In the words of the Pilgrims, "Turkey is for sharing!"

‘Tis the season to wear our Pilgrim hats and share with others! During this week of food-filled self indulgence, it’s important to remember that friends and neighbors across the nation are struggling to put food on their tables this time of year, particularly in this terrible economy. Many food banks and hunger relief programs have been hit especially hard, with fewer donations and larger numbers in need.

CNN recently covered the plight of food banks around the country who are finding their food inventories much smaller than in previous years. According to one California food bank, the number of community members in need of food assistance has jumped nearly 20% this year, with the food bank serving 16,000 people each month. Food bank administrators are especially surprised at the changing demographic of those in need, noting the increase in “middle-class poor” families from the suburbs.

So, this week, while you’re enjoying your delicious, well-cooked meal:

  • Think about what you can do to reduce food waste during the holidays.
  • Consider donating your food leftovers.
  • Support your local hunger and food bank organizations, including Share Our Strength, Feeding America and City Harvest.
  • As a culinary professional, consider donating your time to a local food bank for food preparation and/or distribution. (Hey, they’ll be happy to have you, even if you aren’t a culinary professional!)
  • Encourage your favorite local restaurants to donate their unused food items. Many cities offer food rescue programs, such as Portland’s Fork It Over, where food is picked up and distributed to local shelters.
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