How you can help: With holidays approaching, food banks need more

WASHINGTON — Thanksgiving and other feast-centered holidays are just around the corner. While many people prepare their kitchens and their stretchy pants to overindulge in the tastiest of fares, the reality of the holidays is much more grim for many people who don’t have enough.

Throughout the nation, there are approximately 15.6 million households that face food insecurity, according to 2016 data from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. The data revealed that between 2014 – 2016, approximately 11.4 percent of households in D.C., 10.1 percent of households in Maryland and 9.9 percent of households in Virginia faced some degree of food insecurity.

Many of these neighbors turn to food banks or food kitchens for help.

Hilary Salmon with the Capital Area Food Bank says that each year, it helps 540,000 people in the D.C. region get access to food.

“Hunger exists year-round,” she said, but the food bank does, however, receive more calls about what they offer during the holidays.

“Food is so important to some of the holidays that we have coming up that people want to be particularly sure that they can provide for their families during this time,” she said.

Salmon said Capital Food Bank always welcomes donations of healthy foods “that will help people live well,” such as the following foods in their list of “most wanted items.”

  • Canned or dry beans
  • Canned fruits and vegetables
  • Canned tuna, salmon or chicken
  • Peanut butter
  • Grains
  • Hot and cold cereals
  • Juices
  • Healthy snacks

As for food kitchens, shelters and other places that directly provide meals to those in need, many prefer donations centered on one or two particular items during this time of year aside from the usual canned goods.

D.C. Central Kitchen says on its website that collecting bulk donations of one specific product allows its staff to get enough of an item to produce sufficient meals for all the people they serve.

Aside from donations of turkeys, D.C. Central Kitchen’s most needed items are:

  • Dried beans (garbanzos/chickpeas)
  • Rice
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Pasta
  • Granola bars
  • Baking good (flour, sugar, etc.)
  • Mayonnaise or barbecue sauce
  • Vegetable oil
  • Apple sauce
  • Rubber gloves, disposable aprons, paper plates, cutlery

The Capital Area Food Bank accepts individual donations Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. at its D.C. warehouse (4900 Puerto Rico Ave., NE) and its Lorton, Virginia, warehouse (6833 Hill Park Drive).

D.C. Central Kitchen encourages people to host turkey and food drives for the holiday season. Donations are accepted at 425 2nd St. NW in D.C. from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends.

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