Feeding the Hungry is also Feeding Hope
This Christmas season, see if there is anything you can do to help the less fortunate in your community. As a prepper, I know we should take care of our family and ourselves first, but if we have had a good year and our families are taken care of, there is no better time to look to our friends and community. Preppers are in a unique position to help others in many ways. My faith is very clear on the matter of giving as many religions are, I believe if we can help, we should help.
One of the easiest things preppers can do to help their friends and community is to donate food, especially during this time of year as it is so badly needed. There are many different churches and food banks that are running short this holiday season. Our national economy has fallen on hard times. You may have noticed this affecting your neighbors, members of your church, or maybe even a member of your own family. If you are able to, use your bargain hunting skills, couponing skills, and bulk buying skills to help your communities.
I have seen the topic of donating food discussed online and I want to address some of the concerns and questions I have seen from preppers:
“I would rather help them, help themselves, than just provide handouts.”
I am inclined to help others in the form of teaching rather than hand outs as well. I believe strongly in the old saying “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” It implies that with skills, a person can fend for themselves and will require assistance from no one.
Many situations could occur that would put a person into an unexpected position of need. Perhaps a layoff, or untimely divorce, or illness has robbed a person or family of their ability to afford food and pay bills, in that case, temporary help from a food bank needed. This is why safety nets (in the form of food banks) are needed. If possible, we should help support these local food banks, they provide a valuable service to our communities. While we all prepare for the worst, you never know when you may be in that exact position of unexpected need and be depending on the generosity of others. There will always be someone willing to take advantage of the system, but don’t let those people stop you from helping those who truly need it.
No one should feel like they are prepping incorrectly if they choose to donate food to a local food bank. If you have all of your preps in line and find yourself with extra it’s a credit to your dedication, not an indication that you’ve done something wrong! It means you have done well enough you have taken care of yourself, your family and now have extra for others. Preppers care a great deal about food as it is one of the things that keeps us alive. Quite often we quote, “Food is a Weapon Don’t Waste It!” Donating food to the hungry in your community is not “wasting it”, it is instead an investment in your community. It’s a way of giving others hope. There is no shame in helping others!
“I can’t donate expired food!”
Some food banks will take expired goods and some will not. Some will take expired food but only if it’s within a certain amount of time, of being expired. It often depends on who is funding them and what rules they have adhere to. Your best bet for finding a food bank that will take expired food is to look for privately run and funded food banks or ones that are run through churches as they have fewer rules to adhere than ones that are tied to government grants. In fact, they may not even be called “food banks” they may be called “rescue missions” or something to that tune.
As preppers, we know that the expiration date on most cans of food does NOT mean the food is bad – it usually only means the manufacturer is not going to guarantee the products optimum freshness and nutritional values beyond that date. It’s also second nature to preppers to rotate their food. The first food you pull out of your pantry is usually the oldest, the new stuff goes in the back. This is the basic principle of food storage rotation. So it is natural for us to pull out the stuff in the front (the oldest stuff) and donate that. This does not mean we are treating the needy like second class citizens unworthy of new food! It means we are trying not to “waste” and we are being “frugal” which one of the main principles of preparedness.
“All I have is stuff from my garden and they won’t take home canned foods.”
This is true, I am not aware of any food banks or rescue missions that accept home canned goods for liability purposes, but you have two other options. Some food banks, like rescue missions, church based groups, and privately run organizations WILL take your fresh garden produce! Just drop in and ask them if they will. One local food bank in my town will even give you seeds if you agree to plant a row of veggies in your garden for the hungry! You supply the work and garden space, they supply the seeds. Then, after harvest, you drop off your donations.
Also many food banks are now accepting donations through gleaning clubs. You can participate by either joining the club yourself and donating your time picking and collecting left over produce, or you can call a gleaning club in your area and have them come clean up your garden in the fall! Just be sure they donate most of what they glean to your local food banks.
Another option is to donate personal products, or pet food instead. Many food banks and rescue missions also accept deodorant, shampoo, bars of soap, tooth paste, cat food, dog food and so on. Most animal shelters will gladly take donated pet food, but only some have distribution programs for the public, the ones that don’t reinvest the donated food to the animals currently at the shelter, so you will have inquire. Some food banks and rescue missions will also take gently used clothing. Preppers happen to be very good all of the above – so if you have extra in those areas, they could also be donated as well as food.
How I approach giving.
I believe that when I have “wealth” (whether it be extra money or food) it’s not really “my wealth,” but wealth that God has given me to manage. So I try to manage that wealth in a way that God would approve of. I am certainly not perfect at this, but I do try to improve as time goes on. Part of my self-reliance journey has been learning how and when to give. I hope this article has given you some ideas and confidence on how you can give too. If you have any other tips or ideas on how to use your prepping skills to the help the less fortunate in your neighborhood please post them in the comments below!
I wish everyone out there a Merry Christmas and a Happy Prepared New Year!
Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.
Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.