5 Ways You Can Help Fight Hunger This Holiday Season

Over a quarter million Long Islanders are food insecure. Fortunately, there are several great organizations working to feed them. Learn how you can help.

Food share recipients patiently wait in line to fill boxes with produce, bread, dairy products and flowers all donated from local markets and farms.

Community Solidarity food share recipients patiently wait in line to fill boxes with produce, bread, dairy products and flowers all donated from local markets and farms.

In our holiday issue, Valerie Cotsalas shared the story of Long Island’s food insecure population and the people and organizations working to feed them. We’ve been encouraged—and, frankly, moved—by the impassioned response her story has received from you, our readers, on social media. It seems that you, like us, are dismayed by her story’s most startling fact: that over 250,000 Long Islanders are hungry.

The good news: you can turn that dismay into action. Here are five easy ways to get started.

1. Donate Food

Rose sharing groceries at our #hempstead #foodshare

A photo posted by Community Solidarity (@communitysolidarity) on

One of the best ways you can help your food insecure neighbors is also one of the easiest: donate food. Food banks everywhere rely on donations from local residents—and food banks on Long Island are not an exception to that rule.

The best items to donate are non-perishable and packaged. Frozen turkeys are in especially high-demand at this time of year, too.

2. Donate Money

Great start to my morning! ?? Everyone go donate to #IslandHarvest in Bethpage today!! ??

A photo posted by Danielle Shea (@deesheaa) on

Like most non-profit organizations, food banks depend on donations to survive. This holiday season, set aside as little as $10 and you’ll be investing in the health of not only your less fortunate community members, but the health of your community itself. All donations are tax-deductible.

If the recent scandals of certain charities have left a bitter taste in your mouth, allow us to wash it out for you: you can always double-check how any organization manages its finances right here.

3. Volunteer

Volunteers are an incredibly important part of food bank organizations. Volunteer just a few hours of your time and you’ll help to feed thousands of Long Islanders. Just think of all the hours you spend on your couch, binge-watching Westworld (and then sitting there, wondering what the heck is going on). We think you’ll agree that volunteering at a food bank is a much better way to spend your time.

But don’t just volunteer on the holidays themselves! Food banks need you all November and December (and January, February, etc.), too.

4. Host a Food Drive

4,800 lbs of food brought in today. Big thanks to all who made this possible.

A photo posted by nyc jeep club (@nycjeepclub) on

Long Island Cares alone distributes more than eight million pounds of food each year, and much of it comes from independently hosted food drives. The good news: hosting a food drive is easy and, from experience, I can tell you it’s easy to make it fun. Make a Facebook event, invite all your friends, and host a party or two. Tell each guest to bring 3-5 canned items and you’ll be amazed by how much food turns up! Remember what I told you: easy and fun.

5. Share This Story

It is, as always, impossible to say it better than Leo Tolstoy: “If, then, I were asked for the most important advice I could give, that which I considered to be the most useful to the men of our century, I should simply say: in the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.”

More than a quarter million Long Islanders are food insecure. That’s a daunting number, isn’t it? Remind yourself of it every time you sit down at a table for an abundant meal.

If you’re lucky enough to live in a well-fed bubble, dare yourself to look beyond it. Encourage others to do the same. Bad intent causes far fewer crises than blindness. So let’s all open our eyes and get to work. There’s a lot for us to do.

The three organizations mentioned in this story are not the only three organizations that need your help. We encourage you to reach out to your local churches and hospitals; most of them organize their own food drives at this time of year.

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Meghan Harlow

Meghan is the digital editor of Edible East End and Edible Long Island.