November 24, 2015
by Diana Aviv, Feeding America CEO

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we are officially entering the holiday season. I look forward to this season all year long, as it’s a time for gratitude, giving back and celebrating with family and friends. It’s also a time steeped in tradition, when we share the customs of generations past with the people we care about.

In my family, many of these traditions take place around the table. Growing up in South Africa,  we celebrated with different holidays but with the same tradition of coming together and finding a table filled with a cornucopia of the foods accociated with that holiday, with friends often bringing their favorite dish to add to the bounty. As my family gathered around, plates were piled, it was hard to hear one another above the chatter among my sisters and our friends. When I moved to the U.S., I carried with me a passion for gathering people together over a meal and sharing ideas, news and so much  more. And although people, and places may vary, imagine my holiday experiences are similar to millions of others, in that meals play a major role in making lasting memories. Holiday meals feed a culture, a sense of belonging and for most a sense of wellbeing.

And yet while I look forward to welcoming family and friends into my home  and celebrating with special meals, I am also aware that for millions of Americans a simple dinner – not to mention  a festive spread – is entirely out of reach. In the U.S. today, 48 million people face hunger. It breaks my heart to hear of parents who want to pass on traditions and make the season magical, but don’t have the means to buy food or even basic supples, let alone a modest git for their child.  In this land of plenty, as our nation feasts, they go without. During the holidays, families facing hunger are not only denied the nourishment they need, they are also prevented  from creating  the traditions that bring them closer and foster culture and community. For people struggling to get by hunger always looms, and during the holidays it is all the more painful.

Despite this sad reality, there is also hope. For where there is hunger, there are foodbanks, soup kitchens, houses of worship and pantries ready to offer a warm meal. And threading these amazing organizations together are the passionate and dedicated men and women who work for and volunteer and support the Feeding America network. Through holiday food drives, meals and events, Feeding America food banks work hard to provide struggling families with the food they need to make the season special. While hunger exists all year round, the demand on our network is particularly great during the holidays. We hope we can count on your help to meet the need. To learn more about how you can fight holiday hunger, find and contact your local food bank. Through donating, advocating or volunteering – there are plenty of ways you can sprinkle a bit more holiday magic into the lives of families facing hunger.

On behalf of us all at Feeding America, I wish you a very happy holiday season. May it be filled with  joy, love and  community. And most importantly, may we embrace the spirit of the season giving back to our neighbors in need.

Tags: Fighting Hunger in Action

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