I have a confession. I’m not proud to admit this, but when it comes to the fall food drive at my kid’s school, I am usually rummaging through the back of the pantry to see what I can send.
Needless to say, there is usually little to no thought or intention to what I’m giving because “At least I’m donating something” – right? I figured whatever I was sending would be used and the recipients would be grateful for anything.
At least that’s how I used to think until about two years ago when I met Ms. Rachel.
Ms. Rachel had been referred to me for nutrition counseling. Ms. Rachel was willing and ready to do the work necessary to improve her health. She had been exercising on a regular basis, was reducing her portions and trying to make better choices. For this particular meeting, I was doing a home visit and supposed to help guide her on how to cook healthy with the foods she had on hand.
Our meeting started off well, Ms. Rachel was interested and eager to learn how to prepare healthier meals for her husband and herself. Then I asked her if I could look to see what foods she had on hand.
With her head bowed low she said, “I won’t be able to go to the grocery for another week, so there is not much in there.”
I responded with naive optimism “It’s OK, I want to show you how we can work with what you have.”
In the fridge, there were some eggs, 1/2 loaf of bread, mayo and maybe 2 oranges (this was 2 years ago so my memory is a little shot).
Before opening her cuppard she prefaced with “All I have is what I got from the food pantry earlier this month.”
My heart dropped.
Lots of boxes of mac n cheese, canned ravioli, baked beans, Oreos, and canned corn.
That was it.
All I could think was “Shame on me! I am part of the reason why Ms. Rachel has limited food options. I don’t think before I give!”
As you read this you are probably thinking of one-two things:
“Yvette, shame on YOU! You should know better.”
“Yvette, I do the same thing! I never thought about it like this.”
And so that is why I am writing to you today.
If you rely on the donations from the food banks to feed your family, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I did not give with more intention and I promise to do better.
If you can relate to the thought patterns I had and have shared about, I am asking you to join me in being more intentional with what and how we give to our local food pantries.
As Maya Angelo said, “When we know better, we do better.” I now know better and if you’re still reading then you do too.
Now we must do better.
Together we CAN make a difference and we can teach our children about the importance of giving with intention.
Eat Fit Acadiana and Healthy Acadiana have partnered to help spread the message and during the month of October we are hosting a community-wide healthy food drive, you can download this free toolkit and share it in your community, church, school, and place of work.
A few things to consider:
- No glass
- Avoid jumbo size products
- Read expiration dates
- Before hosting food drive go to download Eat Fit Donation pantry list and encourage people to donating things such as: brown rice, raw oats, beans, peas, lentils, canned tuna, peanut butter, low sodium canned soups, no added salt vegetables, no added sugar fruit, powdered milk, olive oil, low sodium seasoning, dried herbs, spices
- Call your local food bank and ask if they are in need of any specific item that you could focus your collection on
And remember, we all have the ability to nourish and fuel a healthier community. From the words we feed each other, to the food we share, what we give matters.