Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Please Give to Your Local Food Bank

Erin Barnett is the director of Local Harvest.   I received this newsletter today and felt it was important to share. 
Welcome back to the LocalHarvest newsletter.
My husband spends his days teaching science to 150 seventh graders. If you remember your seventh grade science teacher, you know that one of the job requirements is being utterly unflappable. Check: virtually nothing phases this man. So when he came home last week all worked up about a news story, I put down what I was doing and listened.

It seems that in this land of milk and honey, the home of the free and the brave, one in six children don't always have enough to eat.

If you are like me, it is difficult to take in statistics like this. It is hard to believe that our nation has to grapple with both a childhood obesity epidemic and millions of hungry kids. The issue is made more slippery by the irony that in some cases these are the same children - overweight because junkfood is cheap, and living in homes where they sometimes have to skip meals. But as my husband shook his head in disbelief, "One in SIX, Erin - here!" I knew he was thinking of his students. Five classes of 30 twelve year olds: statistically, 25 of his kids would fall into the "food insecure" category. That's not a lot of kids compared to the 17 million who sometimes go hungry, but five per class sure does make it real.

I went back to the CNN story that Ed had read about the "new hungry." The line that got me was this, "And, the winter school holidays add to the woes of families in financial despair. Many parents will need to find alternative ways to provide breakfasts and lunches." Right - when kids are home from school for a break, the grocery bill goes way up. So in addition to the incalculable internal pressure to do right by their kids in the Christmas gift department, millions of parents are also worrying about whether there will be enough in the fridge to make lunch over break.

That's just the quantity issue. Quality is another thing. It's no secret that the dominant food system is making us sicker and fatter than ever. I could go on and on about this, but let me give you a visual instead, an obesity trend from the Center for Disease Control. It is amazing.

The good news is that there is so much work to be done on this one that there's plenty of room for everyone to find something they can do to help. Last week I received two emails from representatives of food banks looking to work with local farmers to increase the amount of fresh produce they can offer their clients, and another email from someone working to encourage CSAs in her area to offer subsidized shares for low income people. These community based efforts give me hope that in 2011 we will make some progress toward feeding our children not only enough, but well.

Here, with thanks to John Robbins, is my prayer for the New Year.

May all be fed.

May all be healed.

May all be loved.

Take good care,


Erin Barnett