Food December 14, 2021

How to help feed your community with virtual food drives, donations this holiday season

WATCH: Hunger disparity grows amid economic uncertainty

Even in a "normal" year, the holidays are a difficult time for those in need of assistance to get food on the table. Coupled with the ongoing impacts of the pandemic and supply chain issues, this season could be harder than ever for millions of food insufficient Americans as donations dwindle and demand at food banks skyrockets.

The Food Research and Action Center, among other organizations, found that the amount of people who sometimes or often don't have enough to eat has reached record highs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gaelen Morse/Reuters
People receive donations at a food pantry in Columbus, Ohio, Dec. 6, 2021.

Over 13 million U.S. households have struggled with food insecurity since 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, due to pandemic-induced challenges including lost income, rising cost of groceries and fewer donations to charities that provide food nationwide.

Earlier this fall, Feeding America estimated that at least 60 million people turned to charitable food assistance from food banks, pantries and private programs in 2020.

Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York, FILE
In this Nov. 24, 2021, file photo, people wait in line at the Food Bank for New York City's Community Kitchen in New York.

The nation's largest hunger relief organization also showed that one in eight -- or 38.3 million people -- face hunger. Of that number, 11.7 million are children.

Check out the action items and best practices below to help the fight against hunger at local and community levels this holiday season.

Organize an online food drive

Host a virtual food drive with these easy steps from Feeding America.

Fundraise with friends and family

Start an online fundraiser through Team Feed and Feeding America to get friends and family involved.

Get social savvy

Share efforts to fight hunger on social media and spread the word.

Volunteer and say thank you

Find a local food bank here and check in to see their need for volunteers. Thank food bank staff and volunteers on the front lines who help millions of families. Kindness goes a long way, especially during the holidays.

You can also share a virtual post and thank you note here.

Check in with local businesses

Ask local restaurants, cafes and food businesses if they have systems in place to distribute perishable and unused food.