via Bustle, by Meghan DeMaria, November 26, 2015

If the Thanksgiving season has you thinking about giving back to the community, that’s great! Many local food programs may be looking for extra volunteers on Thanksgiving Day. But plenty of food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens — which are now more commonly known as meal programs — need help year-round. If you’re passionate about feeding those in need, there are probably volunteer opportunities in your own community that’s sure to fit your interests. But what, exactly, are the differences between food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens? I’ll break it down so you know all of your volunteer options.

As Time notes, meal programs are often most overwhelmed with volunteers during the holiday season, especially the week of Thanksgiving. When these programs prepare meals for the holiday, the staff might not have time to train extra volunteers who aren’t familiar with the location’s policies. That’s not to say you shouldn’t pitch in during Turkey Week, but if you can, volunteering in the off-season, like during smaller holidays, could be an ideal way to use your vacation days for good.

The truth is that millions of Americans suffer from food shortages every day, and there are plenty of ways you can help those in need in your community all year long. Whether you hold a local food drive, volunteer to pack bags at a food pantry, or offer your culinary skills to prepare hot meals at a meal program site, plenty of people would appreciate your generosity, no matter what season it is.

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