I hope your weekends went well and you’re ready for Monday. I’m not, but that’s nothing unusual. 🙂
Topic of the NOT is “things related to winter prep/support.” Reminders to do things like check the insulation around your doors – stick-on weatherstripping is like $4 a roll at hardware stores, and it can make a massive difference in draftiness around room with an exterior door. There’s been plenty of places I have lived where the windows and doors had such bad insulation that I’d pick up extra towels at yard sales or goodwill and roll them up to sit on windowsills or on the floor along the doorway.
If you have ceiling fans (which I hope you do, those are my favorite things to make rooms more comfortable) – make sure they’re turning clockwise in winter to pull cool air up and push down the warmer air at the ceiling level.
Also, it’s a been a while since I’ve brought this up, but if you can, please consider regularly donating to food pantries or organizations that distribute food in your communities.
Winter is worse for food insecurity for many families because you have higher utility costs due to the cold weather. So that means less money available for food. Plus right before Christmas, kids are sent home for a few weeks and if they’re getting one or two meals a day at school, that probably won’t be available until classes resume. Snow days also can be a problem for kids having enough to eat.
In general, food pantries can do the most with money donations. They can buy things in bulk for distribution. However, if it’s a smaller group managing it, or something informal like a mutual aid group, actual goods might be preferred. Please keep in mind that things which require other items to make are less useful. For example, the powdered mac and cheese (like Kraft) boxes might be cheaper at the store so you think – oh I can buy 3 of those for 1 box of the liquid mac and cheese (like Velveeta) boxes. But people need milk and butter to make the powdered kind. Or like Hamburger Helper is great if you have meat and sometimes milk. Also I would recommend things like powerbars, kind bars, etc. People who are food insecure typically work, but might not have anything they can take to work to eat on a break/meal. Grab and go things like those pre-packaged peanut butter crackers or protein bars are good options.
Finally, consider poking around and seeing what options are even available to people in your community. For example, where I am, Operation Food Search gives out boxes of food 2 Tuesdays a month, from 10:30am-1pm. You need a car to take your boxes with you. You need to provide an address to prove you live in the area. Both of these are barriers to access for many unhoused folks. Or if you have a job at that time, you’re shit out of luck. We have another local group who hands out boxes on Thursday afternoons at another location from like 3-5pm. Again, you need a car or a way to carry potentially heavy boxes to your home. Salvation Army near me used to have a food pantry where you could show up 1 day a week and get stuff, but again you had to prove you live in the community. They also stopped during covid, so that’s pretty useless now. Turns out there are a few churches in my community that run informal pantries out of the church offices, but (1) you have to be there when the church office is open and (2) you have to know it exists in the first place, since it’s not really advertised.
All of which is to say, yes, options might exist but they’re fucking complicated* and many people can’t access these resources. If you can convince your community to set up a free-standing outdoor food pantry, please do. We set them up at a bus stop shelter (someone donated a few old shelving units), at a pavillion in a park (again, donated old shelving unit) and a few other places. The volume of food that goes through these 5 spots given the size and makeup of my community just shows how much help is needed outside of the other options “available” in the area.
*similarly, unless Missouri and lots of other states suddenly became less assholic about it, WIC benefits are fucking stupidly painful to navigate. The states set limits on things like food packaging size and price. In Missouri, soymilk is covered if you get original plain flavored 8th Continent brand or Walmart brand, but almond, coconut, rice, and cashew milk aren’t covered. WIC will cover eggs, but only if they’re white, large, and sold in the 1 dozen package. And none of those fancy eggs like free-range, organic, or *GASP* brown.