In honor of National Volunteer Week, April 18-24, I urge you to reach out to your local food bank and help those at risk of hunger.
Hunger is a silent epidemic, affecting nearly one in six Americans. Though we cannot tell who is hungry from the clothes people wear, the jobs they work, or the color of their skin, 49 million people in this country do not have access to enough food for an active and healthy life.
Every year, food banks across the country, like the ten member food banks of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, serve millions of hungry Americans, people who are unable to afford enough food to feed their families. At the same time, Feeding America, the country’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, distributes more than 2 billion pounds of food and grocery products to more than 37 million people annually.
Last year the members of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry distributed 42 million pounds of food to over 1,500 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other emergency food organizations. We expect to distribute even more this year.
We would not be able to continue this critical work without the help of volunteers. Approximately 72 percent of food pantries and 52 percent of soup kitchens served by the Feeding Indiana’s Hungry network report relying entirely on volunteers and have no paid staff. In addition to helping food banks save time and labor costs, volunteerism helps raise awareness of hunger in America and promotes community involvement in solving the problem.
Ways you can help end hunger:
• Volunteer Your Time
Volunteer an hour once a week, once a month or once a year.
• Food Drives
Organize a work place, club or church food drive.
Plant a row of fruits and vegetables in your garden and donate the harvest to your local food bank.
Did you know?
• Between 2008 and 2009, 63 million Americans have volunteered for an organization at least once. (Source: Volunteering in the United States, 2008 Bureau of Labor Statistics)
• Approximately 30 percent of women and 23 percent of men did volunteer work between September 2008 to September 2009. (Source: Volunteering in the United States, 2009 Bureau of Labor Statistics)
• 43.7 percent of volunteers were asked to become a volunteer, most often by someone in the organization. (Source: Volunteering in the Unite d States, 2009 Bureau of Labor Statistics).
• Collecting, preparing, distributing or serving food was the third most commonly reported volunteer activity (26.3 percent of volunteers). (Source: Volunteering in America: State Trends and Rankings 2002-2005 Page 13)
• Approximately 68 percent of pantries, 42 percent of soup kitchens, and 15 percent of shelters rely entirely on volunteers nationally. (Source: Hunger in America 2010)
• Over 600,000 volunteers provided a total of over 6 million hours of service to Feeding America members in 2009. (Source: Network Activity Report 2009Table OPS04)
• The minimum value of volunteer labor donated to Feeding America members is estimated at over $ 50 million in 2009. (Source: Network Activity Report 2009 Table OPS04)