This article was originally published on The Huffington Post.
The upcoming holidays should be a happy time, but for some people the additional financial strain of the season produces extra anxiety and stress – especially for families who struggle to meet their basic needs.
Take Liz, a single mother in Chicago who recently went back to school to create a better life for her children. She reflects on how difficult it is for her boys to see their friends receiving gifts that she can’t afford and notes that her local food pantry has been an invaluable resource in creating her family’s own special holiday memories. Liz knows that her family’s path forward is enabled through the support of the food pantry.
Liz is just one of the millions of Americans who rely on food banks to help feed their families. Many people who face hunger are employed, yet are still forced to make difficult decisions on where to place their limited funds, such choosing between paying for rent, utilities and food.
With the economic recovery, we are seeing some hopeful signs. The USDA recently reported that the food insecurity rate in the U.S. has dropped from 14 to 12.7 percent, or from 48 million to 42.2 million people. We know that hunger is a symptom of poverty, a complex issue that requires comprehensive solutions. Also, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the number of people living in poverty has declined from 14.8 percent to 13.5 percent. It’s great progress, but with more Americans at risk of hunger than the entire population of Canada, our economic recovery is clearly still leaving many behind. There’s a long way to go in order to eliminate the challenge of hunger in our country.
No one sector or entity can end hunger. That’s why Feeding America, the nation’s largest, domestic hunger-relief organization and Bank of America have partnered for five years on Give A Meal, an initiative that raises awareness and funds to address food insecurity. The program provides individuals an opportunity to donate to support hunger relief and receive a 2:1 match* from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation. Donations can be made to support a local food bank according to zip code or to support Feeding America directly. Over the past five years, more than 200 million meals have been raised for individuals and families in need.
This holiday season, there are many demands on time and budget. We believe that supporting people facing hunger is one of the most powerful ways you can help individuals and families get on a path to success. It’s not just the food. Some food banks offer resources, such as budgeting workshops or benefits guidance to help families chart a better path. And if you are not able to make a donation, consider giving your time. Food banks and pantries rely on volunteers to help them achieve their mission and serve people in need. Let’s end hunger together – and help families like Liz’s achieve not only a brighter holiday season, but also a brighter future.
Give a Meal is a promotional campaign of Feeding America® with the goal to help provide meals to families in need. All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
Donations designated to "Feeding America" will support Feeding America’s mission to feed individuals and families facing hunger and engage our country in the fight to end hunger. Gifts designated to "Your Local Food Bank" will benefit the food bank served by the billing zip code entered by the donor. If more than one food bank serves the territory of the donor’s billing zip code, the donation will benefit each food bank equally.
*All donations, including the Bank of America Charitable Foundation’s matching donations, will go to the Feeding America network (the Feeding America National Office, or affiliated local food banks). For individual donations made to Feeding America through the Give a Meal™ program before December 31, 2016, the Foundation will match each donation (up to $1,000 per donor) two-to-one, with a maximum total Foundation donation of up to $50,000 to any individual local food bank, and an aggregate maximum Foundation donation of up to $1,500,000 for all Feeding America programs. $1 = 11 meals secured by Feeding America on behalf of member food banks. 2016 cap has been met.