With Thanksgiving fast approaching, holiday plans have been set and dinner menus finalized — golden-brown turkeys with all the fixin’s, grandma’s mac and cheese, and let’s not forget the pies. Pumpkin, apple, sweet potato, pecan… For over 41 million Americans though, who are currently struggling with hunger, Thanksgiving is just another Thursday where they are forced to make choices between food and other basic necessities.
“Hunger is everywhere,” says Zuani Villarreal, Director of Communication at Feeding America. “It’s down the street, at work, on the playground and at the senior center.” She shares that many Americans are one job loss or medical crisis away from food insecurity, but some, like children and seniors, may be at an even greater risk for hunger. The stats are staggering: 13 million children and 5.4 million seniors not knowing where their next meal is coming from.
As the largest hunger-relief organization in the U.S., Feeding America provides meals to more than 46 million people each year. “Feeding people facing hunger is about more than simply providing food,” says Villarreal. “It’s about providing wellness, nourishment, and strength. That’s why it’s our mission to provide the most nutritious food possible to improve people’s health and well-being.”
You can help by picking up a couple of these products on your next grocery trip. Some of the most needed items at food banks this holiday season are meals in a box, canned foods, and cooking oils. According to Villarreal, these items are much needed throughout the year as well, just with less emphasis on the seasonal flavors.
During this season of thanks, it can sometimes be easy to get caught up in the commercialism of it all. Below are three ways you can reflect, learn, and give as a family.
Every Thanksgiving dinner growing up and to this day, my mom would ask each of us to think about something or someone we were thankful for and to share why. It’s something I now do with my own family. I love this tradition because it really brings the focus back on gratitude and to not take for granted the many blessings in our lives.
There are some great books that break down the complex issue that is poverty and hunger so that kids can better understand. Here are a few titles to check out:
- Maddi’s Fridge by Lois Brandt
- Tight Times by Barbara Shook Hazen
- One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway
- Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan
Spend a day connecting with your family and community by volunteering at a local food bank. You can contact the closest Feeding America food bank near you here.
Ravelle Worthington is a wife, momma of three, and the founder of Mommy Brain. Follow her on Instagram here.
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