It’s Time To Talk About Food

Every once in a while my big poppa old skool iPod will shuffle to Harry Chapin doing a live version of “Circle.”  If you’re a certain age you remember this as a kind of campfire song where everybody takes a turn singing a verse and then the crowd joins in the chorus, but towards the end of this version (The Gold Medal Collection — Disc 2; released 1988)  Harry does a tremendous little PSA for his World Hunger Year where he reiterates that we all should put our money where our mouths are and start pulling our fair share in this country, regardless of political affiliation or socioeconomic status.  Now he said these words before his death in 1981 but every time I hear them I am awestruck by how pertinent they are today, and how prevalent hunger still is in America in 2012.

I’m lucky:  I’ve never gone to bed hungry, and neither has my family.  I live in an area where I have access to fresh, high-quality foods, and I have the resources and ability to get pretty much anything I want.  This past week I’ve had to do more menu planning than usual so food acquisition has been at the top of my mind.  After the shopping came thoughtful preparation, and the realization that I needed to make all my “food out of food.”   This will sound funny and a bit self-absorbed, but the week also made me realize that food, at its most basic, is just fuel for the body.

That said, one of the greatest pleasures we humans with corporeal bodies can know is food.  Close your eyes and think of the aromas, the textures, the flavors, the anticipation of seeing family and friends gathering together around a favorite meal.  And we cannot deny the emotional quotient ~ how the food experience makes us feel.   The comfort of home-made chicken soup, the intimacy of lovers making a midnight snack together, baking cookies with your kids are all emotional touch points.  Now imagine getting up from your chair now and heading to the ‘fridge or cupboard and finding…..nothing.  I’m not talking about how we whine, “There’s nothing to eat in here.”  I’m talking about BARE cupboards.   The greatest shame of any country is the number of its citizens who don’t have food to eat.  And there are more folks out there going without than we imagine.

According to the USDA 49 million people in this country are (euphemistically called) food insecure.  Think about your state.  Or take it even closer to home, think about your community.  Does your house of worship or community center have a food pantry or run food drives?  Unfortunately, there is a compelling reason why they do: it’s because our neighbors are stopping by to fill the gaps at the end of the month, or when they’ve had an unexpected expense.    If you have an interest, please stop by Feeding America.  They do an excellent job dispelling myths about “food insecurity.”

Please remember, our local agencies need donations all year, not just at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The highest honor my family bestowed on me was making a Mother’s Day donation in my name to a local food bank.  What better way to honor someone who nurtures (in between the nagging parts).  My own little PSA is to remind you that anything you can do at the grass-roots level helps somebody.  That can of tuna or box of pasta is more powerful than you realize.


9 thoughts on “It’s Time To Talk About Food

    1. You are channeling my OG MIL when you do that. When she knew a drive was coming up she’d purposely shop double to make a nice, balanced grocery bag. May her memory be a blessing…

  1. Beautiful. I am often aware of how fortunate I am, as modest as my lifestyle is. I donate to the local Rescue Mission, and whoever the Post Office collects for when they drop off those bags asking for non-perishable foods. One of the most amazing things I’ve been witness to was after doing the Komen Race for the Cure a few years ago, our group went to breakfast/brunch afterwards. There were so many of us, the establishment we were at was overwhelmed and we ended up with an extra order of food. Rather than let it go to waste, the woman I was riding with took it and we drove around Portland until she located a couple of homeless young guys (late teens, early 20s) and gave it to them. Her own son had been on the streets for awhile and she was acutely aware of how rarely those people have anything to eat (evidently he had been a runaway at some point).

    Truly, we are very fortunate.

    1. Thanks, DD. The Nappers are a compassionate bunch, and that personal connection just heightens awareness. It’s like people forget — You’ve got to eat every day.

  2. well written. hunger (probably also in part because of my appreciation of harry chapin) has always been a cause that we have supported. the local food bank not only welcomes donations of food, but also of time. they need volunteers to help sort, bag and distribute the collected food.

    1. Another excellent point, N.S.T.U. Donations of time are just as important. And again, all-year ’round, not just at the holidays when folks traditionally think to volunteer. We were both fortunate enough to have seen Harry Chapin perform. I love to hear Bruce Springsteen (another champion of grass-roots hunger-fighting organizations) who said it was Harry who energized him to the cause by living the way he believed. Every Bruce concert has a local organization present to collect cash donations, and he makes his own PSA in their support.

  3. Summer 2011 our food bank averaged 32 families per month. While we are open twice a month, families may only come once a month. Last Thursday we served 59! It is so sad to see so many shelves empty before the last family is served. When donating food a couple thoughts – many no longer have electricity, some do not have can openers, parents are looking for snack food for their kids and individual servings for work lunches, peanut butter, jelly and crackers make a meal for many of my families, toilet paper is high on the list of needs, as are cleaning supplies!!! We also have those little soaps, shampoos, toothpaste that you can get from hotels while traveling which people are happy to get.

    1. Hi CRW! Wow. Talk about making statistics “real,” and I never think about the TP and cleaning supplies as a need. Thanks for jumping in with some more excellent points.

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