As the holidays approach, we are reminded that it is important to give back to our local communities. With many going hungry this holiday season, one of the best and most rewarding ways to give back is to help provide food to those who are in need. BASS would like to take a moment to highlight a few of the places and services that people can get involved with to feed our local community this holiday season. Any of the below organizations can be helped through donations of food, time, or even money as they mostly rely on the generosity of people to keep their operations running.
Additionally, if you have children, the holidays are a great teaching moment for reinforcing the importance of helping those who are less fortunate; volunteering and donating can be a great way to shift the focus from gifts and excess to helping. These moments can easily be made into valuable teaching opportunities, and allow small hands to make a big impact. Many of the below sites let children volunteer in some capacity, depending on age.
You Can Make a Difference
At Food Banks
They all need help collecting, organizing, sorting, and then distributing food to the needy. Most allow children to volunteer, and there are so many options to help out: organizing food drives, sorting produce in the warehouse, distributing meals and groceries, etc. Here are some making a difference in the greater Bay Area:
- Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano County
- SF-Marin Food Bank
- Second Harvest Food Bank (Santa Clara and San Mateo)
At Soup Kitchens
Glide is a dining hall in San Francisco that relies on 60 volunteers per day to serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They also have special opportunities to help at meals and events the day before, the day of, and the day after both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Children as young as 9 can bag food, and anyone 12 and up can help serve hot meals. They have long-term and group-volunteering opportunities for those interested in helping on a larger scale.
Loaves and Fishes of Contra Costa is an organization that cooks meals for the hungry. The meals are served at five of their own sites, and four partner sites across Contra Costa County. They allow adults and children above the age of 12 to help out with food preparation, meal service, and clean up. They also work with local high schools, giving students the opportunity to learn culinary skills, and let small start-ups use their commercial kitchens as another way to give back.
Through Urban Farming and Harvesting Organizations
The Urban Farmers is a completely volunteer-run operation. It harvests excess fruit and produce from backyards across the East Bay area, and then donates it all to local food banks and food justice organizations. You can get involved by letting them come harvest in your backyard, or go hands-on and volunteer manual labor.
City Slicker Farms is located in West Oakland, and this organization’s goal is to help its struggling community feed itself while learning about the benefits of healthy, fresh nutrition. It also teaches food justice classes, empowers community members to grow their own food, and always needs help improving and up keeping its facilities.
Through Food Running Organizations
These types of organizations pick up excess food from local community members and businesses, and then drop it off at places that feed the needy. Many work in conjunction with the above organizations, picking up food from harvesting operations and then dropping it off at soup kitchens or food banks where it can reach the people who need it most.
- The White Pony Express (Contra Costa)
- Food Runners (San Francisco)
- Extra Food (Marin)
- Peninsula Food Runners (The Peninsula)
The above organizations rely on year-round donations and volunteers, and while need rises during the holidays, they are also great opportunities to make a continual and long-lasting impact throughout the year. We encourage everyone to make the effort to help our community out, no matter the size. Additionally, http://www.feedingamerica.org is a great resource to learn more about the different ways to help feed the hungry.