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Sharing Your Bounty: Providing Holiday Meals to the Less Fortunate

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Of all the festivities associated with the winter holidays, the one thing many people look forward to most is the big holiday meal. Whether it’s turkey on Thanksgiving, a Christmas ham, or a pot roast at a Hanukah dinner, food is indelibly intertwined with our holiday celebrations. Generous donors, thankful for the opportunity to feast with family and friends, are also moved this time of year to help provide holiday meals to the less fortunate.

In order to provide a holiday meal for those in need we advise that you:

  • Research any advertisement you see. If you receive a solicitation in the mail, or see an advertisement in the local newspaper, from a charity promising to provide holiday meals, vet the charity before you donate your time or money. Charity Navigator rates the financial health, accountability and transparency of thousands of charities that address hunger. You can quickly check our ratings to confirm that the charity you saw in the ad is efficient and ethical.
  • Use our search to proactively find a well-run charity near you. Instead of reacting to an ad, use our advanced search feature to search for charities. Then, within the results of your search click on “Re-sort by: Overall Rating” to see these charities listed from highest to lowest rated. Once you’ve developed a list of highly-rated charities that offer food for the less fortunate, contact them directly, using the information provided on their ratings page, for more information about their programs. Should you choose to give a monetary contribution, you can add the charity to your Giving Basket by clicking on the green Donate to this charity button featured on the charity's page on our site. 
  • Consider volunteering. While charities generally prefer monetary donations, as it is often the most efficient way to further their work, there are still plenty of organizations that are in need of your sweat equity. During the holidays, you can roll up your sleeves and help cook, serve and deliver meals. Charities also need help organizing and repackaging items collected from food drives. Again, use our advanced search to find charities in your area and then reach out to them directly to learn more about ways in which you can volunteer your time.
  • Organize a food drive. Food drives are popular around this time of year and give donors another tangible way to help people in their community. Use our advanced search tool to find a highly-rated charity in your community to help. Next, contact the charity directly to coordinate your efforts. You should ask for a list of needed food items, those it will not accept, as well as guidance on food safety. Then encourage your friends and family to donate nutritious foods from the list of acceptable donations.
  • Make it a year-round priority. While the desire to provide meals for the less fortunate may seem strongest during the holidays as we enjoy feasts of our own, the need exists throughout the year. In fact, the need is often the greatest during the summer months when school children are not receiving meals through the National School Lunch Program. Consider making a New Year’s resolution to donate your time serving meals on a weekly basis or schedule and organize food drives at various times throughout the year. Using the new Giving Basket on Charity Navigator, you can even set up automatic, recurring donations to a local food bank thereby ensuring that you support its activities throughout the year, and not just during the holidays.

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