Americans are facing food insecurity. Philanthropists can help.
December 26, 2020
The world was turned upside down in March.
As the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the United States, a healthy economy was eviscerated in days. Millions of Americans lost their jobs, with countless others placed on indefinite furlough. Small and medium-sized businesses across the country abruptly shut their doors. The Dow Jones, on the cusp of 30,000 in February, began shedding thousands of points each day.
The results were felt quickly. Headlines were filled with news of more than 40 million Americans unemployed, of a drastic spike in unemployment insurance applications, of shortages at grocery stores and of long lines at local food banks. Americans, suddenly and unexpectedly, had trouble putting food on the table.
Feeding America estimates the number of Americans experiencing food insecurity has jumped from 35 to 50 million this year as a result of the pandemic. Nonprofit and local programs have prevented this number from climbing even higher, but many of these programs are facing insolvency as we enter the new year.
At the Amit Raizada Foundation, we seek to catalyze lasting social change that impacts lives. I believe food insecurity is fundamentally a social challenge that must be addressed with a suite of philanthropic and nonprofit programs.
As philanthropists, it is incumbent upon us to deliver solutions to those in our communities struggling under the weight of food insecurity. Here are a few ways that we can lend a hand both to those in need and to the generous local nonprofit organizations driving positive change in their communities.
Donating what’s needed
When it comes to donating to local food banks, conventional wisdom holds that you should give in-kind items. While heading to the local grocery store and loading up a cart for the local foodbank is still a critical act of generosity that can go a long way for local families in need, food bank professionals ask that donors instead provide monetary contributions.
Food bank administrators say that monetary donations allow them to purchase the products most direly demanded in their community. While in-kind donations are helpful, donors often give products for which the immediate need is not acute. Monetary donations allow food banks to buy exactly what their constituents need, which makes your contributions more efficient and even more impactful.
Donate to community institutions
Food banks are not the only organizations working to provision food to families. During the COVID-19 pandemic, food provision has increasingly become the purview of local organizations like schools, senior centers and houses of worship. I recommend doing a quick Google search to see which institutions in your community are taking it upon themselves to fight food insecurity.
The COVID-19 pandemic has confined many high-risk populations, including the elderly, to their homes, presenting an interesting problem for organizations working against food insecurity. How, for example, can we help those populations who are not able to leave their homes and wait in line at a local food bank or church?
The answer has been touchless food delivery services. Zoomers to Boomers, for example, is a grassroots organization in which young people, statistically at lower risk of contracting a serious case of the virus, deliver donated items to elderly populations.
Consider taking steps to support, or even help develop, services like this in your community.
This has been a theme across a number of different verticals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you do decide to donate in-kind items to a local food provider, consider purchasing them from a local business. Mom and pop shops have struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic. Purchasing food and other items from these stores has a multiplying effect—it supports businesses in the community, keeps employees and proprietors out of food insecurity, and provides relief to those actively experiencing it.
Amit Raizada is a forward-thinking entrepreneur and investor whose mastery of investment and growth strategies has helped launch and grow countless successful business ventures across the globe. In 2002, Raizada founded Spectrum Business Ventures which today consists of more than 80 operating companies spanning multiple industries including technology, entertainment, real estate, financial services, hospitality, retail, eSports, fashion and others. Raizada is a lifelong philanthropist with a devout passion for giving back to the community, and in 2017 cofounded Vision Global Foundation, which supports charitable causes around the globe that focus on children and families in need. For more information about Amit Raizada please visit his bio page.