I stopped into our local food bank today.
Every month I bring over a grocery bag of food -- usually boxes of cereal, since the manager told me that's what families ask for a lot. I wait until one of the local supermarkets has a decent sale on healthy, not-too-sugary cereal, then pick up a few boxes while I'm shopping. I know it's not a particularly efficient way to donate, but it's meaningful to me to shop for the items myself, instead of just sending money. And it seems that I spend so much time procuring food for my little, most decidedly non-hungry household...it's not going to kill me to spend five extra minutes picking up a few more groceries for someone else who really needs them.
I'm sharing this not to toot my own horn -- usually I like to keep this small personal project under the radar, including my own, as much as possible -- but because I just found out that summertime is really rough for agencies fighting hunger on the local level. Kids who've been in school for most of the year, taking advantage of breakfast and lunch programs there, are at home now, making it hard for families on the edge to keep them fed. And the public tends to concentrate its giving around the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, leaving a gap in the summer months.
So if you've been meaning to clean out your pantry, or you've decided to turn in your empties, or the penny jar is overflowing and you need to clean it out...now's a good time to do a good turn for your local food bank.