Thanks Giving – to Others

November 11, 2008 in farm, holiday

Roast Chicken - Light Test

Unfortunately, America is starving it’s food banks. At a time when food bank demands are shooting through the roof, donations to the food banks are disappearing. The NYT is running an article in a special section called “Giving” entitled “When the Cupboard Is Bare” by David Cay Johnson where they delve into the exploding food crisis here in the US.

Surplus production, once a major source of food for food banks, is now often sold to overseas markets. There manufacturers can get more than the value of the tax deduction of a charitable donation. This and other factors are forcing some food centers to turn away the hungry. SOURCE

You might imagine that this year is the same as past when food banks make their usual annual press releases pleading for food as we near the holidays.

This year it will be different and it is really only the beginning. With accelerating job losses and the depletions of meager savings for winter heating costs (officially called “fuel poverty“) more and more people will be forced to visit desperately understocked food pantries.

In the four months since June, demand for food aid has risen 20 percent in areas of the country with the healthiest economies and more than 40 percent in areas with the weakest, leaders of nonprofit food-distribution organizations say. And they predict that the need will keep growing in 2009 if the job market continues to contract, as expected.

“We are getting people whose work is always up and down, and they have lived with that their whole lives because they work construction,” Mr. Sly said. “Construction here has just stopped, and so we have carpenters and masons and electricians who have not worked on a new house in forever. So it is not that they are out of work for some weeks and then they go back to work. There is nothing for them, and they cannot imagine when there will be work again.” SOURCE

golden onions - view large

There are roughly a thousand pantries and soup kitchens in New York, said Ms. Stephens. City Harvest collects surplus food from restaurants and grocers and distributes it to nearly half of these volunteer feeding operations. It also operates a twice-monthly farmers’ market in the South Bronx, providing fresh produce at no charge, part of a small but growing trend among emergency food providers. SOURCE

US Food Crisis: Hungry in America (NOT MINE)
(Do you see that long line? There in the background? This is in America kids, right now, around the corner from your community. Melrose Mobile Market NYT Photo: Librado Romero/The New York Times)

Please consider becoming much more involved this year with your local food security efforts. Give money, give time, plan on growing some food especially for your local banks next year.

Each dollar of donated money, many food bank managers said, can be leveraged through barters, buying surplus products and otherwise arranging for $12 or more of food. City Harvest, for example, relies on 100 paid employees and 700 volunteers who gather surplus food and deliver it. “One of the big misconceptions is that we collect waste, which we do not,” Ms. Stephens said. SOURCE

Starting the 2008 garden
(Planting seedlings for the 2008 garden)

I can not stress too much how important it is to take that first step, out your front door, to do something for your neighbors while you can and to support an effort that you yourself may one day have to avail yourself of.

Please share your unique ways of helping to feed people. I would love to hear it all.

My children have had the opportunity to grow their own food and raise their own chickens and milk their own dairy goats. By no means are we affluent and we struggle like others to keep the house and feed the kids. But, while we all must eat every day, is doesn’t really take THAT much to get full and there should always be a way to share and a time to learn how and why to share.

This fall, I think its important that we share our feasting with others.

Tell me how you do this with your kids!