Hungry in America

The Thanksgiving Holiday is just about 9 days away.

I’m so grateful for so many things this year.  I’ve got a good job.  I’m fairly healthy.  I’ve got good friends.

And  I am definitely not hungry.

As the US economy is so unstable at this moment, there are more and more people going hungry throughout America.

This bothers me.  I mean, it is one thing to work with hungry kids in Africa….

And a whole other thing to think about kids in the US, being almost as hungry.  One of my friends teaches at a local elementary school, she tells me that there are several kids in her class that do not concentrate well, and after some investigation, she has discovered it is because they are simply hungry most of the time. It is distressing to know that kids are going without proper nutrition in my community,  as the kids are really our future teachers,Doctors,lawyers,government officials.  I would like them every day in their seats primed up to learn.

Feeding America  is an organization that works to help bridge the hunger gap.  There are great statistics on the site that help explain what is going on with hunger in America.  I was particularly struck with one statistic.   10% of the households depending on food aid are considered homeless.  ONLY 10%.    So when we donate to the food bank, most of the food is not going to homeless people.  Many people I know are hesitant to donate to the food bank stating that it only goes to the homeless who are somehow degenerate.  And no doubt, many homeless people are addicted to alcohol and or drugs.

But when you consider out of 100% of the people served by  food banks, only 10% are homeless….it seems that it’s a silly reason not to donate some food.

In November, it tends to be pretty easy.  So far, I have encountered food bins at Both Publix and Winn Dixie, at work, and at my gym, and in the front office of my apartment building.  I imagine it’s the same anywhere across the U.S.  in November.

But what to donate?  I was inspired by a goal on 43things, a goal setting website (check it out, very very motivating!).  This goal was “Give the Homeless food they would actually like to eat”.   So many time you look at the donations in bins and see cans and cans of beans and corn only.  So what’s the best stuff to donate?

Firstly…I would say if all you want to donate is corn and beans, go ahead and give them.  People do need beans and corn.

But if you are sort of not sure what to give, I suggest a few things.

High protein items: peanut butter,canned tuna, canned chicken.

Kid friendly items: mac and cheese mix, spaghettios, cereals, snack packs for lunches

Sugar free items.

Baby food

And if you are feeling festive: fun items like coffee.

This year I started to shop the sales early  and here is what I accumulated for the food banks.

  I decided a long time ago to always  try to donate at least one brick of coffee.  I find it very hard to start my day without coffee.  I imagine though if I was trying to feed my family it would be one of the first things to go.

It’s a bit hard to see what’s all there but I pretty much hit all the buy one get one free sales so people will be getting all sorts of items from me this year.

Coffee, BBQ sauce, peaches,spaghettios, spaghetti and sauce, pie filling, mashed potato mix, Pasta Sides, baby foods, kid friendly soup, etc etc.

Though I do not usually buy bunches of canned veggies, I am still pretty cheap.  I think for food banks those microwaveable cups of mac and cheese, soup, and spaghettios are greats as several children in the hunger group will come home to empty houses as their parents will be still at work.  I can’t however, stand the price.  So I compromise and try to make sure what I buy has lids like this.

At least it is pretty easy to remove the lid.

I hope  those of you who are able will consider dropping off at least one extra can of something for the local food bank.  After the holidays, the hunger need will pretty much be forgotten by most of us, but the food banks will still be operating.



9 thoughts on “Hungry in America

  1. Before you donate your food-stuff check the expiration date. It doesn’t do anyone any good if you donate a couple of cans of whatever have been sitting in your pantry for who know how long and they are out of date. Those cans will jut get tossed.

    Great ideas, thank you.

    • super comment! Indeed, check out the expiration date. This is also true when you find the too good to believe sales. Sometimes the expiry date is just days away…even though food banks go through food pretty fast…well, they don’t go that fast.

  2. I regularly sneak a bag of canned goods from my parents’ overly-abundant pantry to the local food shelf. They won’t miss a can or two of soup or green beans, though if Dad catches me he howls I’m trying to starve the family, lol. But coffee sounds like a good idea: I know I’d appreciate it if I had to go to a food shelf to supplement my kitchen. I was also told to bring disposable diapers and formula if I could—they’re a little pricey, but there’s a real need from families with babies for that sort of thing.

    (I can’t imagine raising children in this economic climate. The stories I hear about mothers feeding their kids and not having anything left for themselves break my heart.)

    Also, now that the holidays are coming up, the food shelf has started asking for seasonal things—cranberry sauce, scalloped potato mix, even candy canes and chocolate Santas. The staff is really good about making sure those get to the right people, and the glow you feel afterwards is priceless.

  3. Wow I never even really thought about Candy Canes. I usually try to donate a box or two of brownie mix, but this year I kind of skidded on that.
    I always feel like if we can meet many of the basic food needs then a family might be able to afford the baby formula and such, those are really really pricey items!

  4. S says:

    Such good points.
    One of the points they brought up at the Oxfam event was how many people are a paycheck away from relying on foodbanks. One emergency or extra expense.

  5. Just wanted to add a quick word since Cimmy and I have used food banks in the past, ourselves, and also were technically homeless for a short time, when Princess was very young. (We are on disability, and food stamps.)

    These are all GREAT suggestions, and very pertinent since I open up my local newspaper and read over and over again that the local food banks are coming up short. I don’t doubt that it is similar elsewhere. I ask that one thing be added to your list, though: if one is a gardener… please consider donating excess harvest to the food bank. Yes, they are quite perishable by comparison, but they are rather rare at these food banks. Something simple like potatoes, onions, or zucchini. You’re probably aware all sort of gardeners are trying to get rid of zucchini, or just about any sort of summer or winter squash, for that matter.

    • This is a great suggestion. It requires a little more effort than throwing a can in the bin at work, or at the grocery store, but what a great way to share with others a love of gardening and some fresh food. They say a lot of people do not buy fresh foods because of the expense involved, and I can imagine fresh zucchini would really be a great find.
      When I lived in NC, one of my neighbours was a big gardener, and invited me to pick from the garden anytime, best summer of my life for eating!

  6. DC schools have free meal programs for the students – which carry into summer programs at some libraries when the schools shut – and last year they started giving dinner to students in nearly 100 schools. Many children in DC not eat without these programs. This is also one reason DC is reluctant to shut down on “snow days” as that would mean no meals for the children that day.

    Our Thanksgiving baskets from work have just been delivered to a couple of charities we support. People were wonderfully generous.

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