Home foreclosures, job losses, massive consumer debt and health care costs have millions on the edge of financial ruin, struggling every single day even as we're told by some that the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression is "technically over."
If you’re affected by any of the above and you’re here, you may be considering bankruptcy. But, as we work towards financial freedom, it’s important to also consider, times are indeed tough for some more than others. And in this economic recession, spurred by downturns in our nation’s financial institutions, the most beloved banks in America are now food banks. And they’ve never been more necessary.
In addition to facing a massive recession, America is now, more than ever, the land of the hungry. Last week, the government (in its 2008-2009 Food Insecurity Report) said 49 million Americans are unsure where their next meal is coming from. For those keeping count, that’s 1 in 6 Americans. Of those, 17 million are children.
So, even if times are technically tight…it's also holiday food-drive season, and needs for community kitchens this year are growing. In the past year, Feeding America, the nation's leading food bank network, has seen an average increase of 15 to 20 percent in the number of people seeking help at its 200-plus food banks across the nation.
So what, specifically, do food banks need this year?
The staff of MSN Money provide a few basic guidelines for reaching out to those in need while keeping your money in check. Keep in mind your local food banks might also have specific needs, so you’re encouraged to contact them directly.
For One, Cash is Still King
While you may think your bank account is small, you and those around you can still make a big difference in someone's holidays with very little money. In fact, some food banks rate their return on a single dollar cash donation at anywhere from 5 to 15 pounds of food. That’s right: five to fifteen pounds for just one dollar. So, if you and everyone in your family, church, office or class were to donate one dollar to your local food bank, you could provide many with more reasons to be thankful following Thanksgiving and heading into the holidays.
Put the "Food" Back in Food Bank
Though cash donations take care of many bulk-food purchases, food donations also play an important role in keeping community kitchens afloat during this economic maelstrom. Food drives can provide more-healthful and higher-quality foods than bulk buys, and provide a greater diversity of foods for the nation’s hungry. Most importantly, food drives provide a nexus between those in need and those willing to feed.
Commonly needed foods in community kitchens include:
- Canned or dried beans and peas;
- Canned fruits; ·Canned vegetables;
- Cereal, including oatmeal;
- Fruit juice; ·Prepared box mixes;
- Proteins (canned meats such as tuna, chicken or fish and peanut butter);
- Shelf-stable milk (dehydrated milk, evaporated milk and instant breakfasts);
- Soups and stews; and
- Rice and Pasta.
What the Needy Don’t Need
While food bank officials aren’t known to “just say no” to any donations, as a general rule out-of-date and glass items are least desirable for those kitchens seeking easy to serve, and eat, options, including:
- Baby food;
- Homemade foods;
- Noncommercial canned items;
- Perishables; and
- Unlabeled cans.
So, even if times are tight, make a bank deposit that truly counts this holiday season: give to your local food banks and cash in on the gift of kindness.
The Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina needs your help. In Durham, contact (919) 956-2513 to learn how you can contribute. In Raleigh, call 919-875-0707.