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Give thanks by giving food and nutrition

December 19, 2007|By LYNN LITTLE

The holidays are a time for generosity, and gifts of food are always welcome by those in need. These gifts can shift the focus from holiday overeating to sharing with those who might not have enough to eat.

There are many ways to give nourishing gifts of food. There are gifts to fit every wish list and every pocketbook. There are ways to give close to home and ways to give far away. There are ways that require cash and ways that only require time and caring. Here are a few ideas for food and nutrition gifts this holiday season.

· Local charities are always in need of donations. It is important to remember local food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens with donations of money, food and/or time.

If your ability to give monetarily is limited, you can use your enthusiasm to motivate others to maximize their gifts. Join an existing food drive at work, church or with a community group. Challenge your family, friends and co-workers to match your personal gifts.

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· The most direct way to make a nutrition contribution is to invite someone to share food with you in your home, in their home or at a restaurant. Consider an invitation to someone who has limited income, limited mobility or limited social contacts.

· Another idea is to adopt a grandparent. Many older people live alone, and their own families might be far away during the holidays. Invite an older person to lunch or visit a local nursing home to socialize with residents during their mealtimes.

· Large national groups support programs that local efforts cannot provide. These organizations need our assistance to coordinate and distribute large corporate donations, to conduct surveys and studies of hunger statistics, and to advocate for effective public policies on hunger, nutrition and food security.

Although giving now is wonderful, need knows no season. Perhaps your most important gift can be the commitment to give throughout 2008.

Lynn Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with University of Maryland Cooperative Extension in Washington County.

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