Ever since the start of the global pandemic, droves of Americans have lost their jobs, lost their homes, or are on the brink of homelessness. Also, millions of families have become what experts call food insecure. It means that households have “limited or uncertain access to enough food to support a healthy life.” Or, more plainly, people don’t have enough money to buy a bag of groceries.
The scale and scope of food insecurity is larger now than at any time since experts started studying hunger in the US. Anyone who watches the news has likely seen reporters interviewing ordinary Americans against drone footage of cars, miles long, lined up at mobile food pantries. People arrive before dawn and find wait-times as long as five, six hours, or longer. There are even times when after waiting, folks arrive to the front of the line only to find out that stock has been depleted. One volunteer at a Pittsburgh mobile food pantry recalled this happening to a New York Times reporter last April. “After sitting in their car for an hour and not receiving any food, they still said thank you.” The man left work early that day hoping to bring home enough food for his family, including his three daughters. “[He] departed empty-handed,” said the volunteer.
As reporters hold their microphones up to open car windows, many interviewees can barely stop themselves from breaking down in tears. They all say some version of “I never thought I would see myself in this situation.” It’s absolutely gut wrenching.
Deal websites like Dealmazing are among the densest, most competitive e-commerce categories online. When we launched the site, we knew we would have to do something to stand out from the pack, but we didn’t want to rely on silly stunts to attract attention. So we decided that our goal would be to help people. We help consumers save money on the products you need every day, while at the same time, we pledge a portion of our proceeds to a few deserving charities. Then came the hard part: determining which organizations to donate funds to.
How we chose Feeding America
While we started working on Dealmazing at the beginning of 2020, we didn’t launch until March. It might seem like ages ago, at this point, but the first known case of Covid-19 in America was suspected at the end of February. So the pandemic had only just migrated here.
With the exception of the virus spreading, some of the first stories of hardship to make the news was about businesses shutting down. People working in tourism and service industries, just to name two, went from having secure employment to unemployment in a matter of weeks. Soon, the unemployment rate was higher due to Covid-19 than any other time since the Great Depression. That’s when we started seeing stories about families struggling to buy groceries and the food pantries popping up in communities around the country. One organization that stepped in to help was Feeding America, a food bank that oversees meal distribution programs in 50 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. It was the first charity we included in Dealmazing’s giving program.
What is Feeding America
Feeding America is a food bank that was established in 1979. It went by a different name for almost two decades, but became Feeding America in 2008. A food bank is not the same as a soup kitchen or a food pantry. Rather, it’s the organization at the top of the chain that secures, stores, and ships food to community distribution sites. Today, Feeding America is the largest hunger-relief organization in the country and comprises 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries.
According to data by Feeding America, prior to the pandemic, more than 35 million Americans were at risk of food insecurity. After March 2020, those numbers skyrocketed. Experts estimate that thanks to widespread unemployment and loss of benefits (like student meal programs that halted when schools shut down), “more than 50 million people, including 17 million children” are hungry or at risk of food insecurity.
Just days into the new year, Washington Post reporter Siobhán O’Grady wrote, “The coronavirus intensified a hunger crisis last year, but 2021 could be worse.” That’s because people can’t simply bounce back from being out of work for eight months, especially after getting behind on bills. Another article reported that some Americans are resorting to shoplifting for basic, crucial necessities, such as baby formula, bread and hygiene products. The reporters interviewed a security expert, Jeff Zisner, who talked about the increase in low-impact crimes. He explained that people aren’t just pocketing commonly shoplifted items like razors, headphones, and makeup. “It’s a very different kind of crime,” said Zisner. “It’s people stealing consumables and items associated with children and babies.”
How to support community food banks and Feeding America
There are various ways to help families put food on the table. It means patronizing businesses that support local food banks and Feeding America. There are also a few ways that individuals can help raise money for local food kitchens, like holding fundraisers or running a social media campaign.
#1 Donate Money
The easiest way to support Feeding America and local banks is to donate online. Go to Feedingamerica.org then click the red Donate button.
You have the option of making a one-time donation, or signing up for monthly donations. Feeding America has a 99% Charitable Commitment and Fundraising Efficiency rating by Forbes. And Charity Navigator gave the organization four stars. To keep your donation in your community, scroll down to “Find Your Local Food Bank” on Feeding America’s landing page and enter your zip code.
If you do opt to donate your money locally, it’s not a band idea to head over to Charity Navigator to check the organization’s financial, accountability and transparency ratings. When a charity has a low score, it could mean that a large percentage of donations are going to things like employee salaries rather than to fulfill the program’s mission.
#2 Support Businesses that Support Feeding America
You probably see this all the time when you’re shopping online. Website’s vie for market share by promising to donate proceeds to charity. (That’s Dealmazing’s business model!). This is a great way to support worthy organizations outside of your own personal giving.
The way it works at Dealmazing is that you see a product you need or like, you click the link and purchase it. Dealmazing then gets a small commission and we automatically allocate a percentage of the fee to Feeding America and other charities.
Note that while this blog post is about Feeding America, we give people the opportunity to choose which charity to donate proceeds to.
Here are some companies that, like Dealmazing, also donates a portion of profits to charity.
- Popsockets are those pop-up buttons you stick to the back of your phone for a more secure grip on your device. When customers purchase Poptivism designs, the company donates 50% to the food bank.
- Handbag and jewelry designer, Edie Parker, donates 15% of proceeds from all sample sale items to Feeding America and other meal distribution organizations.
- TikTok and 100 Coconuts have partnered on a promotion to sell a limited edition can of coconut water. While 15% of all proceeds go to Feeding America, a portion of donations are sent to a food bank where the purchase was initiated.
#3 Volunteer at Your Local Food Distribution Center
Technically, you won’t be volunteering for Feeding America, but rather, you’ll be helping get food to people in your community. Just click on “Take Action” at the top of the page. When you enter your zip code, you’ll get links to food banks and distribution sites in your community. Volunteers help sort and pack food, hand out groceries at mobile pantries, and deliver meals. Many community food banks encourage families and groups of friends to volunteer together.
#4 Start a Fundraiser
Help raise money for Feeding America. This is a great project for school groups. Just go to Fundraise for Feeding America to see all the information you need to get started. There are tips for creating a fundraiser around a special talent, like baking or making jewelry. You can try your hand at hosting a charity livestream online, run a school food drive, or donate stocks and funds to the nationwide organization. If you’re a business owner, there are instructions for hosting a company fundraiser.
To find out more about Dealmazing, and which charities we donate to, check out our blog post, Support Causes that you Care About by Shopping Dealmazing.