Re-thinking Holiday Giving

We are entering the holiday season and everything that comes with it- traditions, family gatherings, special worship services, and the biggest season of giving of the year. Recently our Good Food Team partnered with the Congregation Connections Team to host a Lunch ‘n Learn, focusing in on Understanding Food Access and what that looks like this time of year in particular.

Historically our charitable food system has perpetuated many inequities in black and brown communities through programs, acts of “kindness”, and holiday giving (for example, food and toy drives). The intent has been good, but these activities detract from opportunities to focus and invest in root causes of poverty and food insecurity. Many of these actions are not built upon assets that neighbors have, but rather make assumptions of what community members need. We have to ask ourselves, is this charitable act going to create sustainable change for community members? Or is it serving my own self interest by making me feel good?

There are already leaders in the communities we work, live, and play. As nonprofit institutions/churches it is our job to invest in the assets from individuals that already exist not recreate or instill our own ways as institutions. Transactional and reactionary giving, such as Holiday Giving, is not working towards solutions to poverty alongside the neighbors in the communities.

So, what can we do? Instead of traditional holiday giving think creatively about how to build long-term sustainable support. Recognize that the barriers for those in poverty don’t just exist around the holiday season. Major institutional change is needed to solve these problems.

Examples of action steps:

  • Create a budget line for monetary investment in local farms, local organizations, community support.
  • Participate in social justice, antiracism, food justice, or poverty education training.
  • Volunteer your time directly to organizations and smaller non-profits.
  • Purchase your holiday gifts from local businesses owned by People of Color.
  • Purchase your holiday food from local small businesses and farmers.

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