I'm a big fan of traditions, especially around the holidays. But this past year has definitely thrown me for a loop and shown me that, sometimes, instead of going back to our treasured traditions, we need to adapt our customs to fit what have been repeatedly referred to as "these unprecedented times." This year, it's even more important to be grateful for what we have, think about others who may be struggling, and make new traditions of giving back during a pandemic Thanksgiving. If you are able to, I recommend adding food donations to your holiday traditions as a safe-for-2020 activity and valuable way to make a positive impact in people's lives. Here are some organizations and resources to help you help others this holiday season.

Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels is an organization that delivers nutritious food to senior citizens with physical or financial hardships who cannot otherwise access proper meals. While Meals on Wheels is always a much needed and instrumental organization, it will be even more important this Thanksgiving. Seniors are increasingly at risk due to COVID-19 and may be isolating, unable to see family or go to the grocery store. Meals on Wheels will not only deliver meals but is also collecting other goodies to brighten up the holidays for these seniors. “Mugs of Love” filled with notes, magnets, and/or puzzles are greatly appreciated and as are volunteers and monetary donations.

Food Bank Donations

Angelica Pan

Holiday meals are something that many of us take for granted and that many families will be without this year, so food bank donations are key. Finding out what your local food bank needs, whether that be food, money, or volunteers, is one way to help others in your community. Remember: it’s imperative to check the website of your local food bank to see its specific needs. Foods like boxed stuffing, canned vegetables, and instant mashed potatoes are often highly requested around Thanksgiving (but your Thanksgiving leftovers are not).  

Charitable Food Organizations 

Organizations like the National Black Food and Justice Alliance, the Okra Project, No Kid Hungry, and the Hunger Project work year-round to fight hunger, and their work is critical during this pandemic Thanksgiving. Here is a list of other widespread, charitable food movements. If you are able to donate, find one that speaks to your values or operates in your community.

Support Healthcare Workers

We cannot thank our healthcare workers enough. They work to save lives, including during the holidays. At the beginning of the pandemic, food organizations like Meals4Heroes were donating meals to frontline workers. Many businesses are still doing so, even eight months later. Supporting healthcare workers can be as simple as offering to make a meal for a healthcare worker you know or telling them that you are thinking of them and appreciate all they have done.

As the pandemic continues, we need to make sure that we're look out for each other and for our communities. This Thanksgiving, take a moment to think about those around you who may need a helping hand, and see what you can do to offer support (even if that is just checking in on someone who is alone or calling someone who you haven't talked to in a while—the "little" things can make a big difference).  Stay safe, and have a happy Thanksgiving.