3 ways to — safely — get food to neighbors this holiday season

During the holiday season, most Michiganders look forward to sitting down with their families over plates of delicious, homemade meals. But this year, the pandemic is forcing all of us to find creative new ways to celebrate.

For the 1 in 6 West Michigan and Upper Peninsula neighbors expected to be facing hunger this year, a dinner table full of food is a distant hope. Thankfully, generous community members are helping the food bank get holiday meals to families in need.

Usually, we love to fill our warehouse with volunteers, and accept truckloads of stuffing and cranberry sauce. But with our limited volunteer force making it harder to sort and sanitize shelf-stable food, we’re asking you to help out virtually.

Here are three ways to get started:

1. Create a virtual fundraiser for the food bank. Rob usually hosts a Christmas party food drive for Feeding America West Michigan. But this year he knew it wouldn’t be safe for 100 people to gather in person. Instead, he started a personal fundraiser through the food bank’s Just Giving page. It was much easier than he thought – and he didn’t have to drive lots of cranberry sauce and boxed stuffing to the food bank like usual!

A bunch of canned goods and shelf stable items sit on a floor mixed with holiday themed things.
Rob usually hosts a food drive this time of year.

Each day for two weeks, Rob shared about the fundraiser on Facebook and in the end, he raised more than $5,000 – funding the distribution of around 20,000 meals’ worth of food to neighbors in need. You can start a fundraiser, too. Simply visit this page (or click the “Fundraise” button on our website), set up your fundraiser and share it with your friends.

Rob’s tips: “The key really is to be consistent. People need to know there’s an end date. Ours was a two week endeavor and our goal was $5,000. [Each day on Facebook], I’d post, ‘hey, there’s only __ days left!’”

Many of his friends thanked him for hosting the fundraiser. They shared that they wanted to help, and his fundraiser made it easy.

2. Advocate. Share about the food bank’s mission (perhaps with a statistic or one of our blog posts) and why it’s important to you with your friends and family. Feel free to tag us @feedingwestmich. You might just spark a passion for hunger relief in someone else or help connect someone who’s struggling with hunger to food resources near them.

3. Give holiday cheer with a one-time gift or through year-round support. Sadly, families don’t just face hunger during the holidays. The pandemic has shown just how quickly neighbors can find themselves in need. After the holidays, our donations often drop off, and it’s harder to provide as much support for our 900+ agency and Mobile Pantry partners. Help throughout the year by becoming a monthly donor – or help out right now by giving a one-time gift.

However you decide to help, know you’re making a big difference this holiday season. No one should go hungry in Michigan – especially during the holidays.

Story written by Communication Specialist Juliana Ludema.