A month-by-month school year guide on giving back

Julia and her family, including her 12-year-old son Julio (in red), visit a food pantry in Ruskin, Florida.
August 3, 2018
by Ash Slupski

It’s August. The days are hot , the back-to-school ads have just begun to hit your TV, and your family is beginning to get anxious about the upcoming school year. Before you mourn summer's end, remember this is a perfect time to create new family habits.

If you want to help your kids be more kind and generous, now is the perfect time to start. In the span of one school year, August to May, your family can take steps to boost your children’s compassion and desire to help their community.

Here’s our month-by-month guide of easy activities to make giving back a habit for your kids.

August: Start a family book club
Maybe you let your kids’ summer reading list fall by the wayside or allowed your library pile to gather dust. There’s no better way to encourage reading than to read as a family. Choose a book that puts you in someone else’s shoes and turn TV time into book club time. Encourage everyone to share what they're learning as they read.

September: Reduce food waste in your kitchen
It’s a sad fact that America wastes billions of pounds of food each year. Being mindful about food waste at home is an important way to share the importance of food for everyone These small changes in your family’s habits can make a big difference in reducing your food waste.

October: Cook up some food bank inspired recipes
Healthy eating is important to every family. Food banks love creating recipes that give families idea for nutritious meals with new flavors and ingredients. Plus, many of these recipes are kid-friendly (with adult supervision) for those budding chefs. Give them a try!

November: Encourage gratitude
Make time at your Thanksgiving meal to discuss with your family what each of you are grateful for. Make a list of your family’s responses and pin it to the fridge to serve as a reminder to practice gratitude.  This also reminds your children that not all families have what they need.

December: Make it a movie night
The days are shorter, and the weather has gotten cold so if your family is going into hibernation mode anyway, make it meaningful. Add these family-friendly movies to your winter break watch list and talk with your family about the true meaning of the holiday spirit – giving more to others than we give to ourselves.  

January: Volunteer as a family
Start the year off right with a resolution to help your neighbors.  Volunteering as a family is a great way to spend time together. Your local food bank has lots of different ways to get involved.

February: Make a Valentine for your food bank
Food banks across the country work tirelessly to make sure that millions of people have enough to eat. Why not show them some love? Encourage your kids to get crafty and make a one-of-a-kind Valentine for the staff at your local food bank. Take a photo and share it on Facebook or Instagram to encourage friends to send a Valentine too.

March: Host a food bank field trip
Did you love your volunteer experience earlier in the year? Do even more good by working with your local food bank to host a group from your community. A group volunteer event is perfect for youth groups, scout troops and even classrooms. Plus, your kids will be able to share with their peers about why volunteering is important to your family.

April: Plan a community fundraiser
Join forces with your school, church or community organization to fundraise for kids and families in need of meals. While food drives are a great way to help, your impact is greater when you help raise funds.

May: Plant a family garden
As the temperature warms up, help your kids create their own garden – it is one of the best ways to teach children about where fruits and vegetables come from. Your kids will enjoy watering and weeding while also experiencing the anticipation of their harvest. Your family will also have the pleasure of giving back when you donate extra produce to your local food bank. These five vegetables are easy to grow and keep growing.
No outdoor space? No worries. You can start a small herb garden in your window with minimal sunlight.


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