Like Neighbors, an online platform aiming to help people support each other, is launching its first annual 5,000 Meals program to help provide meals to veterans.

National Military Appreciation Month, which is celebrated every May, is a great opportunity to reflect on the courage and sacrifice of our many veterans. Like Neighbors is helping to give back to our servicemembers all month long through their 5,000 Meals program. This program, which was launched this year, provides an easy way for participants to provide meals to servicemembers, veterans, and their families throughout the Washington, D.C. area. The program will provide 5,000 meals total but people inspired by the program can give more to veterans on their own as well.
"5,000 Meals provides a unique opportunity for people throughout the United States to thank our military and their families with just a couple of minutes and a few dollars each," said Judy O'Connor, founder and CEO of Like Neighbors.
"The program creates a very special, memorable experience for both the giver and the recipient," she continued. "With so many of our nation's 20 million veterans and their 5.5 million military caregivers residing in the Washington, D.C., area, sending a delicious, prepared meal is a wonderful way to recognize sacrifices made as well as the personal battles many continue to fight."
[caption id="attachment_9215" align="aligncenter" width="642"]veterans Courtesy of UPS Jobs[/caption] Interested participants can give back in one of two ways. The first way is to send a gift card to someone you know. The gift cards can be bought through the Like Neighbors platform and can be emailed directly to a veteran or servicemember you want to thank. You can also donate a meal to the Fisher House where veterans and their families stay for free while a loved one receives medical treatment at a military or Veteran Affairs hospital. "Fisher House is a home away from home for military families facing very challenging times," said D.C. VAMC Fisher House Manager Stacey Childs. "While lodging is covered during their loved one's treatment, meals aren't provided. Families typically eat in the hospital cafeteria, so a fresh, delicious dinner after a stressful day will be very appreciated."
The gift cards start at $25, and the Fisher House meals start at $15. Like Neighbors has partnered with organizations such as Altimmune, General Dynamics IT and NTVI, a construction company in Virginia to help impact the most military officials. Your donation will go even further because Like Neighbors will donate 20 percent of the proceeds from the 5,000 Meals program to Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, a nonprofit that provides care and support for families and friends who are grieving the loss of a member of the Armed Forces. Unfortunately, hunger is a large issue among veterans, and the Veterans of Foreign War say the problem is only getting worse. According to a study by the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, 27 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan war vets struggle to put food on the table. This is more than double the national rate of 12 percent. The 5,000 Meals program is a great way to help give back to those who have given so much to us. The Department of Veteran Affairs is also ramping up efforts to help with food assistance. All of the department's health-care facilities will ask veterans if they have struggled to afford food. What do you think? How are you appreciating veterans throughout the month of May? Let us know in the comments below!

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