At MotherWouldKnow the tips, hints and research are typically about food for you or cooking for family and friends. But today we’re talking about food for others – those who won’t have any unless we give.
What motivates giving doesn’t really matter, at least to me. Give because it’s the right thing to do, or because it’s a great gift, or because giving makes you feel good – or less bad about the state of the world or the violence that takes too many lives – or for whatever other reason works for you. Right now, what’s motivates me is the realization that I’m very lucky and grateful for all that I have and all of those with whom I share it.
Why connect to a food-related charity? I think about food virtually nonstop, so turning that attention to helping others eat is only natural. My food obsession did not just start when I began this blog. To say I eat regularly is an understatement and when asked about hobbies, if I’m honest, I should reply “turning leftovers into another meal.”
The food-charity connection is not just a personality quirk though. It is also a lesson learned from my parents and that I hope I have passed down to my own children. All of us have to eat and no matter how young we are or how much or little we enjoy planning and making food, most people enjoy eating.
When I was growing up, after our Thanksgiving dinner, my parents donated an amount equal to the cost of the meal to a food relief or other social service organization. Of course, they made other charitable donations, but that was the one that stuck in my memory. Now, as I prepare a holiday meal, I often think about that tradition and make a donation to carry it on
Although hitting the “Donate Now” button online may feel a bit impersonal, you can target an online gift to an organization that is close to you geographically or close to your heart or both. And the web puts powerful resources at your disposal to research and find the charities that best fit your preferences.
Here are a few suggestions for worthy food-related charities and resources for finding other organizations:
- Feeding America – An umbrella organization that works nationally to end hunger in the US and through its network of 200 food banks across the country.
- Your local foodbank – If you know your local food bank, you can help replenish its supplies through donations of food directly or through a financial donation and you can volunteer there too. My local food bank (in Washington DC) is the Capital Area Food Bank. You can find your local food bank here.
Local Food-Related Social Service Organizations
Incredible local organizations feed the hungry, provide job training for restaurant and other food service jobs, and teach kids and families how to make healthy food choices. Often the best way to find them is word-of-mouth, through connections with houses of worship, or through local media reports or listings.
I live in Washington DC, where we have many such great organizations, but I’m going to highlight – and shamelessly plug – one in Chicago, Inspiration Corporation. Why? The nonprofit’s resource specialist trained in my own kitchen (and showed me how to make crêpes) and she treated me to a fabulous lunch at one of the organization’s restaurants, Inspiration Kitchen, when I visited her last spring. If you’re in Chicago, definitely stop by one of their locations for a meal and consider supporting the group.
National Organizations Fighting Hunger in the US
- Share Our Strength/No Kid Hungry
- Meals on Wheels Association of America (can also find local Meals on Wheels programs through this site)
- Organizations that have a religious base, such as Mazon, A Jewish Response to Hunger
Organizations Fighting Hunger Internationally
Resources to Help Find & Evaluate Charities
How can these resouces help you and how to interpret the information they provide? I found this Wall Street Journal article, Evaluating the Charity Evaluators, and the online comments helpful in understanding the evaluators’ strengths and weaknesses.
Even if your budget is stretched and you are not able to donate financially, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities. Volunteer Match is a neat online tool for finding a local nonprofit that needs your help. You narrow your search by address or zip code and type of organization. Or ask a friend who already volunteers to take you along.
What food-relief or food-related nonprofit organizations do you support?