The holidays are here and that often means cookies, cocktail parties and special meals with friends and family. For me, the holidays have always had a food connection with my family traditions and I look forward to sharing those with my children as they grow.
But, for many families the holidays are no different than any other day of the year when you’re hungry and barely have enough food to feed everyone. A recent USDA report found that 14.6% of U.S. households, or some 49 million Americans, suffered from hunger at some point in 2008, while the number of hungry children in the US reached a record 16.7 million – or 22.5%. The experts believe that the number of Americans experiencing “food insecurity” will climb steadily in 2009 and 2010 as hard economic times and unemployment continues.
Children who suffer from hunger are most affected, with many facing long-term challenges like:
- weaker immune systems
- more stomachaches and headaches
- colds and ear infections
- behavioral difficulties
- impaired performance academically, socially and in sports
I hope that you’ll agree: no child deserves to suffer like this from a lack of food. We can all help make a difference to the almost 17 million children who won’t be enjoying holiday meals this year.
Haven’t heard of Share Our Strength? Share Our Strength is a national organization that works hard to see that no child in America grows up hungry. That’s no easy task, so they rely on supporters to help them in a variety of ways. This holiday season, Share Our Strength offers great ways to Share Your Season and help end childhood hunger.
Here are just a two easy ways you can Share Your Season to help:
1. Let friends and family know about your commitment to childhood hunger by making a donation and giving them Share Our Strength gift tags to spread the word. You can even send these donation announcements as e-cards too.
2. Text in a $5 donation right from your mobile phone (ok, it really doesn’t get any easier than that). Get the details here.
But here’s an idea that helps everyone: no matter what your weekly food budget is, let’s all cut it by 10% one week this month for the Share Your Season campaign. Just one week. Just 10%. So if your food budget is $100, you’re spending $90. And the $10 (or 10%) goes to Share Our Strength to help end childhood hunger.
How can you save 10% this week?
Some of us have already cut our food budgets which makes further trims the hardest. But…it’s possible. Times are tough but, believe it or not, if you’re reading this than there’s likely many others with even less (or nothing) to spend on feeding their family. I promise.
I hope that you’ll find some new ideas here to get as close to 10% as possible (some of these are easy, especially if it’s just for a week). I know that we’d all really appreciate additional ideas that you have to add in the comments section below.
- Buy in season – It costs a lot less to buy fresh produce that’s in season than produce that’s been shipped in from South America or has been stored for months.
- Brew your coffee at home – or better yet, at the office. With a medium flavored latte running about $4, enjoying your cup of joe home brewed just a few days a week really adds up. If you usually get those $4 coffees every day, save the treat for the weekend and brew it at home during the week. There’s about $20 right there!
- Eat out less – It’s pretty rare that eating at a restaurant costs less than eating at home.
- Drink less – Really, drink less alcohol, especially out. This is where restaurants are making their most margin. While you might be saving a lot of money with happy hour food, don’t give it all back to them by indulging in a couple full-priced cocktails. Check out Costco, Trader Joe’s and Cost Plus for great deals on wine and beer to enjoy at home before going out.
- Buy less expensive protein – Nuts, beans, lentils and vegetables like broccoli, beets, carrots and squash (which is in season & can store for 4 months!) are high in protein but tend to be less expensive than most meats, dairy and eggs. Think chili, vegetable soup with beans, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole wheat bread.
At the end of the week the most important thing is that we collectively saved something and made a donation to Share Our Strength. While 10% is a good goal (and we’d love to see some give more), every dollar helps feed a hungry child!
When you’re week is up and you’re ready to give, CLICK HERE. And don’t forget to let us know how you saved money in order to help feed hungry children.
About Gina and Change Becomes Change: Growing up, working in her community was something Gina did often with her parents. Now, a parent herself, she’s learned that it’s hard to find the time and energy as a family to help others. What started as a Lenten project with her family, Change Becomes Change became much more. Now Gina shares simple ways to make change happen, whether that’s helping a neighbor who lost their job, sharing new ideas to feed families, keeping a homeless family warm on a cold night, or finding new ways to keep yogurt cups out of a landfill. Small steps.