Food For Thought Friday: Food... For People...

We are a lucky family. With five hungry mouths to feed, Mr. Lindstrom and I are able to make enough money to put food on the table.  For so many people this is easily taken for granted.  I'm ashamed to say, that for us, it often is too. Despite the fact that I am a meticulous meal planner, and try to plan meals so that we have no waste,  I feel sick when I clean the refrigerator and throw away food that has gone bad because we actually have too much. On a day to day basis, we take for granted the fact that meals and snacks are not hard to come by at our house.  I don't know what it is like to be hungry. I don't know what it's like to not be able to feed my family.

The other day, the Human Cannonball came home from school with a note in his bag.  In our particular public school system, at our particular school there are food programs for less fortunate families.  This note gave instructions on how our family could receive 30 pounds of food a month per student we had enrolled in the school system.  This gave me pause, 30 pounds of food a month.  I picked up the Human Cannonball to give him a hug.  He weighs 45 pounds.  This feels a lot like the weight of the bags I carry in from the grocery store once a week.  I looked around our kitchen. We have food that we can't fit into the cupboards decorating our counters.  We are so lucky.

The fact is that one in five families right here in Minnesota has trouble feeding their entire family.  As I picked the Human Cannonball up from school today, and I watched the parade of kids going to their buses, I wondered which of these kids isn't going to eat a healthy dinner tonight?  One in five families.

Our family has volunteered in a few ways to help facilitate the conversation about hunger in our house. One thing we have done, which was not through any organization, was to make "blessing bags." We simply filled some small brown paper bags with snacks, a washcloth, some hand sanitizer, chapstick, lotion, and bottled water to keep in our car. When we stop at a stoplight and see someone holding a sign that says they are hungry, we roll down the window and hand them a bag.  Many will argue that some of those people aren't really hungry, and frankly, I don't care. What my kids are learning from that experience is more valuable to me. They learn that we care about people in our world, and that when someone is having a tough time, we can reach out.

Another thing we have done as a family is make sandwiches for an organization called 363 Days.  This organization is founded on the notion that people are hungry 365 days a year, not just on Thanksgiving and Christmas when many people flock to the shelters to feed the hungry.  The other 363 days, people are hungry too. So, on your own time, with your own resources, as a group or as a family, you make sandwiches. Then, you drop them at one of many local Drop Locations and they are distributed from there to many shelters in the area.

Something we are planning to do this year, on Thanksgiving with the family is the Walk To End Hunger.  This walk, which takes place at the Mall of America, is an excellent time and space to open up the discussion of what hunger is, and how we can help.  The Walk to End Hunger is presented by the Twin Cities Hunger Initiative which is a coalition of many hunger relief agencies aiming to raise awareness and collect non-perishable food items to help fight hunger.

When I was young, we frequently talked about the children who were hungry in other areas of the world. The fact is that people are hungry right here.  In homes in our neighborhoods, at our schools, in our churches.  This is our community. I encourage you to open up the conversation of hunger in your homes, and consider what you can truly do to help.

How does your family talk about hunger? What kinds of things have you done to facilitate conversation or lend help?

Food For Thought Friday is brought to you by the amazing folks at Welcome Baby Care. They are THE postpartum and newborn experts. Check out their website, and don’t forget to “like” them on Facebook to take advantage of all their knowledge. Also, be sure to follow babycaretweets on Twitter to receive news and ideas on newborn care and thoughts about parenting!

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