Needless to say, 2020 has been a much different year than expected. With COVID changing and canceling most of our holiday parties and traditions I found it difficult to imagine doing one of the things that I love most during the holiday season — donating food to the homeless.

Throughout the year, the coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult (and mostly impossible) to physically help others outside of your "bubble." This has caused a negative feedback loop; with the economy dropping and the number of homeless families and individuals rising, the world needs people to give back to their community. 

Helena Lin

Although this season's donation may look different than that of the past, it is important to recognize that contributions are still possible. Here are a few ways you can donate to local food banks or homeless shelters while still remaining COVID conscious. 

1. Donate Money

Alexa (Lexye) Hill

Most homeless shelters have an online website where you can easily donate money towards the location's cause. Depending on the shelter or food bank you can donate specific "gifts" to different units within the location. Obviously, this form of help allows you to stay home and stay safe while still giving back to your community. 

2. Become a Volunteer

Man Wearing a Face Mask Paying for Pizza Delivery · Free Stock Photo

on Pexels

About five miles outside of the University of Florida lies Grace Marketplace, a homeless shelter and service center that is currently in phase three of their coronavirus response. This means that they are still allowing for new volunteers to attend an orientation and have ongoing coronavirus testing. Although volunteering and meal groups cannot continue until phase four, with having completed your orientation, you can begin as a new volunteer as soon as the change occurs.

3. Disinfect Your Packaged Food

Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

Unsplash on unsplash

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that there was a lack of evidence that showed the virus being transmitted via food packaging, it is important to always take more precautions when preparing to donate. To ensure safety, professionals recommend wiping down the surfaces of the cans, bags, or boxes with sanitizing wipes or disinfectant-soaked paper towels. For extra precautions, letting the donations sit for a few days before taking to the shelter is a safe option. Of course, it is always important to wash your hands before and after handling the food packages. 

4. Call Your Local Shelter or Food Bank

Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

Unsplash on unsplash

Depending on where you live and the phase of your current location, the policies regarding food donations and volunteering will differ. It is most reliable to go straight to the source and ask how you can help during this time. Regardless if you get to donate money or physically show up and feed those in the shelter, you are making a difference and are so appreciated.

Helping Out 

Although the 2020 holiday season is different from what we have seen before, you can still give back to your community in a safe way. Everyone needs each other right now, and donating food, time, or money to local food banks is just one way you can help your community in a socially distanced time.