(BPT) – With the holidays upon us, many of us are gathering to celebrate and make lasting memories with our friends and family. There is much to be grateful for, and while the holidays bring us this cheer, they can also bring financial stress, hunger and malnourishment for many of our neighbors.
According to the National Retail Federation, consumers will spend an average of $1,000 on holiday-related items between Thanksgiving and the new year. For a household that regularly struggles to make ends meet, this season of spending can lead to hard choices and forgoing the most basic necessities. Individuals and families may miss meals or opt for cheaper, less nutritious options to get by. The holidays notwithstanding, in Kansas and Missouri alone, 1.3 million people are hungry – 370,000 of which are children.
Research shows that access to nutritious food is the key to a healthy community, where children do well in school, families thrive and seniors are not choosing between buying food and other necessities. Providing nutritious food, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, in underserved areas improves the community’s health and its economic vitality.
At a time usually centered around celebration and relaxation with family and friends, consider using this time with loved ones to give back to our community and help make sure everyone can thrive this holiday season. Here are some programs that show you where to start:
Harvesters – The Community Food Network
Harvesters is a regional food bank providing food and related household products to emergency food pantries, community kitchens, homeless shelters, children’s homes and others. For their operation that feeds 141,500 people every month, volunteers help to make things happen. Whether it’s sorting food, assisting at special events or providing professional service, just two hours of your time can make a difference. Learn about their volunteer opportunities and schedule time to volunteer individually or with your family.
Each year, 40 million people struggle with hunger in the United States, including more than 12 million children. And even though there are literally thousands of food banks, soup kitchens and other food-related programs working from coast to coast to address the issue, food insecurity continues to impact more than 15 million households each year. Through an #RSVPtoEndHunger, NourishKC is inviting the community to come to the table and embark on a three-year journey to discover if we can change the way people access food in KC, and to create a food-secure region.
This holiday season, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) and its employees are also helping families and individuals in need through Well Stocked, Blue KC’s community impact initiative that’s focused on increasing access to nutritious food in underserved areas. The Well Stocked program partners with a number of organizations across Kansas and Missouri to help families thrive – this holiday season and every day of the year.
To learn more about the ways you can get involved with Blue KC and their partners this season, visit BlueKC.com/WellStocked.