I have a confession.
When it came time for the annual food drive, I’d find myself reaching in the back of the pantry and loading the foods that had been collecting dust for oh-too-long.
Needless to say, there was little to no thought or intention to what I was giving because “At least I’m donating something” – right?
I’m not proud of my ignorant justification, “Sending something is better than nothing”, but it is the truth.
Then I met Ms. Renee.
Ms. Renee had been referred to me for nutrition counseling. She was willing and ready to do the work necessary to improve her health. She had been exercising regularly, reducing her portions, and trying to make better choices.
During one home session, I asked if I could see what she had in her pantry and fridge. I’ll never forget how quickly the atmosphere shifted. The shoulders of this smiling, upbeat, cheerful soul suddenly slumped over. As she bowed her head, I heard, “I won’t be able to go to the grocery for another week; there’s not much in there.”
With naive optimism, I replied, “It’s OK; I want to show you how we can work with what you have.”
Before opening her cupboard, she prefaced with “All I have is what I got from the food pantry earlier this month.”
My heart dropped as my eyes saw the 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. R has limited food options. I don’t think before I give!”
At this point, you’re probably thinking:
“Shame on YOU! You should know better.” or “I do the same thing! I never thought about it like this.”
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 relate to similar thought patterns I’ve shared, I invite 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, 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.
A few things to consider:
- No glass
- Avoid jumbo size products
- Read expiration dates
- Before hosting a food drive go to download Eat Fit Donation pantry list and encourage people to donate 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 need any specific item that you could focus your collection on
And remember, we all can nourish and fuel a healthier community. From the words we feed each other to the food we share, what we give matters.