It’s Memorial Day weekend: the unofficial start of summer. Enter the backyard barbeques, the beloved town parades, the ceremonies to remember those who lost their lives while serving in the armed forces. If you’re feeling inclined to thank a servicemember or veteran for their commitment (we are), here are a few ways anti-hunger advocates like you can take “thank you for your service” to the next level. Plus, why you should.

Feed Our Vets reports that 130,000 veterans are homeless on a given night in America. (One in three people who are homeless is a vet!) And nearly 4 million veterans and their families don’t have enough to eat each month. Some of them visit Worcester County Food Bank’s Partner Agencies – pantries and community meal programs across the region – on a regular basis. For too many servicemembers and their families, discharge doesn’t equal an end to the daily challenges they face. Which is to say, simply saying “thanks” can feel a little hollow.

So, go ahead. Say it. And then show your appreciation.

1) Make a gift – even a small one. Write a check or donate online to support hunger relief in honor of veterans struggling with food insecurity.

2) Assist a vet, a military spouse, or a caregiver you know to land a fair-paying job. Hunger and homelessness are rooted in systemic challenges (think: poverty). If you have a knack for résumé -writing, be a second set of eyes on a friend’s résumé. Look out for job leads. Put in a good word. If you’re in management, review your company’s hiring practices. Join a campaign focused on increasing the minimum wage. (Here’s someone to contact if the fight for fair wages sounds appealing to you! Her name is Martha Assefa. She manages the Worcester Food Policy Council, which – together with advocates from WCFB – is committed to growing participation from Worcester County in the “Fight for $15.”)

3) Volunteer. Ever stood in admiration of the way a servicemember or veteran in your life is (or was) so motivated by love of country that they acted upon it? If you’re feeling passionate about something – say, hunger – move beyond just saying you care to doing something about it. Volunteer! Many of WCFB’s Partner Agencies are volunteer-led and in need of support. Plus, WCFB itself welcomes volunteers. You can learn more here.

4) Campaign, vote, hold your leadership accountable. Help elect leadership committed to the causes you care about the most. Whether your favorites are elected (or not), keep your legislators informed about where you stand on the issues. Connect with others who care about the same things and decide what to do about them. That’s advocacy! Care about ending hunger? Sign up for WCFB’s Advocacy Action Alerts on the bottom of our homepage. We’ll let you know when there’s an e-mail to write or a call to make around policies and programs likely to have an impact on neighbors struggling with hunger.

To all who served, and to those serving now, we see you. We see your commitment to the well-being of others, the way you inspire others to speak up, to act, in support of the causes that matter to them. We thank you. And now that we’ve said it, we promise to let our actions speak for themselves.

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