The holidays bring out generosity of all sorts, including meeting our neighbors’ immediate needs by donating to holiday food drives.

Donated food helps feed the more than 900,000 Alabamians, including 300,000 children, who are food insecure and at risk of hunger. Food security means access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.

Consider matching your gift of canned goods with other simple actions you can do to break down barriers to prosperity. Alabama Possible’s Poverty Education AmeriCorpsVISTA April Davis came up with this list:

1. Donate fresh produce, cooking oil, or spices. Food banks serve many different populations. Low-income families and soup kitchens need cooking ingredients. Here are some suggestions for holiday donations.

2. Volunteer. Food banks and pantries rely on volunteers. An hour of your time can go a long way. The greatest need is for regular volunteers throughout the year and not only on holidays. Volunteering involves anything from serving food to sorting food. Connect with your local food bank here.

3. Donate money. Food banks can buy up to seven meals with just $1 thanks to they have with grocers and other food providers.

4. Advocate by learning and spreading the word. Raise awareness of poverty and food insecurity by posting on Facebook, tweeting statistics, and talking to your friends and family. Include a call to action to get others involved.

5. Contact your elected officials, which is the longest-lasting way to reduce hunger. Elected officials put policies into place that have generational impacts on food insecurity. For instance, grocery taxes can negatively impacts families limited budgets. Conversations with their constituents frequently sway elected officials’ opinions and spur them to action. Read one such story here. You can learn more about poverty and food insecurity in your community by using our annual Poverty Data Sheet and visiting Feeding America. Not sure who to contact?  This link has the answers.

Images courtesy West Alabama Food Bank (top left); Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (bottom right).