Did you know that 1 in 5 kids in the US struggle with hungry? September is Hunger Awareness Month and I've joined with some local moms and bloggers to raise awareness for No Kid Hungry. Last week I had the pleasure of meeting up with them to tour the food bank.
The San Antonio food bank feeds over 58,000 people each week. As full as these shelves look without donations, they would be empty in 2 weeks! Food drives are great and they'll help to fill these shelves and lots of hungry people but don't overlook a simple donation of $1. I know our grocery store has the option of adding $1, $3, or $5 to your grocery bill. With a single dollar, the food bank can turn it into $13 worth of food. The food bank even accepts donations of pet food so that families and seniors don't have be separated from their loved furry family members and cause more heart ache in a rough situation.
The San Antonio food bank works as a large storage pantry for the over 515 non-profit agencies to get food to those who need it. These agencies place an order for what they need and come and pick it up. When they come to pick up their orders they can also shop in the "store" for things they might also need. The store has things that might be perishable, like produce, that they need to move off the shelves quickly. In addition to distributing food through these agencies, the food bank has several mobile food pantries that run Monday - Friday distributing food directly to those in need.
Kids cafe meals are packed each day by trustees from the jail. Kids can go to a safe place after-school, get help with homework and have a hot dinner. The food bank also has a backpack program for kids that weren't eating over the weekend and coming to school sick and hungry. A food pack of food easily opened and prepared by kids is sent home in their backpack every Friday. In addition to feeding the children, the trustees learn a valuable job skill and those that graduate from here move on to another site where they learn how to feed a larger number of people.
Some donations coming from large stores come without labels. One of the jobs for volunteers is to put labels on these cans. Other volunteer opportunities include sorting and packing boxes, helping at one of the mobile pantries. Even your younger children (ages 8 and up) can help in the community garden with weeding, planting, watering.
Many might think of the food bank in terms of canned foods that can stay on the shelves. It's much more than that. The food bank strives to provides lots of fresh produce. We saw lots of watermelons when we were touring. The San Antonio food bank also has a community garden to grow lots of fresh produce. Right now the garden is much smaller - this area will be the teaching garden (they even have a gardening class you can attend with the head gardener!) Once the addition, that will double the size of the food bank, is complete there will be a huge garden again. This garden is also complete with a bee hive for teaching and pollination and water storage tanks.
So how can you help? Volunteer at your local food bank, donate your time, donate food, or donate money. From now until September 22, you can even find a local restaurant participating in Dine Out for No Kid Hungry - each restaurant has their own promotion, most where if you donate to No Kid Hungry, you'll get a percent off/free item with purchase/couple for a future purchase.