As the lockdown continues, many organizations have found difficulty in providing one of the most basic necessities—food. It is no surprise why food banks around the country have seen a dramatic increase in people in a matter of seven weeks. The long lines, shortage of volunteer staff, and decrease in food quantity are just the start of what we are already in the midst of: a food crisis. It is heartbreaking to see videos on social media of people waiting for hours just to provide their families with a few weeks of food, and still have no idea when this will be all over. Yet, like most Americans, I am hoping to enact some change, no matter how small or large—so here are four ways that you can help reduce food insecurity right now.

Reduce Buying Products for Certain Assistance Programs

Kathryn Stouffer

I understand that going to the grocery store right now can be a tedious job filled with apprehension and anxiety. However, it is important to remember not to buy certain items that individuals in the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program could also buy. This program allows its participants to buy certain brands from grocery stores, like Great Value, Welch's, and many more using their WIC check.  However, if that particular brand or size of the product is not available, the individual is unable to obtain essential items such as bread, cereal, and selected protein. The grocery label for each product, which shows the WIC sign in a red bubble next to the price, is a good way to check whether the item you have is WIC applicable.

Donate or Volunteer at Feeding America

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Anna Arteaga

Volunteering at this time can be a scary thing to do, especially if you live with other people who may be at risk of contracting the coronavirus. However, if you are capable, volunteering can relieve some of the strain caused by staff shortages. Feeding America, among countless other organizations, is experiencing volunteer shortages, so the more people that are willing to help, the easier it is for people to have access to the food that they need and overall, reduce food insecurity. If you cannot volunteer but are able to make a donation, that is also an option to help food banks around the country.

Help a Neighbor

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As we are isolated in our homes, we tend to forget about the people around us, including our neighbors. They are the ones that may be struggling without us even knowing. Helping this food crisis can also mean helping just one person or one family. If you have the capability, simply ask your neighbors whether they are okay in terms of their food supply, and assist each other as needed. I saw a fantastic example on the internet, where an apartment complex converted their common area into a local food pantry for anyone in need.

Get Involved

Yet with all the steps that we take individually, we need to take an even bigger step, nationally. Bernie Sanders and countless other politicians have tweeted many times that we need the government to take action with these shortages. The news often mentions that farms are filled with products, but we're missing a plan to deliver it to people in need. It seems truly disheartening to hear that we have the means, but have not figured out a way to transfer and allocate products across food banks desperately in need of food. If you have the ability, contact your local government to see how they are partnering up with food banks and farms and ask if there is any way to help. This crisis is hitting everyone in the nation and if we can figure out a way together, it will immensely impactful.

As we try to bring some normalcy within the chaos, we need to remember that we aren’t the only ones going through this uncertainty and doubt. There are many other ways to help outside of food insecurity. Many great presidents have said that in times of need, as a country, we get stronger. I hope that the resources I shared can inspire you to help reduce food insecurity, whether it means through small or large acts of service.