Now that the ghosts and goblins have made their appearance and have moved on (with some candy in their possession), it is time to prepare for the holidays that have a lot to do with giving. Many of us are happy to give a big Turkey Day meal capable of feeding a large gathering of family and friends. And, of course, whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, the giving of gifts can warm your soul in a way that a fireplace simply cannot. Even when times are tough, we find a way to have abundance during the holidays. And the greatest thing we can do with our abundance is give it away. Not only can that gesture help another person, but giving away abundance opens you up to receive even more abundance.
Two years ago, I was approached by Deborah Smith of Jersey Bites to take part of a one-day blog burst about Blogging Out Hunger, and we ended up having well over 100 blogs post about helping out the food banks here in New Jersey. It prompted me to go to the Southern Branch of the Community Food Bank on New Jersey to get a better idea of what was taking place. It was a sobering yet hope-filled experience.
Well, Deb is getting the band back together, so to speak. This fall marks the 20th anniversary of Check-Out Hunger, a program that partners grocery stores with food banks. I am sure you have seen the colorful tags at the check-out isles in your local supermarket. In a simple way and without any fanfare, shoppers can take one or more of these tags and add that cost to their shopping total. easy, unobtrusive, and helpful.
The following is a press release from The Community Food Bank of New Jersey about Check-Out Hunger:
CHECK-OUT HUNGER RETURNS FOR 20th ANNIVERSARY YEAR
HILLSIDE, N.J. – Check-Out Hunger, an annual front-end awareness and fund raiser for the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, will be marking its 20th year milestone this fall. This campaign, which began in New Jersey, is run at supermarket chains across the northeast.
The Community FoodBank of New Jersey reports that need for nutritious food is up 30-40 percent at its partner agencies (soup kitchens, pantries, shelters, etc) this year.
In 2009 Check-Out Hunger crossed the $2 Million plateau for the first time. The campaign raised $2,093, 086 for food banks across the state. Since 1992, millions of people have supported the program at food markets and online at www.checkouthungernj.org.
Participating food markets include A&P, Food Basics, Foodtown, Kings, Pathmark, Shop Rite, Super Fresh, Wawa, and Wegmans.
This campaign was developed by the Community FoodBank in conjunction with the New Jersey Food Council and supermarket chains with headquarters in New Jersey. Currently the Community FoodBank of New Jersey administers the regional campaign with 14 chains for 32 food banks and affiliates in 9 states and the District of Columbia.
The Community FoodBank of New Jersey, a member of Feeding America, distributed 35 million pounds of food in the last year to people in need in 18 of New Jersey’s 21 counties. Its staff and volunteers fight hunger and poverty not only through the distribution of food and grocery products, but by education and training, and by creating new programs to meet the needs of low-income people. The Community FoodBank of New Jersey has earned Charity Navigator’s highest honor, a four-star rating.
The need is still very much present. A recent article noted that the Food Bank of South Jersey is estimating that they may be as much as 9000 turkeys short of what they need for Thanksgiving this year. So even though the plight of the food banks, which was all over the news two years ago, is not being talked about as much, things have not gotten significantly better. Demand is still strong. So if you can, please find a way to give of your abundance – either at the grocery store or by going to the Check-Out Hunger website and making a donation there. Give yourself that spark of warmth that only comes when you help others with your gifts.
On a related note…if you read us regularly, you know that we mention articles about food banks and food drives regularly on our Friday Foodstuffs posts. Lisa and I have been thinking about what more we can do regarding the food banks in our area, and came up with an idea. We will be introducing a new element to the blog next Monday that we hope will be helpful in this regard.