My dad bakes pies during the holiday season. He tries to get a start around Thanksgiving and keeps it up through the New Year. He bakes because he likes to – and he’s good at it – and he likes the feeling of giving a little bit to others and watching them smile.
He doesn’t expect anything in return – because that’s how he is.
That kind of giving, without expecting in return, is what matters most.
Where there are many in need, even the smallest of gestures can go a long way.
And not just during the holiday season.
In the Columbia area there are many opportunities to offer food help. And, there’s a definite need. According to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap data from 2013, the most recent year available, there are 814,560 people in South Carolina – including 69,720 in Richland County, 32,200 in Lexington County, and 20,160 in Sumter County – who are “food insecure.” That means they do not always know where they will find their next meal.
They may be friends or neighbors or family who have had to deal with sudden adversity – from the loss of a job, for example, or loss of a home or business during October’s flood. Or just simply don’t have enough in their pockets to make ends meet.
Whatever the reason, here are some options for you to help.
Harvest Hope Food Bank began as a grassroots organization in 1981 and now serves the needs of South Carolinians in 20 counties. The organization dedicates 98 cents of every dollar to feeding the hungry and last year distributed more than 28 million pounds of food. On average, Harvest Hope Food Bank has a complete turnover of supplies in the warehouse every 7 to 10 days.
Volunteer your time or donate money and/or food items. You can also host a Virtual Food Drive, where you can purchase food online and send directly to Harvest Hope Food Bank via a grocery basket system. Set up a link for yourself or your business, send an email to participants and link to Facebook and Twitter accounts (contact Kristy McLellan at firstname.lastname@example.org for details).
Lexington Interfaith Community Services came together in the late 1970s as a group of lay people and community associations led by the Lexington Ministerial Association to provide basic needs to families in crisis. In addition to food, LICS provides clothing, referrals and limited financial assistance (utilities, rent, prescriptions, auto fuel and lodging) and counseling on an emergency basis.
Some of the programs LICS hosts, in addition to food drives, include occasional series of Empowering Families with Home Cooking classes geared at teaching basic cooking skills, working with a budget, stocking a pantry and meal preparation. Check the calendar for details or contact Gloria Outlaw, (803) 957-6656, ext. 230, email@example.com
Oliver Gospel Mission was founded in 1888 by the Rev. Robert C Oliver, who purchased land at Assembly and Taylor streets for a mission that cares for destitute citizens. The building at 1100 Taylor St. was completed in 1889, and renovated in 1989 and 2005 to bring it up to modern code standards and to create room for storage, classrooms, offices and computer labs.
Over the years, programs have been added to adapt to the changing needs of the community. Today, Oliver Gospel Mission serves men 18 years and older through services that include food and shelter and clothing, addiction recovery program, chapel and a program to aid in securing employment and housing. This year, plans for a new mission were announced, Toby’s Place for Women and Children will be a future center providing aid to homeless women with and without children.
In 2014, Oliver Gospel Mission provided a total of 64,274 freshly prepared meals for its clients. You can donate canned items (fruits and vegetables are in demand) or money (as little as $20.50 will provide 10 meals), see www.olivergospelmission.org/gifts-in-kind for immediate needs.
Ronald McDonald Make-A-Meal Program provides home-cooked meals for family members staying at the Ronald McDonald House while their children are undergoing medical treatment at area hospitals. The Make-A-Meal program allows volunteers to prepare hot breakfasts on the weekends or dinners during the week at the Ronald McDonald House or “sponsor” a meal by purchasing carry-out from a restaurant or store for the families (usually 18-20 people total in the house). You can sponsor or cook one meal only, get a group together and cook once a week or once a month – whatever you can handle. Details: (803) 254-3181 or email Liz Atkinson, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior Resources Inc. Meals on Wheels delivers hot, nutritious meals to the elderly, disabled and home-bound. Most Meals on Wheels clients are below poverty level and may have to choose between food, medication or other household needs. The meals are not necessarily free. Evaluations are made to access need and some may be asked to pay on a sliding scale. That said, no one is denied a meal based on income.
In 2014, the Meals on Wheels program provided 81,179 meals to more than 500 Richland County residents on a daily basis. Volunteers are needed to pack and/or deliver meals between 9 a.m and noon Monday through Friday, and substitute delivery volunteers are always welcome. Families and businesses are welcome to adopt a delivery route to share among members or employees or to organize a one-day delivery “blitz” to provide a break for regular volunteers.
Once a month, Pet Pals delivers pet food to Meals on Wheels clients who are pet owners. Volunteers can organize a pet food drive or, for $20 a month, become a Pet Pals Sponsor to help feed and provide veterinary care to pets in need.
For details on both programs, contact Mekia Alston, (803) 252-7734, ext. 236, or email email@example.com
Not My Father’s Pecan Pie
1 9-inch pie shell
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2 cups chopped toasted pecans
1 to 2 tablespoons bourbon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 eggs, slightly beaten
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the nuts, bourbon and vanilla. Set mixture aside to cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
Whisk beaten eggs into cooled mixture until smooth. Pour filling into pie shell.
Bake on the lower oven rack until edges are set but the center is slightly loose, about 40 to 45 minutes. Cool on a rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
Most needed items for donation
Canned meat (tuna, chicken, chili, beef stew)
Peanut butter and jelly
Canned vegetables (green beans, sweet peas, corn, tomatoes)
Pork and beans
Pasta (spaghetti, egg noodles, penne)
Boxed mac and cheese
Instant mashed potatoes
Rice (one pound bags)
Corn muffin mix
Dry cereal and breakfast bars
Grits and oatmeal
Personal care items
Toothpaste and toothbrushes
Antibacterial hand sanitizer
Razors and shaving cream
All purpose cleaners
Toilet paper and paper towels
Plastic and paper bags