Host a healthy summer food drive

In the summer months, the top things on many Sheboyganites’ minds are following the scent trail to the nearest brat fry, planning a day on North Beach and spending nights beside a bonfire pit. Far from many people’s thoughts are spending hours in the kitchen baking grandma’s recipe of her famous sugar cookies to warm the hearts of loved ones. Even joining the crowds at Deer Trace on Nov. 26 to stock up on Christmas gifts seems like light years away.

During the holiday season, in November and December each year, Sheboygan County Food Bank, Sheboygan’s leading non-profit anti-hunger organization, receives tens of thousands of pounds of food during Making Spirits Bright’s holiday light display in Evergreen Park.

Sheboygan County Food Bank purchases, accepts and safely stores food. The organization then works swiftly to deliver food to partner agencies, at no cost, so that food can get into the hands of our neighbors that need it most.

Making Spirits Bright is free of charge. In lieu of an admission fee, visitors are encouraged to generously donate much-needed food items for families in need. The Food Bank relies heavily on community organized food drives, like Making Spirits Bright – which also happens to be its biggest annual food drive.

By summer time, much of the supply from Making Spirits Bright has been distributed to pantries and other low-income meal programs. What if the same holiday cheer found during the holiday season is stretched to make a difference in our community when supply is low and it is needed most?

According to Feeding America, nearly 5,000 kids in Sheboygan County are food insecure. Food insecurity is a fancy term to report hunger. The United States Department of Agriculture breaks the term further into two levels: low food security and very low food security. Low food security has reports of reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet. On the other hand, very low food security has reports of multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.

While many of us are focusing on our next summer activity, there are Sheboygan families that are struggling to put food on the table.

Here is where you can step in: consider hosting a healthy summer food drive to ensure a high supply of quality food year round. Food drives can be standalone events, or go along with another activity, and can be hosted by companies, or one or more private individuals.

Recently, employees of Sheboygan County Food Bank and members of the Sheboygan Activity and Nutrition Committee (SCAN) came together to create the Sheboygan County Food Drive 5 Toolkit. With permission, the Toolkit was adapted from Brown County as a resource to assist individuals, businesses, agencies, churches, schools and other organizations in promoting their food drives and healthy food donations. It provides informational posters, ideas for promoting on social media and community- based statistics.

The Toolkit, food drive sign up form and other helpful resources can be found at www.sheboygancountyfoodbank .com/host-a-food-drive.

Lauren Smith is the communications and development coordinator at the Sheboygan County Food Bank.