As many of you know, I belong to an amazing community-supported agriculture program called the Golden Earthworm Farm. This year, in fact, I am a drop-off location, which means my house is the place where 19 people come to get their just-picked organic veggies. While the price is pretty reasonable — about $20 per week — it’s still an expense, so you’d think that everyone would come and collect their boxes of swiss chard, baby bok choi and escarole. That’s not the case, though. For whatever reason people sometimes don’t come, which means for the past two weeks I have been left with big boxes of perishable veggies sitting in my garage.
Maggie, one of the farmers, told me this might happen when I agreed to be a drop-off location. People go away, they get stuck at work, they just forget, she said. She told me she didn’t want the food to go to waste so I should donate the leftovers to a worthy charity. I was so excited. I knew my church’s food bank is always in need of donations. All food banks, actually, are in dire need of food — fresh produce especially.
According to a recent Feeding America study –Hunger in America 2010 — more than 37 million people receive emergency assistance from book banks across the U.S. These are not homeless people. They are people who work hard, pay their taxes but just can’t get by. Food banks get by on donations from corporate America and from regular folks like us, but with the recession and the swelling ranks of those who are utilizing the service, the cupboards are getting bare. My local pantry is no different.
When I walked into the church this morning I was stunned to see how many people were filling up bags. It looked like the supermarket on a Saturday morning. Mostly elderly people, but there was one woman who was about my age. When she saw me dropping off food she hung her head down and turned around so I couldn’t see her face. I could tell she was embarrassed to be there. I felt terrible. I wanted to walk over, put my arms around her, give her a hug and tell her that I understood. That I know that anyone at any time can go from living well to living day-to-day. An illness. A job loss. A divorce. Any of the above can hobble anyone. She certainly has nothing to be ashamed of. I walked out thinking good thoughts for her and for everyone else who will have something to eat thanks to that food bank and others like it.
I also felt happy that I — through the Golden Earthworm Farm — was able to help. I am thrilled that at least some of those folks will have a salad or turnips or escarole with their cans of soup and tuna and boxes of pasta and stuffing. (OMG — think of all the BPA these folks must be taking in!). I hated the fact that, before I got there, there was no meat or fruit or leafy greens. No sweets, either, which is why I ran home and shopped in my own pantry. (I brought over some organic muffin mixes, sunflower seed butter, bread mix and other items I wouldn’t miss.)
And so, since I know so many of my readers are blessed, I ask you this: Do you know where your local food pantry is? Do you have food in your home that you know you won’t miss? Did you buy a big bag of apples, for example? Or is your garden already overflowing? If you answered yes, how about making someone’s day and giving back? You will be all the richer for your service. I guarantee it.
This post links me into Real Food Wednesdays, a real food movement taking place across the Web. Check out some of my fellow bloggers by clicking through.