The Pulse

Volunteering: A New Year’s Resolution That Checks All the Boxes

When Americans give back, they get more than good vibes in return

Research by Second Harvest Heartland shows 76% of people surveyed say volunteering makes them feel physically healthier and reduces stress, which in turn may help reduce risk of heart disease, stroke, depression and anxiety.

MINNEAPOLIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Be healthier. Connect with more people. Spend your time in more meaningful ways. At this time of year, millions of Americans set similar goals to improve their physical health, social lives and personal self-care. Yet research shows that fewer than 10 percent of Americans keep their New Year’s resolutions, often because of the effort required.

Now Second Harvest Heartland, one of the nation’s largest hunger-relief organizations, is inviting Minnesotans to make it easier on themselves this year by choosing just one resolution: volunteering. Picking a cause and getting out to volunteer turns out to be the one single, achievable, sustainable and widely beneficial resolution for the New Year that checks off so many of the top resolutions on everyone’s lists.

In addition to helping others, studies show that volunteering can benefit the volunteer in many ways, including:

  • 96% report feeling a greater sense of purpose when they volunteer
  • 94% of people who volunteer report that it improves their mood
  • 76% say volunteering makes them feel physically healthier and reduces stress, which in turn may help reduce risk of heart disease, stroke, depression and anxiety

“Our volunteers give their time to help others, and rarely ever think about how it can impact their own lives in so many ways,” said Julie Greene, director of volunteer engagement at Second Harvest Heartland. “Of course, they feel a tremendous sense of satisfaction knowing their contributions are making a difference in people’s lives, but the benefits of their actions go way beyond that. Given the camaraderie people feel by coming together and the satisfaction of working on a common goal, I’m not surprised at all that research has proven the benefits of volunteering—we see it every day with the smiles on our volunteers’ faces.”

What A Difference An Hour A Month Makes

According to Second Harvest Heartland, more than 813,000 people—one in six neighbors—reached out for food assistance last year amid a rise in food insecurity due to inflation and pandemic-era financial relief programs ending. Now more than ever, food banks need support to manage the increase in demand. Yet while many people volunteer their time around the holidays, there is a steep decline in numbers in January.

“The holidays are a joyful time of giving and people become more conscious about those in need, which is wonderful,” added Greene. “But after the holiday season, people get busy with their work again, as well as everything going on in their lives, so it can be difficult to find time to volunteer. But if everyone who volunteered during the holidays committed to just one hour a month throughout the year, the impact would be incredible—for our communities, for our neighbors and for them.”

To learn more about volunteering at Second Harvest Heartland visit, or for volunteer opportunities with other non-profit organizations visit




About Second Harvest Heartland
At Second Harvest Heartland, we work to end hunger together. As one of the largest, most efficient, and most innovative hunger-relief organizations in the nation, we leverage our unique position in the emergency food chain to make an impact. In close partnership with a network of food shelves and partner programs, we support those in our region facing hunger today.
More than a food bank, we’re a leading partner in the policies and programs that work to end hunger, like SNAP, school meals and senior nutrition programs, and we’re an innovator in the areas where food can be the solution, like FOODRx and Minnesota Central Kitchen. Learn more at