Nonprofit organizations operate for a social or environmental purpose rather than for profit. They are often driven by a mission to address a specific problem or need in society, such as poverty, hunger, education, health, human rights, animal welfare, arts, culture, and more. Nonprofits rely on various funding sources, such as donations, grants, fees, and sales, to carry out their activities and programs. However, nonprofits often face financial challenges and difficulties in sustaining their operations, especially in times of crisis or uncertainty. Therefore, they need the support and involvement of individuals, communities, and corporations to achieve their goals and make a positive impact.
Nonprofits have a long and rich history in the United States, dating back to the colonial era, when religious groups, civic associations, and mutual aid societies were formed to provide social services and promote public welfare. Today, more than 1.5 million nonprofits are registered in the U.S., according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics. These nonprofits vary in size, scope, and sector, but they all share a common vision of creating a better world for everyone.
If you are looking for ways to give back and make a difference in your community, you might wonder how to find and support local nonprofits near you. There are many benefits of supporting local nonprofits, such as:
You can see the direct impact of your donation or involvement in your community.
You can learn more about the issues and needs affecting your area and the people there.
You can connect with other like-minded people who share your values and passions.
You can discover new opportunities for personal and professional growth and development.
There are many ways to find and support local nonprofits near you, such as:
Searching online for nonprofits that match your interests and preferences. You can use keywords such as “nonprofit near me,” “local charities,” “nonprofit organizations list”, or “nonprofit organizations” to narrow down your search. You can also use online platforms and directories, such as Charity Navigator, GuideStar, or GreatNonprofits, to find and compare nonprofits based on their ratings, reviews, financial information, and impact reports.
Visiting the websites and social media pages of the nonprofits that interest you. You can learn more about their mission, vision, values, programs, activities, achievements, and challenges. You can also sign up for their newsletters, follow their updates, and contact them for more information or inquiries.
Donate money to the nonprofits that you want to support. Depending on your budget and preference, you can make a one-time or recurring donation. You can also use online platforms and tools, such as GoFundMe, PayPal Giving Fund, or Facebook Fundraisers, to donate money to nonprofits easily and securely. You can also check if your employer offers a matching gift program, which can double or triple the impact of your donation.
Volunteering your time and skills to the nonprofits that you want to help. You can find volunteer opportunities that suit your availability, interests, and abilities. You can also use online platforms and tools like VolunteerMatch, Idealist, or All for Good to find and apply for volunteer opportunities near you. You can also check if your employer offers a volunteer grant program, which can provide financial support to the nonprofits where you volunteer.
Participating in events and campaigns organized by the nonprofits you want to join. You can attend or host events, such as fundraisers, galas, auctions, walks, runs, or bike rides, that raise awareness and funds for the nonprofits and their causes. You can also join or start campaigns, such as Giving Tuesday - Big Day of Giving 2023, that mobilize people and resources for nonprofits and their causes.
One of the most pressing and prevalent issues affecting many U.S. communities is hunger. According to Feeding America, more than 42 million people, including 13 million children, faced food insecurity in 2020, meaning they did not have consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. Hunger has many negative consequences for individuals and society, such as poor health, lower academic performance, reduced productivity, and increased poverty.
Los Angeles is one of the cities that struggles with hunger and food insecurity. According to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, more than 2 million people in Los Angeles County are food insecure, and more than 1.4 million people rely on the food bank’s network of partner agencies and programs to access food. In 2022, the food bank distributed more than 88 million meals to people in need.
There are many nonprofits in Los Angeles that fight hunger and food insecurity, such as:
Food Forward rescues fresh, surplus produce from farmers markets, wholesale markets, orchards, and backyard trees and donates it to hunger relief agencies across Southern California.
Project Angel Food prepares and delivers medically tailored meals to people living with critical illnesses, such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, kidney failure, and diabetes, in Los Angeles County.
Meals on Wheels West delivers nutritious meals, friendly visits, and safety checks to seniors, veterans, disabled adults, and chronically ill in West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, and Topanga.
FoodCycle LA collects excess food from restaurants, caterers, grocery stores, and other food donors and delivers it to shelters, transitional homes, and food pantries in Los Angeles.
However, hunger and food insecurity affect not only the general population but also a specific and often overlooked group: college students. According to the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, more than one-third of college students experienced food insecurity in 2020, meaning that they had limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or the ability to acquire such foods in a socially acceptable manner. Food insecurity among college students can have serious implications for their physical and mental health, academic performance, retention, and graduation.
College student food insecurity is a widespread and complex problem that requires a comprehensive and collaborative solution. Many factors contribute to college student food insecurity, such as:
The rising costs of tuition, fees, books, housing, transportation, and other expenses can leave little or no money for food.
The lack of adequate financial aid, scholarships, grants, or loans can limit the ability to pay for education and living expenses.
The limited availability or accessibility of on-campus or off-campus food resources, such as dining halls, food pantries, farmers markets, or grocery stores, can make obtaining food difficult.
The stigma or shame associated with food insecurity can also prevent students from seeking or accepting help or support.
There are many initiatives and programs that aim to address and alleviate college student food insecurity, such as:
College and university food pantries provide free or low-cost food to students in need. There are more than 700 college and university food pantries in the U.S., according to the College and University Food Bank Alliance.
SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) provides monthly benefits to eligible low-income individuals and families to buy food. More than 3 million college students may be eligible for SNAP, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The Campus Kitchens Project empowers students to recover excess food from on-campus or off-campus sources and prepare and deliver meals to people in need in their communities.
One of the most innovative and impactful nonprofits that tackle college student food insecurity in Los Angeles is Student LunchBox (SLB). SLB is a nonprofit organization committed to fighting food insecurity among college students. SLB was established in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact, which led to the sudden closure of institutions, including colleges and universities, resulting in job losses, financial hardships, and increased food insecurity among students.
Through its exceptional collaborations with numerous organizations and businesses in Los Angeles, SLB has established itself as a prominent and influential force in combating campus hunger. Its impactful partnerships enable it to serve an average of 6,000 students monthly, providing them with essential nourishment and support. What sets it apart from other agencies is its extensive reach, as it extends its services to students attending institutions spanning from San Fernando Valley to Long Beach, including California State University Long Beach, California State University Dominguez Hills, Long Beach City College, California State University Los Angeles, California State University Northridge, Los Angeles Pierce College, NYU Los Angeles, Los Angeles Valley College, CBD College, and the University of Texas Los Angeles.
The demand for Student LunchBox’s services has been overwhelming, as additional partnership requests are being waitlisted. This demonstrates its indispensable role in meeting the critical needs of college students and underscores the strength and importance of its organization within the community. With each partnership, SLB strengthens its ability to significantly impact students’ lives, ensuring their well-being, academic success, and brighter futures. Its unwavering commitment is to address these challenges, ensuring that no student is forced to make the heartbreaking choice between education and food.
If the work of SLB inspires you and you want to support its mission, you can do so in various ways, such as:
Donating money to SLB through its website allows you to make a one-time or recurring donation or to sponsor a specific program or event.
You can also donate food directly to SLB by contacting them and arranging a drop-off or pick-up.
Volunteering with SLB by joining its team of dedicated and passionate volunteers who help with various tasks, such as packing, sorting, delivering, distributing food, and organizing and participating in events and campaigns. You can sign up for volunteer opportunities through its website or contact them for more information.
Partner with SLB by becoming a corporate sponsor, a community partner, or a campus partner, depending on your affiliation and interest. You can support SLB by providing financial or in-kind donations, offering discounts or services, hosting food drives or fundraisers, spreading the word, raising awareness, and more. You can contact SLB to discuss the details and benefits of partnering with them.
By supporting SLB, you are helping to feed hungry students and empower them to achieve their academic and personal goals. You also contribute to the overall well-being and prosperity of your community and society. You are making a difference.
Nonprofits are more than just organizations that provide services or programs. They are also agents of change that transform lives and communities. They are also expressions of compassion and generosity that unite and inspire people. Whether you are looking for ways to give back this Giving Tuesday or any other day of the year, you can find and support local nonprofits near you that match your passions and values.
This Blog was Prepared by Student LunchBox:
Student LunchBox (SLB) is a nonprofit charitable organization committed to fighting food insecurity among college students. Established in 2020, SLB emerged with a clear mission to eradicate campus hunger and foster academic success. At Student LunchBox, our vision is to create a future where every college student has access to nutritious food, empowering them to thrive academically, achieve their full potential, and succeed in their educational journey.