Don't keep all the canned beans to yourself—here's how to donate food, money and supplies to those in need in your community.

Lauren Wicks
March 16, 2020
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While some of us are fortunate enough to continue working from home, be in good health and have enough food to get us through the next two weeks, that's not the case for millions of Americans across the country. We've rounded up several simple ways to support those in need and the responders working to bring relief and recovery in our communities.

We're stronger together, and we will get through these trying times by practicing proper hygiene, social distancing behaviors and healthy habits to the best of our abilities. Here's how to help others do the same:

How to Support COVID-19 Responders

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) is a great place to start if you're looking to support those affected by the new coronavirus. The CDP has established a COVID-19 Response Fund to bring aid to those working tirelessly to bring relief, recovery, preparedness and containment activities in your area.

This fund is specifically dedicated to supporting local nonprofits that work in areas identified as having high numbers of affected individuals and those who are working with the most vulnerable populations. This includes supporting healthcare workers (especially those in public health or low-income settings), quarantined and vulnerable individuals and hygiene-promotion activities. You can find your nearest community foundation on this interactive map to support these nonprofits where you live.

How to Support the Hungry

Feeding America is on a mission to feed the 37 million Americans who go hungry every year. The organization is currently responding to COVID-19 by working with school districts and local government agencies to ensure children will still be able to receive free meals while schools are closed and delivering emergency boxes with 14 days of food and supplies to local food banks.

You can donate money online to support Feeding America's network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries or find your nearest food bank on this interactive map to directly donate food and supplies. While donating those extra cans you purchased in a shopping frenzy this weekend is a great way to help bring aid, donating money allows your local food bank to purchase fresh food and replenish necessary supplies.

It's important to note that most food banks depend on the surplus and donations of grocery stores, so only buying up enough food and supplies to sustain your household for two weeks will allow food retailers to make larger donations.

How to Support Vulnerable Populations

Marco Di Lauro/Stringer

Seeking to help your neighbors is one of the best ways to support vulnerable populations in your community. The CDC says the elderly and those with chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes and cancer have a higher risk of getting very sick from coronavirus. If you are healthy and in a lower-risk group, ask your neighbors if you can pick up their groceries or prescriptions to allow them to practice social distancing. Just make sure you drop off any items at their door and practice proper social-distancing behaviors.

Reaching out to a local nursing home or Meals on Wheels is another great way to directly assist vulnerable populations in your area. Meals on Wheels is working especially hard during this time to provide senior citizens with a two-week supply of shelf-stable meals. You can donate directly online or discover a Meals on Wheels food program in your zip code to help meet a program's immediate needs.

How to Support Small Businesses

Think about the local businesses that you frequent on a given week. Whether it's your favorite coffee shop, wine bar, date-night spot or bakery (or all four if you have the means), make a point to purchase a gift card that you can use as soon as it is safe enough to be a regular patron again. Many of these businesses have now set up online options.

Many businesses are working tirelessly to offer free local delivery or curbside pickup, so you think beyond Friday night takeout. Pick up a loaf of bread at your local bakery instead of a grocery store, coffee beans or grounds from your local coffee shop and other fresh-made staples and produce offered at your favorite establishments. Check your favorite businesses' social media accounts or call them to see what you can do to help them during this period of uncertainty.

Some local businesses have set up GoFundMe pages to support employees who are not able to work during this time. Donations can help with groceries, rent and other essentials many of us who can work from home take for granted.