If you feel like giving a little extra this holiday season, your local food bank probably could use a hand or two.
In the month of March, over 800,000 Canadians used a food bank and according to the annual "HungerCount" report, more and more Canadians (an increased rate of 2.5 per cent) are turning to food banks for daily meals.
But not all of us have access to a giant sleigh or reindeer, so when it comes to finding that extra help, Kathy Murphy, corporate affairs director at Kraft Canada says it all starts with gathering the people you know and committing to make change.
"The biggest issue with food banks is their ability to meet the growing needs of people and meet their goals of capacity," she tells The Huffington Post Canada. Murphy adds that buying extra groceries, setting up a food drive at the office of even spending a few months organizing a community-based fundraiser, are all easy ways to give back.
And sometimes all you need is 50 seconds. Kraft Food For Families is offering 50 cent donations for any Canadian food bank of your choice until December 31 when you visit their site, kraftfoodforfamilies.ca.
Eager to make change this holiday season? Here are 5 ways you can help the food bank in 50 seconds, 5 minutes, 5 hours, 5 days, 5 weeks and 5 months:
5 Minutes: Donate At The Grocery Store
The next time you go grocery shopping, check to see if the store is collecting any items for local food banks, says Kathy Murphy, corporate affairs director at Kraft Canada. "It takes five minutes to buy something, so why not donate it? If you're shopping for peanut butter, buy two and donate the other," she says.
5 Hours: Volunteer At The Food Bank
During the year (especially during the holiday season), food banks need volunteers to sort, manage and give out food, Murphy says. If you have five hours to spare, gather a group of friends or co-workers and head to your local food bank. "It's the time of year when food banks receive large donations and they need help to sort it out," she says.
5 Days: Organize A Food Drive
If you have a week off during the holidays, Murphy suggests organizing a food drive at your holiday party or even one at the office. Giving people a week gives them enough time to mobilize and collect donations, she adds.
5 Weeks: Fill A Hamper
When you have five weeks, think long-term: Every week when you go grocery shopping, try to save one item to donate. "Have the goal to fill a hamper and donate this to a food bank," Murphy says.
5 Months: Working On Long-Term Goals
One of the biggest issues for Canadian food banks is the ability to meet the growing demands and needs of serving people in the long run, Murphy says. If you have five months and want to volunteer with a food bank, Murphy recommends talking to them about meeting their capacity needs and working towards one long-term goal. For example, you could organize a fundraiser or help the organization look for sponsors or partnerships.