Home > Child Nutrition legislation, Obesity prevention > Why You Shouldn’t Volunteer on Thanksgiving or Christmas

Why You Shouldn’t Volunteer on Thanksgiving or Christmas

Why would Joel Berg, executive director of the NYC Coalition Against Hunger, ask folks not to volunteer on the holidays most linked with plentiful tables and stuffed bellies?  Berg, author of All You Can Eat:  How Hungry is America, would seem to be an unlikely person to issue such a statement.  He was in fact in Senior positions at USDA, where he developed a number of high-profile initiatives that fought hunger.  And he heads up one of the nation’s leading anti-hunger organizations.

It’s precisely this experience that has led Berg to the conclusion that canned food drives don’t really help the problem.  He suggests donating money instead to food banks, agencies that can more efficiently purchase large volumes of food at wholesale prices. 

“Just think about this. If you found out that a lot of people in your neighborhood couldn’t afford their prescription drugs, would you go to your medicine cabinet and donate the drugs you don’t need anymore? That’s the paternalism of our current charity system.”

Berg’s advice to those of us seeking to help this time of year?  Volunteer our skills to an appropriate agency.  “If they know how to do a website, if they can write and edit, know graphic design or spreadsheets, that’s needed far more than large groups showing up on a holiday. They need people 365 days of the year to do this long-term work.”  And of course, money is always good.  Your local anti-hunger organization can always use the funds to support their work.  (In LA, Vision Consulting LA recommends Hunger Action LA or the LA Regional Food Bank)

And, most importantly, we can all participate by keeping abreast of policy actions that affect hungry and poor people.  Writing a letter or calling your Congress Member can feel quixotic, but in fact, calls and letters by constituents do make a difference. 

In fact, action is needed this week to help pass the Hunger Free Kids Act.  Follow up here to take action on this very important anti-hunger legislation.  It’s your best way to volunteer for the hungry at the Holidays.

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