(NAPSI)–In tough economic times, there are ways you can contribute to your community without turning to your wallet. Margaret McKenna, president of the Walmart Foundation, suggests thinking strategically about how you can give back. She offers these tips to help:
• Focus on basic needs. Start by asking yourself, “What are the needs in my community?” According to the USDA, hunger rates in the U.S. are the highest that they have been since 1995, making hunger a major issue across the country. One in six Americans currently faces hunger, and 90 percent of food banks are reporting an increase in first-time clients. Knowing these increased rates, ask yourself, “What can I do to help?”
• Give your extra food. Scan your pantry to see if there are excess items that could be donated to your local food bank. If there is a good deal on canned foods at the grocery store, pick up a few extra cans to donate.
• Give your expertise. Giving your time and talent can be helpful to a charity, especially because lots of organizations are cutting staff to reduce overhead expenses. Find a volunteer opportunity that utilizes your expertise.
• Join with others. Include your kids in community projects. It can enhance a sense of family as well as community unity. Look for organizations that are already making a difference and join their efforts. For example, as the nation’s largest grocer, Walmart associates have made working to combat hunger one of their top charitable-giving priorities. In its last fiscal year, Walmart and Sam’s Club donated more than 127 million pounds of nutritious food including fresh fruits and vegetables to those in need. They fed 93,000 children across the U.S. through a summer feeding program and donated refrigerated trucks to dozens of food banks to increase efficiency. In a new initiative, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have committed $2 billion to help end hunger in the U.S. They will donate 1.1 billion pounds of food and give grants totaling $250 million to support hunger-relief programs through 2015. “We’ve challenged ourselves to look at ways to make a long-lasting impact in communities around the globe by funding programs that address critical needs,” said Margaret McKenna. Walmart will help its U.S. associates and customers find opportunities to support food banks, meal delivery programs and other hunger-relief organizations. “Knowing that the need is great, we are urging people to volunteer or make a donation with a local food bank or hunger relief organization,” said McKenna.