Charitable giving is part of American culture as much as blowout shopping days like Black Friday. In 2014, Americans gave $358 billion, according to the National Philanthropic Trust. That's almost $3,000 per household.
For the last four years, thousands of people around the world have devoted the Tuesday after Thanksgiving to philanthropy. They donate to nonprofits, foundations and other organizations that turn around and help others. Many groups are trying to meet fundraising goals before the end of the year, and it’s hardly a coincidence that their efforts coincide with a season when charitable giving is on our minds – whether you celebrate the holidays or want to take advantage of last-minute tax breaks.
Giving Tuesday, which offers a cheerful, less materialistic follow-up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, is Dec. 1. Organizers draw a wide range of partners, from cancer research foundations to food pantries. You can use their website to search for yourself, or you can use this compiled a list of food-related nonprofits worth considering when you’re looking to support a good cause this year.
1. The Food Bank: Feeding America
Through this network of food banks, every $1 multiplies into 22 meals. Each year, Feeding America provides 3.6 billion meals to more than 46 million people who are hungry. Hunger in the U.S. continues to be a major problem – 1 in 7 people struggle with hunger, according to Feeding America. People who can’t afford high quality food suffer from health problems like obesity and diabetes. So, besides working with 200 food banks across the country, Feeding America conducts research on hunger and health among affected groups of people. The organization says 98 percent of donated funds go toward providing meals to people. You can donate to the national organization or you can use their food bank locator map to find and donate to your local food bank, so your dollars stay in your community.
2. The Educator: FoodCorps
More than 200 AmeriCorps service members work in high-need schools across the country to teach kids about food and health. This program, called FoodCorps, teaches cooking, gardening and nutrition with educators and community leaders in more than 500 schools across 17 states and Washington, D.C. Their goal is to improve health in children by introducing students to healthy food and where it comes from – and making sure they have access to it – at school, where they spend a quarter of their time and consume half their daily calories. You can donate on their website.
3. The Volunteer: Food Recovery Network
In the U.S., we waste a lot of food every year. About 133 billion pounds, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Food Recovery Network started a student organization at the University of Maryland but has grown to include more than 160 chapters at colleges and universities across 39 states. Students volunteer to rescue excess prepared food from their dining halls and deliver it to community nonprofits, including homeless shelters and soup kitchens. So far, they’ve rescued more than a million pounds of food. They hope to raise $20,000 through their Giving Tuesday #FRNdzy. All the donations will be matched by the Newmans’ Own Foundation.
4. The Media: Civil Eats
This news site provides features and in-depth coverage of agriculture and the politics of food. Civil Eats says it’s “a daily news source for critical thought about America’s food system.” With media partners like The Atlantic, Civil Eats has a significant platform from which it can inform and invite discussion of modern food issues. It was founded in 2009 and regularly publishes stories about people working to change the food system and research into food-related sectors. You can subscribe for just $25 a year or you can above that and donate to their work.
5. The Watchdog: Cornucopia Institute
By conducting research and investigations, the Cornucopia Institute advocates for family farmers and informs them, consumers and the media about agricultural issues, including the meaning of the term “natural,” the . They support sustainable and organic agriculture and keep an eye on the quality of certified organic brands by rating producers of products, such as eggs, dairy, soy and pet food. This group acts as a watchdog over a growing industry for consumers who value a transparent, safe food system. You can donate to them on their website.
6. The Farmer: Farmers Market Coalition
The Farmers Market Coalition wants farmers to earn a living selling their products. It wants consumers to gain access to fresh, nutritious food. And it wants communities to reclaim the social space a vibrant market can offer. Farmers markets are at the heart of the local food movement because they make room for farmers to meet and build relationships with consumers and vice versa. The good ones provide a safe place to ask questions, learn growing methods and culinary tips, and spend money on good food that, in turn, builds the local economy. Farmers markets are also fighting to increase food access. The FMC has offered support to markets that need equipment to accept Supplemental Food Nutrition benefits and other food assistance vouchers. FMC provides information and tools to markets and advocates for for them in state and federal government. You can support FMC by following the link on their website.
So what are you waiting for? There are dozens of good food organizations that could use your charitable giving this year. People say your spending shows your values. If you shop at farmers markets or get a CSA, you probably believe that, too. If none of these organizations resonate with you but you like the idea of supporting good food through charitable giving, Food Tank, a think tank devoted to food issues, makes it easy to find others.
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