A little donation of food can go a long wayPublished 9:49am Monday, January 28, 2013
Column: Something about Nothing, by Julie Seedorf
I like to eat. This morning I had breakfast. At noon I had lunch, and I expect tonight that I will have dinner. I had food for all of these meals.
I am fortunate to have food but many people in our area are having a hard time putting food on their table for their families.
I think of those people every once in a while, but unless I am reminded on a weekly or daily basis I forget to donate to the food shelf when I am buying my groceries. There is a box right by the door of my grocery store and most of the time I breeze right past it because I am in a hurry.
Recently I had a conversation with my sister-in-law who has been instrumental in keeping our Wells Area Food Shelf running, along with many dedicated volunteers. The figures she gave me were staggering.
This past year our area food shelf served 1,292 households consisting of 4,285 people. They gave out 50,842 pounds of food. Our food shelf received 9,926 pounds of food through donations. The rest was bought through our local grocery store and the Channel One Food Bank in Rochester.
Again, these numbers were staggering to me. The numbers have been going up. Although donations are steady, food drives are needed throughout the year to remind people that the food shelf needs their donations. I fear many are like me, rushing through life and forgetting that box by the grocery store door.
Recently I had a conversation with a person whose family is struggling to put food on their table because of illness, job loss and large medical bills. I asked if they used the food shelf and he said no, he felt funny doing that. He had worked all his life and wasn’t used to asking for handouts. I wondered how many more households that were out there needing a helping hand for a little while, and yet not being able to ask, because they have always been able to take care of their families until now.
A backpack program for school-age children is being started in my community. There are backpack programs being started all over the United States so children will have food to eat over the weekend. The backpacks are packed on Friday and full of healthy food so children will not go hungry over the weekend while they don’t attend school. I don’t know nearly enough about the program but the volunteers that are starting it are committed to making a difference in these children’s lives.
Watching the news in the cities and seeing how hard volunteers are working to get the homeless off the street during the cold weather made me wonder if my community has homeless people that we don’t know about. If food shelf numbers are up perhaps so are the homeless numbers. I asked people around my community if we have homeless people in my small town. No one seemed to know so maybe we don’t or maybe they are just good at hiding.
I suspect there are many people that feel we do too much to take care of people in our society. I suspect there are people that feel those people who visit food shelves and need the backpack program are taking advantage. Perhaps that is why some families live in silence and do not ask for help, because they are afraid of the criticism. I also suspect most of the people who need help never imagined themselves in the situation they are in. Life happened and because of things beyond their control they no longer were able to provide for their families.
Why am I writing about this in my column? Because I feel those circumstances could happen to me. They could happen to you. It could be us and we could need help. We could be those people who imagined it was never going to happen to them.
I am asking beyond the food drives to remember the food shelves in your area when you shop. If you can afford to drop a little food in the box on a weekly basis it will make a difference in someone’s life. If you clip coupons, and find coupons for something you don’t need but would work for the food shelf, use them to help you purchase food for the food shelf. We have purse parties and Tupperware parties, why not a home food shelf party? Have a little fun and conversation and help get the message out about feeding families.
I have been very bad at that. I am going to make a conscious effort this year to remember. Maybe you can only afford to donate a can or two but we can start to feed a village one can at a time.
Food shelf volunteers are notoriously good about privacy and are non judgmental, so if you know someone in need, assure them that their secret is safe with you and the food shelf crew.
“There is no ideal world for you to wait around for. The world is always just what it is now, and it’s up to you how you respond to it.” — Issac Marian
Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.