(Family Features) - Americans are inventive and generous when it comes to helping others. From our barn-raising, lend-a-hand roots to today's walking to raise funds for disease research, we show up to help those in need. Helping fight hunger in your community is easy, fun and rewarding, and it makes a difference.
Food activist Frances Moore Lappe, author of Diet for a Small Planet and World Hunger: Twelve Myths, says, "We say that we're just a drop in the bucket, and that's meaningless. But wait a minute. If you have a bucket, those raindrops fill it up very fast. Being a drop in the bucket is magnificent. People everywhere are creating a bucket of hope. And so our drops are incredibly significant."
Be a drop in the bucket and play a part in stopping hunger in your community. There's a role for everyone - choose one or more of these suggested activities, and check out the national networks that bring muscle to the fight. Individual efforts, multiplied, spell hope for ending hunger.
Photos courtesy of America's Second Harvest and Harvesters,
The Community Food Network of Kansas City, Missouri
Community Caring Initiatives
Hope: Ordinary people doing extraordinary things
Host a benefit potluck
Share fellowship and break bread while raising resources. Ask for a free-will cash donation or a donation of nonperishable food items.
Sponsor a sweets auction
Bake sales work! Turn up the volume a notch and host an evening event, with an auction of pastry art donations from talented cooks in your town.
Create an edible landscape
While snow is still on the ground, plan a personal or community garden that could supply fresh produce for the hungry in your town.
Make a dish, share a dish
Making two batches of lasagna or other hearty casserole is not much more work - freeze one to take to a local homeless shelter.
Stage a game night
Fight winter cabin fever. Host a games-and-dessert party; invite the neighborhood and ask for a donation for local hunger programs.
Donate a meal
As a family, opt to make your own pizza on Friday night and put aside the cash you might have spent on pizza out; donate to a hunger program.
Become a savvy shopper
When "most wanted" items like canned fish, meat, peanut butter or pasta are on sale, pick up an extra or two to donate.
Bake "cookies for caring"
Many kids and teens love to bake. Encourage children or a youth group to bake cookies for local feeding programs. Make regular "cookie donations."
Adopt an agency
Encourage youth clubs and congregations to "adopt" a local food pantry by raising funds and food for it.
Clip some coupons
Clip coupons for groceries, personal care items, fast food and pizza for distribution at local shelters.
Designate a monthly food drive
Declare one Saturday a month as food drive day: Ask your friends, congregation, club or community to pick up a few extra nonperishable items for donation to the food bank.
When sponsoring a bake sale or hosting a potluck, offer recipes for featured dishes and baked goods as "part of the package." Or, collect recipes for dishes that are established community favorites and publish a booklet for sale.
Here's a sampling of hunger relief networks to explore:
- Supported by American corporations like Campbell's Soup, General Mills and Nestle USA, America's Second Harvest (www.secondharvest.org) provides emergency food assistance to more than 23 million hungry Americans through a variety of hunger-relief programs. One Big Table, a Second Harvest initiative, promotes local fund-raising potluck dinners and also sponsors a virtual potluck on its Web site for donating funds online.
- Parade magazine and Share Our Strength (www.strength.org), along with many corporate partners, sponsor The Great American Bake Sale (www.greatamericanbakesale.org), a groundbreaking program aimed at ending childhood hunger in America.
- Feeding the hungry is just a click away at www.thehungersite.com, which with the help of many vendors donates food to those in need here and around the world. The Hunger Site encourages everyone to "click every day" to donate food, and links to vendors who make donations for every purchase made.
For more resources, visit www.culinary.net
Use all-time favorite recipes like these for your fund- raiser, potluck or bake sale: