We love food. And we love the opportunity to share it – around the table when we can, but also by dropping goods off at a local pantry, picking up groceries for an elderly neighbor, and making donations to organizations that provide meals directly to people , which they need. And that need has grown exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are a few ways you can give back and get involved now.
1. start locally
During the pandemic, there was a boom in grassroots groups supporting each other. Mutual Aid is different from top-down government aid programs, or even traditional charities and nonprofits, in that it is community-led, self-governing, and focused on the idea that helping the most vulnerable members of the community is one for is a mutually beneficial act of solidarity. Grocery rides, community fridges filled with free groceries, and food deliveries to people in need are just a few examples.
While you can certainly donate to these causes, there are many ways you can do hands-on volunteering with mutual help. Here in LA, some Goop employees got involved in Home-y Made Meals, a program that volunteers use to prepare burlap for people who are homeless. Since its inception in March, the organization has provided over 30,000 meals and expanded to support marginalized communities such as farm workers. Groups like this exist across the country, and you can connect with them through your local food banks, social media, or this handy map put together by Mutual Aid Hub.
2. KEEPING FRONTLINE WORKERS AND RESTAURANTS SUSTAINABLE
Dine 11 addresses two simultaneous crises of the pandemic: our overwhelmed health system and the poor state of the restaurant industry. By donating to Dine 11, you’re essentially hiring local restaurants to prepare lunch for health care providers. Restaurants generate income so that they can continue to operate and support their employees. And doctors, nurses, and key hospital staff who often skip meals due to long shifts receive a hot meal. Dine 11 is currently active in ten cities. However, if you want to get this publicized in your community, see these step-by-step instructions on how to start programs in your area.
3. MEALS FOR CHILDREN
Before COVID-19, there were approximately 11 million children in households with unsafe diets in the United States. That number has almost doubled in the past ten months. In the past, No Kid Hungry worked closely with schools and communities to implement programs that offer school breakfasts, afternoon meals, and summer meals when the school is idle. This year the organization has worked hard to do it any time of the year when schools have been physically closed. Together with the USDA, No Kid Hungry developed the Free Meal Finder to help families find food providers in their area. No Kid Hungry also works with elected officials and government agencies to seek, advise, and advocate anti-hunger remedies to strengthen the programs that children rely on.
4. FEEDING PEOPLE DURING A DISASTER
The renowned chef and founder of World Central Kitchen, José Andrés, is wherever help is urgently needed. This year alone, he and his organization have responded to COVID-19 in the USA, bush fires in Australia, the consequences of the explosion in Lebanon. and hurricanes in South America. Their answer is twofold: First, they address the immediate need for food aid by offering hot meals. Then they move on to long-term relief by evaluating and rebuilding food systems. This approach enables meaningful and lasting impact on communities.