Five Unexpected Benefits of Volunteering as a Family

November 16, 2018
by Olivia Thoelke

During the holidays, families are in a whirlwind of parties, travel plans, and activities.
While it’s easy to get caught up in this time of year, it’s also a great time to for your family to take advantage of one of the many opportunities to give back to your community.
This year make volunteering a family affair. You know the “feel-good” emotions that come with helping others, but there are even more unexpected ways volunteering will positively affect the whole family:

1. You’ll feel like you have more time
People often feel they are too busy to volunteer. Yet, a surprising finding by the Harvard Business Review saw 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.

2. 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 a boosted self-esteem. Engaging your teen or pre-teen in volunteering can really help during these teen years. These effects aren’t just short-term but have been proved to affect their well-being in the years to come.

3. 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.

4. More time spent with family
Families have a packed calendar during the holiday season. Between finals at school, holiday work parties, and endless hours shopping, it can be difficult to find time spent together. 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.

5. You’ll be happier
While the holidays are without a doubt one of the most enjoyable times of the year, they can also be one of the most stressful! 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 alleviate some of the post-holiday blues.

If you enjoyed reading about how volunteering can benefit your family, now is the time to volunteer with one of our local pantries. Click on our contact button and let us help you get connected to a pantry in your community.

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Hunger’s New Staple

Feeding America’s research brief, Food Banks: Hunger’s New Staple, details the frequency of clients’ visits to food pantries. Drawing on data from Feeding America’s quadrennial Hunger in America 2010 study, findings from this analysis suggest that families are not only visiting pantries to meet temporary, acute food needs – instead, for the majority of people seeking food assistance, pantries are now a part of households’ long term strategies to supplement monthly shortfalls in food. Results of these analyses suggest that families no longer visit “emergency food” sources for temporary relief, but rely on food pantries as a supplemental food source. Seniors, who so often are limited by fixed or no incomes, are shown to be among the most consistent pantry clients.
The analysis for this study involved the use of a pantry frequency question asked of clients surveyed for Hunger in America 2010. The Hunger in America study series is the largest study of domestic charitable food assistance, providing comprehensive and statistically-valid data on the emergency food distribution system and the people Feeding America serves. Food Banks: Hunger’s New Staple draws on data from more than 61,000 client interviews that were completed for Hunger in America 2010.
Key Findings:
Emergency vs. Long-Term Strategy: Emergency food from pantries is no longer being used simply to meet temporary acute food needs. A majority of the clients being served by the Feeding America network (54%) have visited a food pantry in six or more months during the prior year.
Seniors: We find that seniors are disproportionately represented among clients visiting pantries in six or more months during the prior year. Over half (56%) of elderly clients aged 65+ are recurrent clients, meaning they have used a pantry every month within the prior year.
Households that are food secure are more likely to have recurrent clients – those that have used a pantry every month within the prior year – than other types of households. Although we cannot state this relationship to be causal in nature, it is preliminary evidence that food pantry use over longer durations may lower the likelihood of food insecurity.