Meal Planning Monday ~ Fighting Hunger

This week’s blog post is by Christine Luken.

Most of us have plenty of food in the house and more than enough to eat, and our waistlines are proof of that.  I’m always hearing about the obesity epidemic in this country, so I was a little surprised to discover that 50 million Americans (including 17 million children) are “food insecure,” meaning that they aren’t sure where their next meal is coming from.  This Memorial Day, my church, The Vineyard of Florence, participated in the Hunger Walk.  This raises money for the church to do monthly grocery giveaways and hot food giveaways in the poorest areas of our community.  During the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, there’s an increased  focus on feeding the hungry, but food insecurity is a year-round problem.

Often we hear about issues such as hunger, and think that the problem is so big that our small contribution couldn’t possibly put a dent in it.  But nothing is further from the truth!  If enough of us take some small steps, we really can make a difference for those who are facing hunger right in our own communities.  So this week, we’re going to take a break from meal planning and  recipes to talk about some practical steps we can all take to have a positive impact.

  • Support your church’s food pantry or local homeless shelter with donations of non-perishable food items.  At least twice a year, I go through my stockpile and donate items that I don’t think we’ll eat before they expire.  Many shelters will take  items that are past their “best by” date.
  • Use coupon codes from when shopping online.  You can find money saving coupon codes for popular websites like Macy’s and Ulta, and Save1 provides a meal for a hungry child with every coupon code used.  How cool is that?
  • If you know someone who is struggling to pay for groceries every month, buy some for them.  If you can’t afford to do that, teach them what you know about couponing and meal planning to help them stretch their food dollars.
  • Money Saving Mom published a great post last year about how to eat on a grocery budget of $30 per week.  If you or someone you know is “food insecure,” this is a good resource.
  • One-third of the trash in America is food waste.  Make a conscious effort to only buy what you’ll use, freeze leftovers, and donate the money you’ll save to organizations that help fight hunger.

For the month of June, I’ve challenged myself to make use of the food I already have in my pantry and freezer and buy as few groceries as I can.  I’m going to try to buy only fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy.  I’ll donate what I’ve saved to help fight hunger in my own community.  Feel free to join me on this challenge!