As we transition into Fall and the first frosts sneak up on Western New York, we start to think more about shelter and protection from the elements for our homeless residents. However, we have to consider the impact of accessibility to hot meals for poor and homeless people year-round. At Hearts for the Homeless, we know the importance of providing nutritious, prepared food to those less fortunate throughout each of the four seasons, which is why we’re serving through our Mobile Soup Kitchen year-round.
So why should we prioritize these hot meals and go beyond food pantries or handing out care packages? Ultimately, the answer comes down to sustenance and safety.
People suffering from food insecurity struggle especially with sourcing healthy, fresh foods that provide essential nutrients. When considering the food that is easily sourced or provided, such as canned goods, snacks, or even nutrition bars, we have to acknowledge the disparity in nutritious value compared with prepared foods that often provide a better balance of fruits, vegetables, healthy grains, and protein. Foods that are often more easily accessible include large amounts of salt and sugar for taste, fat to increase calorie density, and preservatives that help keep these foods shelf-stable. It’s easy to see why a lack of accessibility leads to health problems such as weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease in those struggling with food insecurity.
Another reason we should focus on providing warm, nutritious meals for our most vulnerable is to help ensure food safety. At the core, finding safe food is a struggle. Not only is it difficult to find traditionally healthy food, it’s often impossible for food-insecure individuals to verify that the food they find is clean, or even sufficiently cooked depending on the source. As most do not have means of keeping food at the right temperature or heating up foods appropriately, foodborne illnesses are always a possibility.
Our mobile soup kitchen is not only providing nutrition but peace of mind to those less fortunate. We know this work is essential to helping the poor and homeless and could not do it without our community. Your donations help us to continue our services, and our dedicated volunteers are preparing and serving these important meals to over 13,000+ people every year. September 21st is National Volunteer Day, apply today to join our amazing team helping to make a difference in Buffalo today.