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Ways to Share A Meal in Your Community

This weekend we were busy getting into the spirit of the season. Yes, this involved shopping. No, not the kind you think. This month Momtrends is focused on giving. All kinds of giving. We're kicking off the theme talking about giving back to your community.

Stock your Food pantry

We talked about the #ProjectSunlight campaign we're participating in with Unilever. Now it's time to show you how our family shared a meal. As a part of ProjectSunlight, the girls and I thought of two ways we can SHARE A MEAL with those in our community dealing with food insecurity and hunger. There are 16 million children struggling with hunger; our little hamlet in NW Connecticut where we spend weekends is not immune.

This number in need can seem insurmountable. Rather than talk to the girls about the huge impersonal concept, I prefer to think small and act local. I say: start giving in your community and the "ripple effect" can come to life.

For us, giving back started with our normal trip to the grocery store on Saturday. Like you, I have long list and many meals to plan. Lucky for me, having enough money to buy all the food we need and want is not an issue. Each week, we try to add extra items on our list to donate to our local food pantry. A volunteer in our community sends me an update on which shelves are bare in the pantry. I add a few items to my list for Sunday drop off. . Here's a sample of the sign-up list:

food pantry sign up

Adding a few extras to your shopping cart is a pretty doable goal for most us us. Once I know what's need I look for sales and coupons and then shop smart. It turns out cereals, coffee, shampoo and toilet paper are often in need. I usually see 2 for 1 specials for these items that cannot be purchased with food stamps.

shop for your local food pantry

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If you don't have a local food bank, you can click over to Feeding America here to see a list of food banks here. The Feeding America nationwide network of food banks secures and distributes more than 3 billion meals each year to communities throughout the United States.

Here's a little more information on our local food pantry. It's all organized by volunteers and predominantly it serves families. As you can see it's a small little space that has a BIG impact. The space is clean, tidy and tended to with love. My family feels a personal connection to contributing to this space and this community.

This weekend we helped in an extra-special way. The girls were set to join in a huge group baking session on Sunday. The head of our church school (a UCC church in CT) was organizing a holiday bake sale. Rather than ask the already busy moms to bake, she whipped the kids into teams and assigned them to baking stations.

bake sale for those in need

The parents purchased the baking supplies, the kids did the work. This particular grocery list had yet another extra item--baking soda. Together our little church made dozens of yummy bread loaves. Next weekend the kids will sell the bread to the congregation to raise money. The money raised will go towards buying a local family food for a special Thanksgiving meal.

My girls couldn't have been prouder of their contributions. These small people feel empowered that their efforts are creating change.

To find out more about how you and your family can give help head to to download the Unilever Share A Meal Toolkit.

Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Food, Home and Personal Care products with sales in more than 190 countries.

Momtrends is being sponsored by Unilever to bring awareness to the issue of hunger in America. All language and opinions are our own.*$1 helps provide 9 meals secured by Feeding America on behalf of local food banks. $0.111 from each qualifying coupon redemption will be donated to Feeding America. Unilever guarantees a minimum donation of $150,000 and a maximum donation of $200,000 from 11/16/14 to 11/30/14 date through the redemption of each coupon. Meal claims valid as of 5/29/14 through 12/31/14. Limit 1 per person, per household.

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