Even after the tomatoes were finally yanked.
Even after the tomatoes were finally yanked.
So I blew it for Hunger Action Month.
So much for 30 ways in 30 days in my house – between a weeklong business trip, the end of the fiscal year, the start of a school year for two different kids in two different schools, a new job for my husband, trying to get fall yardwork accomplished, starting to create Angry Birds Halloween costumes early (so I’m not frantically sewing the day of), and the neverending housework/laundry/dishes/cub scouts/dance class cycle, all my good intentions just fell through the cracks. I didn’t sign a paper plate, didn’t donate a tote bag, and heck, didn’t even make it to a farmers’ market to buy local during the month of September. Ugh.
Sound familiar? Getting sucked into the craziness of everyday life happens to a lot of us with small children – and a lot of us who don’t have the excuse of the little people, too. I don’t know about you, but all this go-go-go crisis mode crap stresses me out, and drives my husband crazy when I turn into the shrew. I’m not easily tamed.
But I digress. Sort of. One of the things I’ve been doing this month (with a long-distance friend) is an online course that has helped me clear my head quite a bit. It’s also further cemented the idea that food policy issues are important to me, and that I need to figure out how to incorporate it into my everyday life (more than I already do). Today, I’m doing that in two ways – writing a long overdue post about the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, and reminding everyone that tomorrow (Tuesday, October 4th) is the 2011 Pittsburgh Day of Giving. Whaddya know? They’re connected, and both points get me back on track.
Point 1. I referenced my trip last month to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank a few weeks ago. But here are some more visuals that struck me:
Wouldn’t you want to come and volunteer for these lovely, happy people at the food bank?
Look at the sheer size of the containers holding the food handed out in one night.
Again, the sheer scale of the place is amazing. And incredibly disheartening. Because if the food bank hands out this much food, it’s because that many people are hungry in this region.
Everybody’s favorite, industrial strength creamed corn. The food that moves through here is not luxurious. Which is a reason why the Produce for People program is so popular – it supplements these basic food items with fresh produce.
The saddest-looking donation in shop-through (where food pantries can take a gander at smaller donations from grocery stores and the like and see if the people they serve can use it). This birthday cake has definitely seen better days. Still, I’d rather see it donated instead of being thrown away. Kudos to the store that agreed with me.
The storage facilities in this place are cavernous.
See those blue mixed can stickers? That’s how the goods that are collected from local food drives are distributed. Food pantries will order those from the food bank for the variety. I felt better knowing that the stuff I donate is actually helpful.
This one made me tear up a little. The juxtaposition of the Feeding America poster, the food bank logo, and that lovely drawing was a little too much for me. My kids are lucky enough to not know what it’s like to be hungry – if only all kids could be so lucky.
We are lucky that the food bank is here. It is a sad, sad commentary on the state of our country that it has to exist at all. Which leads me to…
Point 2. You should care about this. Food, shelter, and clothing are the three needs of every human. If you are lucky enough to have an excess of those three, please consider donating to the food bank so that someone who doesn’t have enough of one of those three basic needs can have some more. People who need food assistance aren’t stereotypes you can wave away. They’re your neighbors. Especially in the current economic climate.
The generous folks at The Pittsburgh Foundation have made this incredibly easy. Our city is blessed with a strong philanthropic spirit – and the Pittsburgh Day of Giving, where your donations through their website (this one – over here – pittsburghgives.org – make sure you use it!) makes it even better. You can donate as little as $25, and your funds will be partially matched. It starts tonight at midnight. DO IT. You’ll be up too late making Halloween costumes or folding laundry anyway.
Or, heck, here’s another easy way: the food bank has a Groupon. Who doesn’t love those ridiculously good deals for the consumer (that turn out not to be so hot for the merchants, but not in this case)? You can donate $10 to help with school food programs. You’ve spent more than that on coffee this week.
I’m doing both (or will once it hits midnight tonight). I haven’t been paid (or fed) by the food bank to do either one of these things, or to talk to you about it. As a former food pantry kid, I know what it’s like to be poor. I’m thankful for social safety nets, both government- and privately funded. I’m happy to do it and talk about it because that means fewer kids go hungry. That’s a no brainer.
And, hey, check it out. I may have crapped the bed on Hunger Action Month, but I have World Food Week of Action 2011 to look forward to. And it’s during my birthday week, so I may force my family to do something food-related for my birthday. A little guilt never hurt anyone, right?