image via Cartoon Politics

Consider this your annual reminder that poor people are poor the other 11 months of the year,too. It’s nice to have a box of good food for the holidays but there are other times people could use the help.

Most low income and homeless organizations see a major upswing in generosity between Thanksgiving and Christmas. My local food bank,Food Bank of the Southern Tier,says  donations in December account for 30% of their annual total but then drop down to 3.5% in January. Winter in my area (NY) can be pretty harsh, as it is in much of the country. Having to choose between keeping the heat on and buying food is a very real thing. Food banks have been struggling,too, and some can’t fill the needs of every family.

When the winter is over, some families with children face the struggle of having to feed children during summer break and not every area has a free lunch program during those months.

Needless to say, people who are homeless face the added challenge of not freezing to death on the street. During the coldest nights, most shelters fill quickly but that problem aside, some people are turned away from shelters for other reasons (Transgender people are often excluded from shelters. Some shelters also have a policy barring addicts. Other shelters may not allow children at all, or some men’s shelters won’t allow a single father to bring children in. ). Some people feel unsafe in overcrowded shelters or may be trying to stay clean and avoid potentially being around drugs or behaviors that trigger,so will choose to sleep elsewhere.

If you’re inclined to donate to anti-hunger and anti-homeless programs during the holidays, perhaps think about spreading out your donation at other times in the year.

Food banks really like cash donations so they can allocate the funds where they’re needed the most. A cash donation can breakdown like this:

image via Food Bank of the Southern Tier 

If you have extra sleeping bags,blankets, or warm clothes, maybe ask your local homeless org if they are in need.  If you’re active in church or social organization, maybe consider organizing a food drive during that “off season” when food banks and soup kitchens don’t get too much love.