Skip to main content
Our Illinois 4-H Story

5 actions youth can take to fight food insecurity this winter

Food insecurity, or the lack of consistent access to affordable and nutritious food affects roughly 10% of the people of Illinois. The lack of reliable food sources is extremely damaging to families and individuals. The winter months can be especially hard for families battling food insecurity. Snow days can interrupt school, which many families rely on to feed their children lunch. Additionally, the many challenges of winter weather can make access to food more difficult. It may seem that this problem is too large to be affected by personal actions, but in truth, small decisions can make a world of difference. Here are five ways youth can combat food insecurity in Illinois this winter. 

Donate to Local Food Pantries

Food pantries are a valuable resource to the people they serve. Donating items to a food pantry allows the pantry to serve more people. Make sure to donate items with a long shelf life and high nutritional value this winter. Remember that each item will go to a person in need. A can of soup spreads warmth in more ways than one!

Shop Local

The next step you can take to help with the issue of food insecurity is to make sure to buy ingredients from local stores. By supporting local businesses, one can ensure that they are able to thrive and keep their food prices low. So next time you (or a parent) needs to make a run to the grocer, consider turning away from superstores and towards local Mom-and-Pop shops.


Next, you can volunteer your own skills to fight food insecurity. Volunteering at a food pantry is one of the most impactful actions one can take to ensure that all are fed this winter. Even just a few hours a week can make a difference to the many people who rely on food pantries to feed their families and themselves. Websites like Feeding America can help you find your local food pantry.

Donate Cold Weather Clothing 

Food insecurity is not a standalone issue. As such, it is often linked with economic insecurity. Families that have difficulty procuring reliable streams of nutritious food are also less likely to have the means to buy warm weather gear such as coats, hats and gloves. Paying for heating in the winter may also be difficult. By donating outgrown or purchased winter clothing, you can help to keep people warm. When people are safe from the cold, they are better able to focus on obtaining food. Donate to resale stores like Goodwill and Savers, or directly to people in need through organizations like OneWarmCoat.

Spread the Word

Most people in Illinois are unaware of how big the issue of food insecurity is. One of the greatest actions an individual can take to fight food insecurity is to first educate themselves on the issue, and then share their knowledge. Telling your parents, grandparents, friends (and enemies!) about food insecurity spreads awareness. Motivate them to make a difference, and set a good example by following the other steps listed here. Sharing this article is a great place to start!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Daniel Holmes is a sophomore in high school in Cook County. For the past eight of his sixteen years, Daniel has been a 4-H club member. In this time he has cycled through many different offices within his club, the Creative Clovers. Daniel is eager to work alongside his 4-H peers to fight food insecurity in the state of Illinois.