The availability of a person’s next meal or just food, in general, can vary due to access, availability, and income. This may occur for a short period or longer which can result in a lack of the nutrition bodies need to prevent health consequences. Chronic hunger can cause a person’s pulse rate to slow, blood pressure will fall, and the heart muscle atrophies. Unfortunately, chronic hunger is a real issue for many central Florida residents. According to Feeding Florida, 1 out of 7 adults and 1 out of 6 children do not have enough food to live a healthy and active lifestyle. To help improve the health of our communities consider organizing a food drive.
Why are food drives valuable?
A food drive is a way to support your community by collecting canned/preserved food for your local food banks, pantries, and soup kitchens. By collecting and donating food you are helping to keep shelves stocked and raise awareness about hunger in your community. Food drives have the option to be done physically in person, as well as virtually. A virtual food drive is carried out online through the Feeding America Network allowing you to collect funds to provide to your local food banks and pantries. One benefit of conducting a virtual food drive is that it allows food banks to purchase more food for a lower cost than you would at the grocery store, allowing the donation to go further and feed more people.
How can you lead a healthy food drive?
If you or your organization decides to host a physical food drive, it is important to not only think about how and when you are going to collect the food, but also the types of food you would like to collect. Even though all donations matter and help feed families, research shows 74% of clients do not have the funds to purchase healthier foods even though that is what they would prefer. Focusing on these foods in your collection will help meet the needs of the community and nourish families. To get started contact your local food bank or pantry. Next, select the dates your food drive will run and the location where items can be dropped off. Finally, market and educate your employees, community, and others about what foods you are specifically looking for. Don’t be afraid to ask the pantry you contact for a specific wish list. In your request, be sure to ask for food from each of the food groups. This can include but is not limited to low-sodium or water-packed vegetables, meats, and seafood, dried or low-sodium beans, canned fruits in water or 100%juice, shelf-stable milk, whole-wheat pasta, and peanut butter. Feeding America has created a donation list that can be used to encourage healthier food donations. This list can be found at: http://hungerandhealth.feedingamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/legacy/mp/files/tool_and_resources/files/healthy-food-donation-list.pdf
Do your part to help build a stronger and healthier community where you live, the health of those around you depends on it. To learn more about hunger and additional resources visit https://www.feedingamerica.org/
Written by: Lori Johnson & Angelika Keene