Food

10 easy ways you can help the hungry this holiday season

After the bitterness of this election season, many Americans seem to be looking for ways to give back and bring the country together more than ever. One way to do that: helping the one in eight people in our country who struggle with hunger.

So many of us want to make a difference but it can be overwhelming to know where to begin. But if you’re looking for a way to do more for your community this holiday season, there are plenty of ways—here are 10 easy things you can do right now, no matter where you live:

1. Donate even $1 to food banks—here’s why

When you go to the store to buy cans of food, you pay full retail. But if you donated that, say, $1 to a food bank, it goes a lot farther: Food banks buy in tremendous bulk, paying pennies over cost. For every donated $1 spent, Feeding America is able to get 11 meals to people in need, for example, one spokesperson for the organization explained to TODAY Food.

2. Triple your gift right now with a match

Here’s why right now is an especially great time to donate: Through the end of the year, Bank of America will make a two-for-one match for every dollar donated to Feeding America’s Give a Meal campaign, up to $1.5 million total. So, you give $1, they’ll donate $2. Donate at feedingamerica.org/giveameal. You’ll be benefiting a network of food banks that is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, getting meals to more than 46.5 million people.

3. Find and support your local food bank

Don’t get us wrong: Donating non-perishable food items is also important. Beyond the obvious reasons, it raises visual awareness in the community, and kids can see and grasp the cause, too. To find the closest drop-off center near you, search by ZIP code here.

Blue Apron

4. Donate a whole meal

Most of us know Blue Apron as the company that delivers ingredients and meal plans in a box to harried home cooks. For the fourth year now, the company is running a Thanksgiving Dinner Drive in which you can, for $59.94, make one family’s holiday by donating all the fixings for a nutritious, fresh Thanksgiving meal in the same format. Each box arrives with everything a family of six needs to make roast turkey, cranberry sauce, brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, soup, and a fresh pasta dish. The goal was to serve 125,000 families in need, and they’ve already reached 143,064; there’s still time to blow that number away, though. You can donate through November 20.

5. Help out via app

We spend so much time on our phones, that this couldn’t be easier: An app developed by the United Nations World Food Programme allows you to donate funds to fight hunger with a single tap. Download the app ShareTheMeal, and set it up the amount you would like to donate each time you tap—50 cents is what it costs for the organization to feed one child for a day. It’s touted as the first app to flight global hunger.

6. Use this hashtag

Do more with your next #TBT post by adding the hashtag #ShareAMeal. Now through November 27, post a dinner-table throwback photo using the hashtag #ShareAMeal on Twitter or Instagram, and Unilever will donate a meal to Feeding America, with the aim of hitting 1 million meals. In addition, through November 20, you can also open the food­–delivery app Postmates and tap #ShareAMeal—on top of Unilever donating a meal, Postmates will also thank you with a free delivery during Thanksgiving week.

Clark Vandergrift / Meals on Wheels America

7. Buy some cereal

If you need to stock up on some breakfast staples, now’s the time: Through November 19, Kroger-owned stores and Kellogg’s will donate a meal to a family in need for every two Special K products sold. Find participating stores here.

8. Ask guests to donate in lieu of bringing wine

Guests often can’t help but bring a host or hostess gift. So, instead of winding up with yet another candle or extra bottles of wine, ask Thanksgiving guests to bring along either items for your local food bank, or a monetary cash donation for a hunger-relief organization.

Clark Vandergrift / Meals on Wheels America

9. Deliver a meal on your lunch break

Meals on Wheels can always use volunteers, particularly during the holidays, when regular volunteers may be unavailable. One easy way to do this is to donate your lunch break time, using it to pop by a homebound senior’s home with a meal and quick hello.

Have more time to give? Great! Local programs (each operates independently) need people to help prepare and pack meals in a kitchen, deliver meals via their own cars, make phone calls to check on seniors, serve special holidays meals at sites like senior centers, and assist with office and administrative tasks. To find a Meals on Wheels program in your area, visit mealsonwheelsamerica.org. Also consider donating money: On average, $7 will cover the delivery of a nutritious meal, friendly visit and safety check of a senior.

10. Host a community potluck

Want to really up your impact? Spread the word by inviting friends over for a charity potluck, and maybe pool your donations for a hunger-relief organization. Raising $100 for Feeding America would put 1,100 meals on the table for people in your community. Get more ideas and inspiration here.

Bonus: Use these coupons

Now here’s a reason to do some extreme couponing: From now through December 13, when you use three coupons from participating brands on Coupons.com, one meal will be donated to a hungry child through the organization, No Kid Hungry. The more you save, the more you help.

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