For the last five years, #GivingTuesday has become a movement to harnesses the potential of social media and the generosity of people around the world to bring about real change in their communities; it provides a platform for them to encourage the donation of time, resources and talents to address local challenges. It also brings together the collective power of a unique blend of partners— nonprofits, civic organizations, businesses and corporations, as well as families and individuals—to encourage and amplify small acts of kindness.

We thought, one of the best ways to get involved is in your own community. Or better yet, feed your community!

Fortunately for some people, Canada runs a great network of food banks. While they do not bring solution to social issues that need change, they provide people with much needed hope and a peace of mind.

What’s good about food banks?

  • They feed people who might otherwise really go without
  • They involve local communities and they reflect a growing capacity in society for compassion
  • They are great places to gather and learn from each other
  • They expose people to cooking from scratch and sharing ideas on how to make delicious meals.
  • They raise awareness about food poverty among people like us
  • They illustrate and bring weight to the broader agenda of social justice

Here are some ways you can help your local food bank

5 Minutes: Donate At The Grocery Store
The next time you go grocery shopping, check to see if the store is collecting any items for local food banks. It takes five minutes to buy something, so why not donate it? If you’re shopping a can of chickpeas, buy two and donate the other. 

Make your donation as nutritious as possible:

  1. Shop for grains: 6-8 servings of grain products are recommended each day from Canada’s Food Guide. Products such as: Oatmeal (regular-no added sugar), Pot barley, Whole grain high-fibre bran cereal, Whole grain pasta or brown rice.
  2. Consider different types of protein:  People living in poverty often struggle to access enough healthy foods, such as protein, and nutritious donations to food banks can go a long way towards increasing these options. Trying buying: Canned salmon or tuna, Peanut or Almond butter (no sugar added), Canned or dry beans (chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans), Nuts (unsalted)
  3. Don’t forget about fruits and vegetables! It can be difficult for food banks to access seasonal produce during this time of year and non-perishable items can supplement hampers such as Canned fruits and vegetables (no added sugar or salt) and Tomato sauce (sodium reduced).

5 Hours: Volunteer At The Food Bank

During the year (especially during the holiday season), food banks need volunteers to sort, manage and give out food. If you have five hours to spare, gather a group of friends or co-workers and head to your local food bank. It’s the time of year when food banks receive large donations and they need help to sort it out.

Why Volunteering is the Best Team Building Exercise:

  1. Helping others is fantastic reason to take a break from the office.
  2. It is a very fun way for corporate teams to bond with each other. People who work well together outside of the office will, in turn, work well together inside the office.
  3. It demonstrates your company’s values. It shows the community that you – and your company – care.

5 Days: Organize A Food Drive or Raise Money

If you have a week off during the holidays, organizing a food drive at your holiday party or even one at the office is a great way to help. Giving people a week gives them enough time to mobilize and collect donations.

Fundraiser and recipe sharing

  1. Consider organizing a holiday-themed fundraiser.  People love enjoying holiday themed goodies or purchasing unique home-made gifts, so you can organize a bake sale or craft sale. You can host a holiday dinner for your friends and family or lunch with your coworkers.
  2. For recipe ideas, check out the Twitter hashtag #recipesthatgive. And, as an added bonus, share your favourite holiday recipes on your social feed using #recipesthatgive and PepsiCo Foods Canada, with its Quaker® brand will donate $10.00 to Food Banks Canada for each recipe shared, to a maximum of $30,000.

Now, for the #recipeoftheweek – one you can share on social media or print for your local food bank – here is our delicious Chili sin Carne

chili-bowl

Chili sin Carne

Inspired by Isa Chandra

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Ingredients:
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced medium
1 green pepper, seeded, diced medium
1 red pepper, seeded, diced medium
1 yellow pepper, seeded, diced medium
2 jalapenos, thinly sliced (optional – seeded, if you want it less spicy)
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 to 4 tbsp. mild chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tablespoon dried (Mexican) oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Several dashes fresh black pepper
1 large carrot, diced medium
2 stacks celery, diced medium
1 cup dried brown lentils
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
2-3 cups water (plus extra as needed)
1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans (or pinto beans), rinsed and drained (15 oz can)
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed and drained (15 oz can)
1 tbsp. pure maple syrup or coconut sugar
2 tbsp. lime juice (for serving)

What to do:

  • Preheat a cooking pot over medium high heat. Add some oil.
  • Sauté the onion, bell peppers and jalapeno (if using) with some salt until onion is translucent.
  • Add the garlic, and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chili powder (if using) oregano, cumin, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika and toss to coat the onions, letting the spices toast a bit (about a minute or so).
  • Add the carrots, celery and lentils and make sure all gets well-coated.
  • Add the 4 cups water and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Cover the pot and turn the heat up to bring to a boil. Let boil for about 20 minutes, stirring every now and again. The lentils should still be firm, but almost tender enough to eat.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, kidney beans and black beans. Cover the pot, and turn heat down to simmer. Let cook for about 30 more minutes, stirring occasionally. The lentils should be quite mushy, almost melting into the chili. You may also need to add more liquid depending on how much the chili has cooked down.
  • Add maple syrup (or coconut sugar), then taste for salt and seasoning. It tastes best if you let it sit for 10 minutes or so. Add lime juice when serving.

 

Sources: Food Banks Canada, #GivingTuesday.org, Huffington Post, CBC News, The Mississauga Food Bank

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