Rise Up

Over 40 Million Americans Don't Have Food This Thanksgiving, But Groups Rally to Fill the Void

Hunger is a daily reality for far too many Americans, and the problem won’t fix itself.

by Jonathan Parks-Ramage
Nov 22 2017, 3:30pm

Image via Facebook

This holiday season, as many of us prepare to enjoy bountiful meals with friends and family, it’s important to remember that millions of Americans, including many children, face real and immediate hunger. According to the latest study conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture, 41.2 million people lack basic access to enough food to live a healthy life. Unsurprisingly, food insecurity frequently impacts our nation’s most vulnerable populations, with single mothers, homeless youth, people living below the poverty line, and black and Hispanic households more likely to suffer from hunger. Every American deserves the right to a healthy meal, and given the wealth and power of the United States it’s an unacceptable reality that so many of our citizens go without food every day.

To pick up the slack where government has fallen short, there are many organizations across the country that are committed to fighting hunger in the U.S., and giving needy families the food they need to survive. But they need your help.

For those of you looking to get involved, VICE Impact has rounded up some of the most effective nonprofits working to solve this issue. These organizations need your support, and this holiday season could be a great time to start.

Feeding America

Feeding America is the largest non-profit fighting hunger in America. With its national network of over 200 food banks and 60,000 meal programs, the nonprofit provided hungry families with over 3.6 billion meals last year. The organization has also made a recent commitment to ensure that these meals are healthy, announcing that by 2023 the organization’s food banks will be supplying even more fresh produce, lean proteins and whole grains.

At the heart of Feeding America’s strategy lies their network of food banks. These food banks are home to millions of pounds of food, usually donated by national food and grocery manufacturers, government agencies or other organizations. These food banks supply local food pantries and smaller organizations with the food they need to serve their communities.

To get involved with Feeding America’s vital mission, you can donate money, volunteer your time, or contact your member of Congress about hunger related issues.

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Meals on Wheels

It’s a sad fact, but many seniors in America are unable to purchase or prepare their own meals. Fortunately, Meals on Wheels is committed to changing that, bringing prepared food to elder citizens in need.

Started in 1954, by a small group of Philadelphia locals who wanted to give back to their community, Meals on Wheels has grown into a national organization that serves over 2.4 million seniors across the country. Meals on Wheels operates a network of over 5,000 locally run programs, that tailor their services to the needs of their communities. By delivering meals to seniors at home, volunteers help program participants with nutritious eating, which reduces health risks in the long run.

Additionally, these volunteers are often the only people that these seniors see all day, meaning that these visits are an important social component of their lives, and provide valuable companionship. Finally, Meals on Wheels visits also represent an important safety check for these individuals, to make sure no accident or emergency goes unaddressed. To get involved, you can sign up to volunteer, or donate today.

Food Bank for New York City

Hunger is a huge issue for New York City: 20 percent of the city’s residents are struggling below the poverty line, and over 1.4 million New Yorkers rely on emergency food. Fortunately, Food Bank For New York City is on the frontlines of hunger, fighting to ensure that every person in New York has access to healthy food.

The organization is the largest hunger-relief organization in the city, and provided more than 62 million meals last year alone.

For thirty five years, the organization has been working to end food poverty in every New York City borough. Their comprehensive initiatives include direct service through local food pantries, income assistance, nutrition education for youth and adults, and legal advocacy for hunger-relief policy. To get involved, you can volunteer, join their advocacy efforts, or donate.

Share Our Strength

One in six children in America grow up hungry, and national nonprofit Share Our Strength (SOS) is determined to bring this number down to zero. Since 1984, the organization has worked to partner with local organizations and give them the resources they need to fight hunger in their communities.

Central to SOS’s mission, is their No Kid Hungry campaign. This campaign raises money through innovative, national fundraising methods like their Dine Out restaurant-partner program, and Taste the Nation culinary benefits. That money is then invested in the No Kid Hungry network of city and state-based organizations fighting hunger. Additionally, SOS works to engage government officials, average citizens, businesses, and others in their efforts. To get involved, you can donate here, or even start your own fundraiser.

To learn more about food security issues and equitable solutions, check out the Community Food Security Coalition .