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Our Illinois 4-H Story

5 ways to practice food advocacy this holiday season

The holiday season is upon us! No matter which holiday you’re celebrating, December is a busy month. Between shopping for your loved ones and preparing those traditional family recipes, you may not have much time to consider that there are easy things you can do to create environmental or social impact in terms of food advocacy this season. To help, the Food Advocacy Team has created a simple list of ways you can continue to practice food advocacy through the holidays.

1.  Reduce Food Waste

Simple measures like labeling your holiday leftovers with the date they were packaged, or making sure you’re only purchasing what you can cook and store can help to reduce food waste on a massive scale. Overall, the average trash produced by American households increases by 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. While this statistic does include the additional waste of gift wrap and holiday decorations, a sizable portion of the increase can be attributed to increased food waste. Do your part to reduce food waste this holiday season!

2.  Collecting donations for food pantries

Are you hosting a holiday gathering this year? Consider asking your guests to bring an item to donate to a local food pantry along with them. At the end of your celebration, you can load up a whole box of goodies to deliver to a local charity. Use resources like Feeding America to find out what items food pantries are most in need of and share these guidelines with your guests. Your celebration will be thoughtful and fun!

3.  Mindful gifting

Consider making a donation to a local charity or food pantry in honor of that one family member you’re never sure what to give. Donations of money, time, or materials are all appreciated by gift recipients and charities alike! Even better, you can choose to support causes that align with the interests of whoever you’re gifting for, allowing this gift to be both thoughtful and impactful.

4. Purchase local ingredients where possible

Though the summer’s farmer's markets have come and gone, plenty of pantry staples, from winter squash to potatoes are still available for purchase from local grocery stores and winter markets. You can get fresh, local produce and support small and local farmers!

5. Consider volunteering at a local food pantry during your break!

Have some spare time on your hands during winter break? Use it to make a change! Food pantries and food banks are always in need of help. Use Find Food IL(Eat. Move. Save. ( to locate pantries and banks near you and contact them to set up a time for you to volunteer!

We hope that you’re able to apply some of these tips this holiday season and beyond as you craft your resolutions for a new year. Best wishes from the IL 4-H Food Advocacy Team for a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season!

Meet the Authors:

Sophia Holmes is the President of the Illinois 4-H Food Advocacy Team. A 4-H member for the past eight years, Sophia is honored to work alongside the IL 4-H Food Advocacy Team to address the universal issue of food insecurity. She is currently a Freshman at Smith College and hails from Cook County.

Peter Metivier is the Vice President of the Illinois 4-H Food Advocacy Team. He is currently a junior in high school and lives in McLean County. Peter strongly believes in the importance of combating food insecurity and appreciates his membership on the Illinois 4-H Food Advocacy Team constantly working toward that goal.