On Feeding Our Neighbors

 

oneinfour

If there is one thing that astounds me living in America, it’s that people go hungry, and that very few people seem to care. Did you know that 30 percent of all food ($48.3 billion worth) is thrown away each year in the United States?

All the farms, the supermarkets, the corner stores, the farmers’ markets, the restaurants and cafeterias, the dinner tables. One third of all that food is wasted. We are just not very good at getting it into the hands of people who need it.

A month or so ago, I started researching food pantries in my neighborhood to see if I could volunteer. I found only one in our area, an incorporated city of 50,000 people on the north-east outskirts of San Diego. Statistics say that one in six people in San Diego County do not have a stable food supply. By rough estimate, that means our neighborhood has one food pantry distributing groceries once a month, trying to meet the needs of a potential 9,000 people who might need it.

A few days later, I happened to be in my local Starbucks and saw an event poster for a day of service at Feeding America San Diego (FASD). So I signed up.

Quick Facts About Feeding America San Diego:

  • They distribute 23 million pounds of food annually in San Diego, serving 73,000 children, families and seniors each week.
  • FASD’s Farm2Kids, BackPack and School Pantry programs give kids basic food items plus three to five pounds of fresh produce to take home each week.
  • Their mobile pantries reach under-served communities, and FASD partners with food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters across San Diego county.
  • Every dollar donated to FASD results in six meals. SIX!

Two Saturdays ago, Tau and I joined around 600 volunteers, mostly Starbucks employees, at FASD’s Mira Mesa warehouse. We worked on a team that sorted green apples, boxing them up for distribution. Our group also stripped the slightly moldy outer leaves off about 300 heads of cabbage and crated those too. Other teams stuffed backpacks, labeled cans and measured out family-sized packets of breakfast cereal from the mega packs that FASD purchases with donated funds.

Tau cleaning cabbages

During the three two-hour shifts organized for that day, volunteers prepared the equivalent of 31,280 meals, which will be delivered to our community. This organization is making a dent in hunger in our city, and I will definitely be volunteering again.

As for my kid, he learned in a very real way that not all children know where their next meal is coming from. He learned that food needs to be tediously hand sorted and distributed for people to eat. And he learned that both green apples (his favorite fruit) and cabbage (which he had successfully avoided up to that point) were key to our neighbors not going hungry.

God’s joke on us? That evening we got home to a meal prepared by Dave — a sumptuous one-pot pork dish with green apples and sauerkraut!

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One response to “On Feeding Our Neighbors

  1. Oh, Sue. You are doing such good things here! I volunteered as a kid in a food pantry with Girl Scouts and it changed my life. I am so glad you are involving Tau and what a difference you are making!

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