5 Unexpected Benefits of Volunteering as a Family

Are you looking for a way to bring your family together? Hoping to find a hobby that can be shared by both the little ones and adults? Volunteering as a family may be just the thing you need. You may know the “feel-good” emotions that come with helping others, but there are even more unexpected ways volunteering will positively affect the whole family: 

  • You’ll feel like you have more time 

People often feel they are too busy to volunteer. Yet, the Harvard Business Review found that giving your time to community causes actually makes you feel like you have more of it. Volunteering makes us feel capable and efficient, inspiring us to make the most of each day.

  • Volunteering has a life-long effect on kids and teenagers 

Volunteering during adolescence has been linked to some major positive effects such as improved grades, reduced drug usage, and  increased self-esteem. These effects aren’t just short-term but have been proved to affect a teen’s well-being in the years to come.   

  • You can live longer if you volunteer regularly  

For adults, volunteering can provide significant physical health benefits. Washington University found that for adults 55 and older who volunteered had better stamina, memory, and maintained overall health longer than others their age. Volunteers are also more likely to look after their own health and are more focused on adding physical activity into their lives.   

  • More time spent with family 

Families who volunteer together have the unique experience of working toward a shared goal. You may even learn that your child has a talent or interest you didn’t know about before. Everyone brings something unique to the table and can connect with each other and the community in a new way. And, there are tasks for every age and ability so all your children, whether eight or 18, can feel proud of their work. 

  • You’ll be happier 

The University of Texas found in a 2003 study that becoming involved in helping your community lowers rates of depression and anxiety. By volunteering, the entire family can benefit from bettering their mental wellness and alleviating stress. 

Save Our Planet and Reduce Food Insecurity … All at the Same Time!

Data show that 1/3 of all food waste is caused by individuals when they eat out or eat at home. Growing and raising food is a very energy and water-intensive project, and discarded food creates greenhouse gases harmful to our environment. Here’s how you can help:

Restaurants

When you sit down, think about the whole meal before you order. Will you want dessert (ask for the dessert menu ahead of time!) And appetizers? And entrees? You can “right-size” your meal. Maybe your party of two orders appetizers, a side vegetable, and a dessert to split. If you are going with a larger group, consider ordering one fewer entree than people.

If you do take food home and eat it for lunch in a day or two (or freeze it and eat it later), then good for you! But how many doggie bags sit in the fridge until it’s time to throw them out?

At Home

The other great place to save is at the grocery store. Here are a few ways you can reduce waste and save money:

  • Always make a list before you go shopping – that way, you won’t buy food duplicates *and* you will probably spend less money
  • Store your food properly. Keep your fridge at 40 degrees F or lower.
  • Serve and eat the most perishable food in the days right after a shopping trip.
  • Not all perishables are created equal. Apples and oranges keep longer than bananas and avocados, especially in hot weather, so go to the supermarket often or buy some of the sturdier perishables as well as the more delicate fruits and veggies.
  • Be sure to buy foods that are stored in different ways. If everything you buy is meant for the fridge, your supermarket haul will probably expire faster than it would if you had also purchased shelf-stable items (pasta, nuts, beans) and direct-to-freezer foods.
  • Moldy food might not be all bad. You can cut mold off of hard cheese and eat the rest.
  • Make a commitment to eating up your leftovers (maybe you have a weekly Leftover Night.) Or, freeze them immediately in meal-sized containers. If you find yourself dumping them six months later, scale back the amounts you prepare.

A Different Kind of New Year Resolution

Each new year, people worldwide are filled with a newfound optimism in their ability to do better. We see it every January and February – we make resolutions centered around things like losing weight, kicking old habits and taking up new hobbies.

As we come to the end of 2022, many of us are taking time to consider our resolutions with all the good intentions of the new year. No doubt, the typical resolutions of weight loss and healthy eating are great forms of self-improvement. They are full of merit, and it is important for us to take care of our own personal well-being.

However, perhaps this year we can also incorporate resolutions that give back to our community as a whole. Here are three different kinds of resolutions you can make this year to help our neighbors thrive.

1. Teach Our Children about Giving Back

Involve your children in your plans to give back. Organize a community food drive, spend the morning volunteering at our warehouse, or even read them the classic tale of Stone Soup – there are many age-appropriate ways to introduce children of all ages to the concept of kōkua. 

Resolution: I will volunteer at a Northern Illinois Food Bank opportunity this year that my whole family can attend!

2. Share Social Media Posts

A big part of our mission involves keeping our community up-to-date on things like food distributions, volunteer opportunities and emergency preparedness. Tag, like, share, follow – just one click or tap can go a long way in helping our neighbors thrive. #ActionMattersMost #NeighborsEmpowered

Resolution: I will follow Northern Illinois Food Bank and share content to show what I stand for!

3. Join the Mission to Help Our Neighbors Thrive

For many of our donors, recurring gifts are a practical and convenient way to give back. These gifts allow us to focus our resources more on programs and less on raising necessary funds. Just $1 can help provide $8 worth of groceries.

Resolution: I will make my donation a recurring one to Help Our Neighbors Thrive.