Friday, November 15, 2013

We're In The Season For Giving Thanks by Roz Denny Fox


 

I always like to begin November by counting my blessings and all that I have to be thankful for. Some years my list is longer than others, but some things always on my list are a wonderful family, good friends, a roof over my head, and food aplenty.

Lately I’ve thought a lot about food. Not because I’m on a diet—that’s perpetual. It’s more because every time I turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper there’s talk of how many families go hungry every day in our nation. It’s appalling. A recent cut to our National Food Stamp program of 5 billion dollars has resulted in food losses to 22 million children and 9 million veterans. And it’s probably the first in a series of cuts.

I wasn’t born during the great depression, but I wasn’t so far removed from it that it wasn’t a topic prevalent in our household as I was growing up. My parents considered themselves lucky to own property where they could plant large gardens during the depression and during World War II. My mother fed people. She baked bread, cooked huge roasts, and canned fruit and vegetables. She always had a sandwich available for anyone who knocked at our door. And when I was four or five I remember going with my mom, hauling jugs of coffee and sacks of sandwiches and cookies in my little red wagon to soldiers riding troop trains that stopped to refuel in our small town. It was always dark and I felt important to be allowed to stay up late. It was scary dark because of black-outs, but as young as I was I remember soldiers being grateful for food as many had been riding the train for days.

As I got older I griped about weeding those massive gardens. Now, looking back, I wish I’d had a better understanding for how many people didn’t go hungry because of the bounty from my mother’s Victory Gardens as they were called.

What living in a house-of-plenty did do was imprint on my DNA the fact that food is the staff of life, and it’s important to see that people, especially kids don’t go to bed hungry.

Food Pantries, Community Food Banks, and organizations like Bountiful Harvest are in more need of assistance than they’ve been since the great depression. No amount of help is too little. For instance, my RWA chapter collects loose change at our monthly meetings to donate to our local food bank. One might think loose change won’t feed many families. But, our total of loose change for half the year was over $90.00. And for every $20.00 given to our food bank, they’re able to purchase $130.00 worth of food. In many ways giving a donation is better than taking $20.00 to purchase rice and beans or cereal privately. Not that food banks can’t use real food, they can.

And yes, I know some say there’s fraud and waste in our government food programs. I suppose there are always folks who figure ways to take advantage. I also know schools in our area have started filling backpacks with food on Fridays to help feed kids on weekends. I’ve heard the food in the backpack is usually shared by the entire family. And there are too many stories of mom’s skipping meals so their children can eat. Most are working mothers who can’t afford to get sick and miss work. I find this hard to wrap my head around the thought of people going hungry in our country, and really my blog isn’t a plea for donations. It truly came about for the reason I first stated—a count of my blessings. I’ll end by saying I’m thankful to still be able to carry on my mom’s tradition of helping to feed the hungry, even if I can’t do it on the personal scale she did.  

14 comments:

  1. Excellent post, Roz. My child's school is collecting food for the backpack program right now. What an amazing woman your Mom was for what she did and for the great example she set!

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  2. Very thought provoking. My son's school has adopted a town in Cambodia.
    And, Roz, you need to write a book about those days with Victory Gardens and little red wagons full of food. Awesome.

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  3. My mother, like yours, is a very personal story of feeding the hungry. For over 30 years she has been a cook at the Salvation Army. She wakes at 3:00 in the morning to prepare breakfast to feed up to 200 people a day. The holidays are always especially busy when they prepare special turkey or ham dinners for 2-3 times as many people.

    Like you, I have always admired my mother for the work she does. Once I asked her why she worked so hard as a volunteer (it is not a paying job). She said when times had been hard for the family, someone had helped us out and she was repaying the kindness.

    Women like our mothers, and you, are special. The world is a better place because we have people who care.

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  4. Such an inspiring post, Roz. Knowledge of starving families abroad is common, but few in the US realize how deep the problem is at home. Thanks for reminding us at such a time, that we are in the privileged fifteen percent of the world population who doesn't suffer from hunger, and we should be grateful enough to share.

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  5. Roz, thank you for reminding us about the hunger in our own communities. Here in Glendale, AZ, there are hundreds of homeless kids in the local school district, and many more who go to bed hungry at night. Here are a few of the Glendale food pantries that provide meals for those in need: St. John's Lutheran Food Bank; Brad Riner Office at First United Methodist;
    and Hope for Hunger. Right now, the problem of hunger is so bad that the need greatly surpasses the resources. The best way for us to give thanks for everything we have is to help those who have little or nothing.

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  6. Thanks to everyone who has responded up to now. I had internet problems this morning and couldn't get on the site. Rose, your mother is in a class of angels. Shelley, thanks for listing the places that feed the hungry in your area. As well as our food bank we have Gospel Rescue Mission and many churches. My sister's small church has a list of seniors they try to make sure gets one meal a day. Some were cut off of Meals on Wheels when the sequester kicked in. It's so good to hear that we all do what we can.

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  7. Wonderful post, Roz. Pam is right. You have to find a way to put your mom and your little red wagon filled with coffee and sandwiches in a book! And Rose's mother! I do believe goodness outweighs the bad in our world, we just don't hear enough about it. I pray that help gets to the Philippines in time.

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  8. A beautiful post by a beautiful lady. I think, Roz, that you've made an impression on all who read this. Admittedly, I'm a bit of a cynic because I've worked with the homeless population for seven years, and for fifteen years before that, worked with the "normal" disadvantaged population. The adults are exhausting and the children are heartbreaking. I don't have the answers for "curing" homelessness although I suspect they're heavily tied to curing mental illness and addiction. But as for hunger?? I organized a food pantry, too. And kept it full. No one should go to bed hungry in America. Thanks for the heartwarming and provocative post.

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    1. Linda, I know how when you lived in Texas you worked with the underprivileged. I have other friends who are in social work and they have stories upon stories of adults who work the system. My main care is for the kids and the vets who have fallen on hard times. We need to reform many of our systems, but in our country people shouldn't die of malnutrition.

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  9. Roz, what a wonderful gift your mother gave -- not only feeding the hungry, but instilling in you her belief that regular people can and should make a difference. She did a great job!

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  10. I love it when the good things about our pasts are carried forward. Such an inspiring story. Thanks for sharing.

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  11. Roz,
    Your mother and Rose's mother are both inspiring examples. My kids' old school raised money for the Tucson food bank. They did so well but I still feel discouraged. Our country has so much but many do not have enough to eat.

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  12. Thanks Roz for sharing your story about your mom. What a blessing she was to others. And you are a blessing to so many of us. We have that to be thankful for. smile Happy Thanksgiving

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  13. Thanks everyone for checking in. Sometimes it's not easy to write about things in our own lives, but then we find out you all have great stories to share as well. Happy Thanksgiving.

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