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.