As the winter holidays approach - where so much of our focus is on food and gathering around a plentiful table- it’s important to recognize that even in many of our own communities, 1 in 8 Americans struggle to scrape together three decent meals a day. For children, experts say the ratio is closer to 1 in 6. Food insecurity in this generally prosperous country has only deepened recently with pandemic-triggered unemployment and recession.
Ending hunger is one of many causes to which Kendal at Home Members and other compassionate people give their time, talents, and treasure. With that in mind, please join us for a look at food insecurity, both as a problem to solve and an opportunity to help, in our next Kendal at Home Coffee Hour, “Toward Hunger-Free Communities with The Greater Boston Food Bank,” on Friday, Dec. 10 at 11 a.m. EST.
Giving, whether in time or money, to food security or another worthy cause is part of a time-honored recipe for living a satisfying life, especially in retirement, when there is more time to give back. Giving is also an example of the Quaker values of equality, community, and stewardship. As the year ends the spotlight turns to gratitude, December is a perfect time to consider new philanthropic activities for the months or years to come.
Think about how you might give back
Giving money is one way to help the hungry and others. Americans donate $400 billion per year, or 2% of GDP, to charity, says MIT economist Jon Gruber. Sending such donations to the developing world yields the biggest bang for your buck, he says, though giving locally may inspire you to give more.
There are various motivations for giving, including altruism and the “warm glow” of positive self-regard: “There’s no right wrong here, there’s no moral judgment,” Gruber says. “Understand why you’re giving because that can affect both how you give and where you give.... Thinking about what your goals are can maximize the efficiency of how you give that money.”
Or how you give your time. Americans donate 8.8 billion hours of volunteer time every year, equivalent to another $200 billion.
What the Greater Boston Food Bank does
Headlining our Friday Coffee Hour will be Christina Peretti, assistant director of programs and community capacity at the greater Boston Food Bank, one of the largest hunger relief agencies in the country. The GBFB is the hub of an eastern Massachusetts network of nonprofit distributors, food programs, pantries, soup kitchens, and mobile markets.
Ultra-efficient, the GBFB distributed 117 million pounds of food and 96 million nutritious meals last year. Approximately 91 cents of every budget dollar goes directly to hunger relief, and through bulk-purchasing programs with food retailers, the GBFB creates two meals out of every donated dollar.
The meals are nutritious thanks to two full-time GBFB dietitians who enforce rigorous standards. Ninety-two percent of the food the bank distributes qualifies as green on the green-yellow-red healthy choices scale.
GBFB works closely with partners to distribute food and deliver complementary services. For example, the Boston Public Library is driving a separate initiative with GBFB called the Spice Bank Collective. The effort ensures that needy families not only get enough food, but also have the culturally specific seasonings their families have relied on for generations.
Want to join the volunteer/philanthropic effort to fight hunger? If you’re near Boston, you can start here. Wherever you are in the country, you can find your local food bank here. Volunteers are prized, but it would be just as well if the opportunity dried up.
“Our mission is not distributing food,” says GBFB spokesperson Gary Roy. “It’s ending hunger.”