Halloween is over, the calendar has turned to November, and that means thoughts have turned to Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and all of the other holidays celebrated this time of year.
Many of us make plans to give back this time of year, whether we contribute to toy programs for kids, collect coats in advance of winter weather, or donate to food pantries and soup kitchens. Southern Maryland has a huge network of food pantries, most small and based at churches or community organizations. You don’t have to look far to find a food pantry you can support.
Here are five ways you can support food pantries in Southern Maryland.
Food pantries are always in need of non-perishable and perishable food items. But, before you go out shopping, it’s a good idea to the call the food pantry you’d like to donate to. Ask what their greatest needs are and buy accordingly.
Not sure what to buy? Food pantries can use monetary donations to shop for items they need in their inventory. Sometimes, they have tricks for making the money go further than you could.
Volunteer your time.
All that food needs to be collected, sorted, and distributed. Your volunteer time can help food pantries get their food to the people who need it.
Organize a food drive.
It’s easy to organize a food drive at your office, church, organization, or other group. A few signs and timely emails will let everyone know what you’re doing.
Get the kids involved.
We love activities that teach children about giving back to their community, and the “reverse Advent calendar” is a winner. Set out an empty box or basket when you start your traditional Advent calendar or holiday countdown. Each day, add a new non-perishable food item to the basket. Donate it when your countdown calendar ends or after the first of the year.
Southern Maryland Food Pantries
There are too many food banks in Southern Maryland to list here. The websites of these larger organizations will help you find a food pantry closer to home.
Southern Maryland Food Bank
This large organization is run by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington. It is a bulk food supplier, which means it collects food to distribute to food banks throughout the three Southern Maryland counties.
Find Southern Maryland Food Bank’s list of food pantries here: http://www.smfb.somd.com/pantries/.
End Hunger in Calvert County
Founded in 2008, End Hunger in Calvert County maintains a warehouse in Prince Frederick from which it distributes food to many food pantries in Calvert County. The organization also offers job training services and works to end the root causes of hunger in the county.
Find End Hunger in Calvert County’s list of food pantries here: http://www.endhungercalvert.org/partners-food-pantry/
Lifestyles of Maryland Foundation, Inc.
Lifestyle’s Samaritan Project is a food and clothing program available to those in need.
Find Lifestyles of Maryland’s list of food pantries here: http://www.lifestylesofmd.org/samaritan-project-
Maryland Food Bank
You can also use the searchable list at the Maryland Food Bank website to find local food pantries. Find the list here: https://www.mdfoodbank.org/need-food/.
The most important thing to remember is this: Food pantries need support all year long, not just at the holidays. Their clients are just as hungry in June as they are in December. Donations throughout the year help these organizations serve those in need.
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Cover image via Ending Hunger in Calvert County.