Food & Nutrition

13 Things Local Food Pantries Really Wish You Knew This Holiday Season

Have you heard of food insecurity? One in seven people in the United States know the term well—meaning they don’t know when they’ll get their next meal. That’s a frightening situation, especially for families with young children, and especially during the holiday season. Here’s what food pantry directors say they could really use to better serve our neighbors in need.

Pantry goers could be you or me

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We may think that only the unemployed or homeless use food pantries, but that simply isn’t true, according to Daryl Foriest, director of the Feeding Our Neighbors program at Catholic Charities of New York. “We are seeing increasing numbers of working families, commonly known as the working poor,” Foriest says. And some 90 percent of all seniors were found to be food insecure in 2014, according to feedingamerica.org. Senior citizens living on a Social Security income often have to choose between buying food or paying medical and utility bills.

Fortunes can change in an instant

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A layoff, an accident, a long-term illness, or other unexpected event can have a huge impact on a family already struggling to make ends meet. “Seeing so many families in need, especially children, reminds all of us how easily our lives can take a turn for the worse without any notice,” says Foriest. And when a family’s food budget gets slashed, caring about nutrition drops down on the priority scale. Some 79 percent of people buy cheaper food even if it isn’t the healthiest just to make sure to fill the bellies in their family, according to feedingamerica.org. Follow these tips to cut back on food waste in your own home.

We need stuff for babies

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Babies go through a lot of diapers and formula. Both are very expensive and can put a major dent in the family budget. “So many of our clients who don’t get food stamps pay so much out of pocket for diapers and baby formula that they’re neglecting their own food needs,” Foriest says. Call ahead to see if your local food pantry accepts these items. A diaper drive would be most welcome, especially during the holidays. “If we were able to give out diapers across our programs, especially at this time of year, many of our neighbors’ children could have a pretty decent Christmas.” Here are 9 powerful ways to give to charity without breaking the bank.

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