January 4, 2010 | 12:00pm
According to the Valley of the Sun United Way, over 260,000 Arizona residents lack resources needed to acquire food for the next few days. Eighty thousand will skip meals or consume meals that lack adequate quantity on a regular basis. Due to recent economic conditions, the demand on local resources has increased tremendously, with some local food banks seeing more than a 50 percent increase in requests for assistance.
When making out that list of resolutions, which for many of us will include cutting back on calories, now might be the perfect time to consider donating time or money to those who are going without. We've done a little research and found that there are many ways we can assist local programs in feeding the hungry.
Donate to a Food Box Program
Food boxes provide a 3 -5 day supply of dry goods to families in need. You can help by donating dry goods and canned items, especially high protein non-perishables like peanut butter and tuna. Organizations like the Phoenix Rescue Mission
compile the goods and distribute them to families in our community.
These groups also need volunteers to pack donated items into boxes and drivers to distribute them to local families. The St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance
provides a list of opportunities
to serve in this capacity.
Host or participate in a Food Drive
Organize a food drive in your own community. Though local organizations count on bulk food donated from corporations, they also rely heavily on smaller group donations. Collect canned items or target a specific non perishable from a most wanted list
Organizations like St. Vincent de Paul
will provide guidelines and assistance
to get you started. You can also check individual organization websites and blogs for information on upcoming food drives in your area.
Volunteer time at a Soup Kitchen
Soup kitchens often receive a flood of volunteers during the holidays, but they rely on your time to serve meals year round. Local groups dish up hot meals daily and hand out sack lunches and bottled water. You can sign up for a regular commitment or simply volunteer on an as needed basis.
Most organizations will take volunteers over the ages of eighteen, though a few host family meals which have volunteer opportunities for ages eight and over when supervised by an adult. St. Vincent de Paul
and the Salvation Army
both have kitchens with locations metro wide.
Make a Financial Commitment
Every non-profit hunger organization relies on public donations to operate, so why not put your money where a mouth is? If you are short on time but still want to make a difference, you can easily make a one-time donation or schedule a monthly contribution to be automatically drafted.
The organizations mentioned in this post represent some of the larger groups in our area, but there are many more places to donate your time and money. Go to http://www.azfoodbanks.org/
for a comprehensive list of organizations in our area.