Millions of people will be inconvenienced by the blizzard hitting the Northeast, but for the most vulnerable populations — such as the elderly, homeless and kids who go hungry — it could have more serious consequences.
Though the storm fell short of predictions, many states along the East Coast enacted states of emergencies and travel bans. And for those who rely on social services to survive, such precautions mean losing access to food and other basic needs.
Here’s how you can help the people most affected by the storm stay warm, healthy and safe.
Feed Low-Income Kids
While most kids would be thrilled to hear that school is closed, the news could trigger anxiety for underserved students since it could mean going without food. According to the USDA, more than 30 million children relied on free- or reduced-priced lunch last year, which means they may not have access to nutritious meals during a snow day.
How to help: Feeding America, a group that helps 12 million underserved children through its network of 200 food banks across the country, will close its New York City locations for the first time ever on Tuesday, but many of its partners there, including the Food Bank for New York City and City Harvest, prepared in advance for the storm. No Kid Hungry works to end child hunger and connects children in need with nutritious meals.
Support the Elderly
One in six Americans over the age of 60 faces the threat of hunger. A blizzard can be particularly precarious for this demographic, since they’re at a high risk for developing hypothermia and frostbite and many struggle to leave the house.
How to help: Meals on Wheels helps 2.5 million seniors and provides clients with “blizzard bags,” filled with non-perishable food items, during massive storms. On a local level, Dorot — a New York-based nonprofit — packed hundreds of bags of food and water supplies for homebound seniors before the blizzard hit. Little Brothers, a nonprofit that operates in a number of U.S. cities, including Philadelphia and Boston, pairs volunteers with seniors who need help getting groceries, rides to appointments and other routine errands.
Help Homeless People Without Shelter
To protect people on the streets from the frigid conditions, cities have eased restrictions on whom to let into shelters and are allowing clients to remain inside during the day, which isn’t usually permitted, the Christian Science Monitor reported.