Thanksgiving tradition calls for a feast with loved ones — an ideal many families won't experience while struggling to put food on their tables during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the beginning of the nightmare in March, an estimated 7 million people have enrolled in the federal government's food stamp program (SNAP), according to CBS News — and that number will likely rise as the U.S. continues to see a major spike in COVID-19 cases. (As of Monday, over 12.4 million cases and at least 257,117 deaths have been attributed to the coronavirus in the U.S., according to the New York Times.)
This bleak situation might prevent concerned citizens who are wary of spreading or contracting the deadly virus from volunteering to help feed the hungry in person.
If you've been searching for safe ways to get involved, here are some ideas to get the ball rolling.
1. Feeding America
The country's largest domestic hunger-relief organization, which works to provide those in need with food and end hunger, currently has a network of over 200 food banks throughout the U.S.
If your preference is to stay home, Feeding America has an option to donate food to a local food bank. More information on the process, including what to donate, can be found here.
Another safe way to help the organization is to donate money, as each dollar can provide at least 10 meals to families in need, according to Feeding America's website.
For those looking to help in person at a local food bank or pantry, consider pledging to become a volunteer with Feeding America. Volunteer tasks include helping sort and pack donated food, cooking and serving dinner, assisting families during their visits and delivering meals to the elderly or people with pre-existing health conditions, according to the organization's website.
2. Meals on Wheels America
Meals on Wheels is dedicated to feeding seniors, a group especially vulnerable to COVID-19.
The organization currently has more than 5,000 programs across the country, making it easy to get involved in your area.
One way to help is through their donation page, which allows you to make a one-time gift or a monthly donation. People can also volunteer with Meals on Wheels by offering to safely deliver meals to seniors at their homes.
3. World Central Kitchen
In response to the pandemic, World Central Kitchen (WCK) launched a #ChefsForAmerica initiative, providing COVID-19 food relief to those in need, their website states.
Part of their efforts includes distributing individually packaged, fresh meals to people across the country — including children, families and seniors — who need support or cannot venture outside. They have also partnered with restaurants to provide jobs for staff.
Those interested in helping feed the hungry through WCK can donate through their website or via alternative methods here. People can also volunteer to help out with WCK's emergency food relief through a sign-up form.
4. United Farm Workers
Thanksgiving would be nothing without the efforts of farmers, who tirelessly work day in and day out to provide fresh produce to Americans.
In order to keep up with the constant demand for food output, United Farm Workers has set up a fund to support their union and non-union farmworkers with emergency food, masks and sanitizer.
You can support the farmers here.
5. Ample Harvest
Through Ample Harvest, millions of gardeners across the nation can "help eliminate wasted food, malnutrition and hunger in their own community" by donating their fresh surplus to local food pantries, according to their website.
Currently, the organization has 8,805 food pantries registered across all 50 states. A full list of locations can be found here.
Gardeners who are interested in donating their produce can learn more on their website here. If you are unable to provide food but still want to help, Ample Harvest has a donation form for one-time or monthly cash donations.
Plus, the organization has an option to sponsor a single food pantry listing or multiple food pantry listings.
This story originally appeared on People.com .
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