As Americans get ready for the holiday season, millions will turn to food donations and assistance from organizations to help get meals on the table.
Over 33 million Americans lived in food-insecure households last year, with 8.6 million adults living in very low food security households, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition data. According to the agency, food-insecure households are defined as households that are "uncertain of having or unable to acquire enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food."
How to help fight food insecurity this Thanksgiving
Nonprofits like Feeding America, which works with a network of food banks and food programs nationwide, offer lots of free resources for people who want to help tackle food insecurity, especially during the holidays.
Start by locating a nearby food bank to donate Thanksgiving essentials, such as canned goods or other non-perishable foods, for a great way to help neighbors in need.
Foods to donate for Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is one of the busiest times of the year for food banks looking to add healthy, non-perishable items to their already in-demand essentials.
Feeding America suggests adding the following items to your donation lists and grocery carts: boxed stuffing, instant mashed potatoes, canned vegetables, dry macaroni, cranberry sauce and canned pumpkin.
Although it's the main dish of a Thanksgiving table, Feeding America reminded interested donors to hold off on including turkey. The Feeding America network collaborates with restaurants, caterers and manufacturers to donate leftover foods like turkey, which are guaranteed to be fresh and safe for families in need.
Similarly, skip sending in any fresh fruits or vegetables since those are highly perishable items. Many food banks work with farmers and corporate partners to help bring fresh produce to families before it goes bad, the organization said.
How to volunteer for food banks this Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is a perfect opportunity to volunteer at a local soup kitchen, food pantry or food bank.
Between assembling Thanksgiving meal boxes or serving food at a Thanksgiving dinner, there are a lot of ways to help families in need make the holiday special.
Click here to locate volunteer opportunities through one of the many partners with Feeding America.