To the people who think of donating to food pantries as a way to toss out expired, no longer food that you yourself would eat, can I ask you to throw it away rather than use it as a donation. If someone goes to a food pantry, it's because they need to eat.
Low-income households have a lot of hardships to overcome. The last thing they need is the additional struggle of higher medical bills, more doctor visits, lower quality of life and less opportunity to obtain a job all due to the food we provide.
Trinity Place Shelter is a tiny, little shelter for homeless youth located in a church basement. Despite the location, no religion is thrust upon these kids. I volunteer and teach periodic cooking classes to the kids who are interested. I preach the gospel of vegetables.
As part of an ongoing fundraiser with TerraCycle, Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank's staff have been collecting yogurt containers and shampoo bottles in the break room. Three months in, we'd managed to fill up a couple of copy paper boxes. Then Whitehall Middle School got a hold of the idea.
Chad's attitude has changed, his whole family is eating healthier food, and the garden gets him outside moving and sweating every day, with his excited kids working beside him. And this kind of Appalachian pride is growing on 43 family gardens all across Ashe County.
When we're hungry, we expect to eat. In fact, we expect to be able to eat whatever we want. Eating when we are hungry -- or, as many of us like to say, when we are "starving" -- is easily taken for granted.
If the economy is showing tepid signs of recovery, we're seeing no indication at the hundreds of food pantries and shelters we serve daily. Record numbers of people are still in need of emergency food assistance -- many for the first time.