Thinking Beyond a Big Jar of Peanut Butter to Help My Local Food Bank

by Judy Stone-Goldman on July 23, 2011

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good quality food to donate to a local food bank

High-quality nonperishable food from our pantry...would I donate it?

One year, for the annual US Postal Service Food Drive, my husband volunteered to pick up a donation at the grocery store. He was gone a while, and when he came back he said, “I got stuck.” I knew what he was talking about: being at a store, indecisive, caught between options, standing in the aisle for too long, ready to give up.

“I bought this,” he said dispiritedly, holding up a bag.

He opened the bag and took out the biggest jar of peanut butter I have ever seen. It wasn’t even a jar. It was a tub, a vat, a cistern. I took one look and dissolved into such hard laughter I thought would hurt myself. From then on, “big jar of peanut butter” became code for ending up buying something ridiculous.

I return to this story today not just for a chuckle in memory (I can still see us both, flailing with hilarity in our kitchen, brought to tears by the idiocy of a jar of peanut butter so large it could choke a family of six or provide the foundation for a large mud house). The real point of the story is to ask, “Why did we donate a food we would not eat?” This was cheap peanut butter, full of trans fats and sugar. For ourselves we would buy organic, natural peanut butter, made from real peanuts and only real peanuts. But for the food drive—for poor people—we bought junk.

I am fairly certain we are not the only people to have done this. How many people clean out a cupboard for a food drive, welcoming the chance to get rid of unpopular or unpalatable (or outdated) food items?

Good quality food is high on our list of priorities (you know I love my vegetables!). We search out fresh produce, certified humane meat, interesting whole grains. Our canned goods are the best quality we can find, and we read labels assiduously to find products with the fewest additives. We depend on this food for our well being as well as our pleasure.

What would we do if faced with an emergency? How would we cope if a food bank were suddenly our only option to stave off hunger? Would we want to face that big jar of peanut butter? Would we be happy with the foods others had selected for us? Food banks offer some fresh produce, but their stock is primarily nonperishable foods—like beans, rice, and canned vegetables and fruit (and peanut butter). What could we expect to find there?

This blog is my chance to reflect, but I’m not stopping here. I’m starting a project to promote donation of good-quality food to food banks. I’ve already visited a local food bank run by Hopelink, and I’ll be visiting others in my region. You’ll read about these visits in future blogs.

From now on, I plan to give what I eat and to encourage others to do the same. Just because people are in need doesn’t mean they should have to eat poorly.

Questions for Reflection: How have you participated in food drives, and what have you typically donated? What would you hope to find if you needed to get food from a food bank? What do you think of the idea to “give what you eat”?

Writing prompts: “My experience with food banks has been ______” (then keep writing); “I am very dependent on foods that ______” (then keep writing); “When it comes to donating food in a food drive, I ______” (then keep writing).

Give what you eat!

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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Heidi Alberti and Atticus
Twitter:
July 24, 2011 at 8:16 am

Love this take on food banks, Judy. I am also guilty of donating food that I would never eat myself — & that is just wrong! A few years ago I also realized this gross error & now I only donate non-perishables I would actually consume — oats, beans, quinoa, brown rice, & frozen veggies if the food bank has freezer storage (frozen is superior to canned, plus I fear the chemicals in the can linings)

You can count on us to further your cause, Judy! At the food bank you visited, do they have ample refrigerated & freezer space for fresh veggies?

Heidi & Atticus
“http://www.atticusuncensored.com
“commentary to give you paws…”

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
July 24, 2011 at 9:03 am

I know that you and Atticus will be amazing cheerleaders for the cause, Heidi! The food bank does have some freezer storage but they are not well set up to get frozen donations from individuals. For their fresh and frozen goods they have connections with merchants in the community so they can arrange delivery. For now, nonperishables are best donation–apart from cash, of course. But that’s not to say all food banks are like that. Yes, frozen is superior to canned, and I do share some of your concerns about the linings of cans. However, I do eat some canned goods myself, and I know that there is a balance between striving for high-quality and living with reality of what the present “state-of-the-art” is. I’m excited to learn more from other food banks and see what the potential is! (Plus I believe some organizations support food drives for pets–now there’s a cause for Atticus!)

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Julie Labes
Twitter:
July 24, 2011 at 11:07 am

I would never donate “junk” to anyone. However, I feel as though just because i might buy “organic” or healthier choice foods, I do not think it is wrong to donate non organic foods. As I drive my cart round the supermarket, I notice that most people’s carts are filled with ‘regular” foods…many of these foods I would never eat but they are obviously ok with it because they are choosing to buy it. They are choosing not to buy organic foods so therefore I conclude that it is ok for me to donate the same foods to charities. and food banks without feeling guilty. In an emergency situation, i would gladly revert back to eating non organic and in fact we do not always buy all organic as it is sometimes just too expensive. If my family were ever in dire straits, I would be glad of any food of any type donated from any source. That is just my opinion.

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
July 24, 2011 at 11:17 am

Hi Julie – I’m so glad you brought this up! I wasn’t suggesting that everyone had to eat organic or that was the only food to donate. (We don’t eat exclusively organic, either.) It was more about donating food we’d be willing to eat. Some people really do donate food they wouldn’t touch or even food that is outdated or already opened (can you believe it?) I’m hoping to support a sort of “golden rule” for food donation. Thanks for sharing your opinion and helping me clarify as well.

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Molly Perry
Twitter:
July 25, 2011 at 6:09 pm

I think you hit the nail on the head with this blog! All too often people empty cupboards and give expired food thinking the recipients should just be grateful.

There are a couple of ways to avoid the urge to donate low quality goods. For one, buy good things on sale and stretch your giving dollar. Also, look for the specific needs of the food shelf or organization because they will often have a list of specific items that are needed (lessen the chances of the tub of peanut butter!).

Thanks for writing on such a good topic!

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
July 25, 2011 at 9:54 pm

Hi Molly – Just being conscious goes a long way to improving things, doesn’t it – looking for sales, paying attention to the needs of the organization. I think you are pointing out what some people think, “They just should be grateful,” which justifies (to some) the urge to donate something of low quality or expired. Thanks for sharing.

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Debbie Goldberg
Twitter:
July 25, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Hi Judy – This is a very thoughtful post. I typically pull food out of my cabinets for food drives, so mostly I’ve donated stuff that I would eat. There is a girl who comes to our local farmers market every week. She collects left over fruit and veggies, loaves of bread, etc. and brings them to shelters. I love seeing the plastic crates that she wheels around filled to the brim with healthy yummies.

Debbie

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
July 25, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Debbie, What a wonderful idea — taking extras to shelters. Great idea! I know that our local food bank does coordinate with the farmers’ markets here to get extra produce, so people are really trying. Thanks for your comment.

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Alicia Dunams July 25, 2011 at 9:14 pm

I confess. I’m one of those people who clears out the cupboard when there’s a call for an annual food drive. Although the food is not bad quality, it’s just food that has not been eaten in 6 months or so, like canned or carton soups, or the time I gave away all the pastas in my cupboard because of my low carb diet.

I think organic and whole food stores should make a more concerted effort to give back to the food banks in the community. One problem, is that “good” food is so expensive. I mean, a dozen of organic, gluten free cookies could be close to $8 dollars at whole foods, whereas you can get a few dozen of cheap cookies at the 99 cent store. At that point, it’s a cash game: We can feed more people with cheaper food.

Nonetheless, limitless giving has to come from a heart filled with abundance and fearlessness: That there’s enough good to go around!

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
July 25, 2011 at 9:57 pm

Hi Alicia, You are so right about high-quality food being very expensive and thus not stretching very far. It’s a dilemma for the individual trying to purchase food and also for the person wanting to donate. Another problem is making sure specialty foods (for example, gluten free) get to the right people at a food bank. It would be silly to have an expensive item go to someone for whom it wasn’t important. We can feed more people with cheaper food, but if it’s such poor quality, the tradeoff is too great (like families that fill up on potato chips because it’s what they can afford..) I hope we can live by what you say–that there’s enough good to go around!

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Maridel Bowes July 25, 2011 at 10:06 pm

This is such a fresh idea to food banks, Judy! Now that you say it, it seems so obvious even though, sadly, i do relate to the “getting rid of” phenomenon when it comes to giving food away. But you are changing my heart and mind on the topic and i look forward to being further influenced by your impassioned cause. I am willing to commit to being part of your plan and joining forces with you in this worthy endeavor.

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
July 26, 2011 at 6:01 am

Maridel – Obviously I had my peanut butter story to tell–I am as guilty as anyone of “cleaning out” the pantry, looking for what I’m going to foist off on food banks. That’s part of my motivation, realizing I needed to make that change for myself. So glad to have you join me.

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Yvonne Hall
Twitter:
July 25, 2011 at 10:15 pm

I’ve been saying since high school that the reason the poor have the highest obesity & diabetes rate is because the worst food cost the least. it is just SO SO wrong. But even with that thought I was not reading labels for my own foods … a few years ago this post would have meant a hill of canned beans to me. But then I was enlightened to my own eating habits and therefore to the food industry overall. And just last weekend I attended my company’s national conference where we’d been talking of GMOs, roundup ready crops and the differences between organic and 100% organic. One of our last speakers was a nutritionist, and she was telling a story of a program she had with young, over weight kids that although they had been working hard just could not lose the belly weight. So she told them to get rid of the HFCS and they’d see a difference. And they said really throw it away??? her response was .. would you REALLY want anyone else eating that crap? YES throw it away! Really hit home to me. Since I talk to people about bettering what they eat but have never told them to throw it out. I can only hope they don’t give it all way to the food banks. Companies will keep making it with all this crap in it if we don’t make a stand and stop buying it.
Organic canned goods go on sale too;)
Sorry for my rant.
Thanks for the wonderful and much-needed topic!
Yvonne Elm Hall
http://www.yvonneelmhall.wordpress.com

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
July 26, 2011 at 6:04 am

Yvonne, It is so horrifying and sad to me to think about children in poverty growing up that much more prone to obesity because their parents’ best options seem like the cheapest, poorest-quality food. I am an avid reader of food labels, so I’ll have my own rants in the future about that, and in fact it’s part of what stimulated this–realizing that I am so very careful about reading labels for myself but was giving canned food to food banks that had all sorts of sugar added. What would I do if I were the one in the food bank line? Your voice is welcome here–”rant” and all! Thanks for participating.

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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
July 26, 2011 at 8:17 am

What a wonderfully inspiring post! After reading this, I’m anxious to make a donation. You can count me in the group of people that will often pull canned foods from my cupboards to donate. I wouldn’t call it junk necessarily because when I bought it, I had every intention of eating it. :)

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
July 26, 2011 at 8:34 am

That’s the idea, Sherryl – if we would honestly want to eat that to nourish ourselves, it’s a good donation! Great to have you on board.

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Laura Sargent July 26, 2011 at 9:02 am

Judy – I love this post and the comments that everyone has made. I’ve been there with the struggle of what to buy for others and have been guilty of the “peanut butter trap.” During food drives, when volunteers stand outside the grocery store and hand out leaflets with suggested foodstuffs to buy, I participate. But as I reflect on those leaflets, I don’t remember ever seeing a suggestion to buy organic (maybe they should add a special request for that). Instead they usually ask for the largest tub of peanut butter one can buy (in addition to other things). I understand – it is a cheap source of calories and protein – I think of it as “emergency food” only. It’s just sad to think that in this great country of ours, that’s the level at which some of our people are having to function. Now, I choose to buy organic foodstuffs for foodbank drives – I try to operate with the “Golden Rule” as my guide. So I buy and donate only those foods I would eat myself.
I volunteered for a short time years ago for the PCC food bank in the U District (when I was a PhD graduate student – and discovered I would actually qualify for food bank services based on the “salary” I was making as a TA). We bagged lots of whole organic grains and beans for recipients. This program is ongoing (http://www.pccnaturalmarkets.com/community/foodbank.html)In addition, the PCC offers a “round it up” program: when one checks out, one can say “round it up” and the difference is donated to the food bank (one must specify “food bank” – the difference can also be donated to other causes like farmland trust). It is a simple way to support the distribution of healthy foods to those in need.
I think allowing our fellow humans to go hungry is one of the worst cruelties there can be. I am all for doing everything possible to end hunger and promote healthy eating.

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
July 26, 2011 at 10:23 am

Hi Laura – More power to you! Sounds like you’ve made a real shift with donating quality. Whole Foods also has a program for donating the rebate that comes with bringing your own bag, and I always choose Food Lifeline. I like what PCC does with “rounding it up” since that would create a large donation. I don’t think people realize how many ordinary families rely on food banks for basic food over a long period of time. We have such an old way of thinking about emergencies (locked in the basement with only crackers and peanut butter after a natural disaster, perhaps), but for many people, daily life has become close to an emergency. Love that you are on board with this, and so great to hear from you here.

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Alara Castell
Twitter:
July 26, 2011 at 10:32 am

Hi Judy,

I really enjoyed reading this post. I too am very health conscious and I remember when I shifted in the way that I ate…I donated the non-healthy foods to the food bank. Shame on me!

I feel in my mind I was like “well at least its food,” but then when I think about it again…they also need good nourishment because they are not getting much of it. I totally commend you for taking action and starting where we give good food that we would put into our own bodies.

Now to your point about what if something happens and I need to go into the food bank or rummage for food what would I do…this is a question that my husband and I ponder.

Obviously, we would need to eat but what if the junk is only left…do we not eat…do we eat? That is still a question I wonder because I know for me if I eat the junk no good will come from it. I might be better not to eat.

xoxo
Alara

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
July 26, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Such a great comment, Alara! And no shame for past actions, just reminders that we are all going to do better! I share the uncertainty with you about what I would do in an emergency. I can get really messed up very fast by eating the wrong foods. I know in the short-term I’d be better off avoiding anything that isn’t right for me. Let me know if you come up with any ideas.

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Alara Castell
Twitter:
July 28, 2011 at 4:41 pm

I will definitely let you know if I come up with any ideas and please do the same if you come up with something. Us sensitive beings must stick together. xoxo

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Jen Sako July 26, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Such a good point! Yes, give what you would eat. Not fake garbage. Same with clothing and household items. If you don’t want that blouse with the stains and holes, what makes you think someone else would . Needy or not!

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
July 26, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Jen, You are so right about clothing donation–same issue. I know that places that take clothing donation have to spend a lot of time (and thus money) sorting clothing and getting rid of all the rags people thrown in. Dirty clothes and poor quality food–anybody is going to feel worse if that’s all that’s available!

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Franziska San Pedro
Twitter:
July 26, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Hi Judy,

you are awesome! I love you for addressing this topic :-)
When people come by the door and ask for donating food items, I always give them what we would eat, too. The answer is simple: because I never buy junk food, so that’s all we have. I would never spend money on junk, or even worse give it to someone else.. Ok, I admit, I bought junk food before but it’s actually pretty rare that it happens.

Everyone deserves healthy food. I don’t even consider most of the items in the stores as “foods” because it’s plastic and not made for human consumption. The producers should be ashamed of worshipping the almighty dollar and throwing stuff on the market that is harmful to us. But I think that should be another blog post!

Thank you so much for talking about something that most people don’t even think of! You are great :-)

Franziska San Pedro
The Abstract Impressionist Artress

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
July 27, 2011 at 7:28 am

Franziska, Having a pantry full of foods you use is a great strategy IF we are then willing to part with those foods come donation time. :) As for the so-called food filled much of the grocery stores, I’m with you on that–it’s just a fake product that people ingest. There are so many threads to this, from the political to the personal. Love and appreciate your enthusiastic support.

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Robbie Schlosser
Twitter:
July 26, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Hi Judy,
You’re so right! There’s food that’s good for us, and there’s food that’s harmful. The latter doesn’t just lack any beneficial nutrients, but provides substances that cause injury or disease. Your example of most commercial peanut butter is a prime case, and so is practically every so-called fast food. One of my favorite writers on food and cooking is Mark Bittman, long connected with the New York Times, and he wrote a provocative article on just this subject last week — http://bittman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/18/more-weight-on-less-meat/. Food for thought, as they say.
Robbie

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
July 27, 2011 at 7:30 am

Robbie, Thanks for the link to this great article. I certainly knew about meat and what it costs environmentally, but had no clue about cheese. I don’t eat cheese, so this doesn’t introduce a dilemma for me (happy enough not to be faced with a new challenge!) but of course there are people completely devoted to cheese in large amounts (certainly makes the hamburger/cheese/fries a perfectly awful trifecta). I’m going to to start following Mark Bittman. Thanks.

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Robbie Schlosser
Twitter:
July 27, 2011 at 9:15 am

Hi Judy,
Thanks for replying, and I’m glad you enjoyed Mark Bittman’s article. Here is a presentation he made a few years ago. http://blog.ted.com/2008/05/15/mark_bittman/. Cheers!
Robbie

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Susan Berland
Twitter:
July 26, 2011 at 9:55 pm

You gave me a lot to think about. Our synagogue has a food drive each year at the High Holy Days. I have done one of two things – clean out my cupboards or shop at the store. When cleaning out my cupboards, into the bag goes the food I eat and purchase for myself – good, quality food. But when I shop at the store, I tend to buy the less expensive food, not what I would buy for myself. The opportunity is coming up in just a couple of months. We all deserve good healthy food. I will keep that in mind.

Susan Berland
A Picture’s Worth
http://www.susan-berland.com

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
July 27, 2011 at 7:32 am

Susan – Your pattern is exactly the same as the one I always used. I am definitely changing my thinking when I go to the store to purchase for food drives. As I’ve said in another reply, it doesn’t have to be organic. It just has to be what I consider a real, quality food that I would welcome and want to eat. That’s going to vary by person, just as any taste preferences do. The High Holy days are a wonderful time to put this into practice, blending the act of charity with the reflective time of the holiday.

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Brandy Mychals
Twitter:
July 27, 2011 at 5:57 am

I’ve definitely cleaned out the pantry for food drives – the food wasn’t bad…I’m just not a fan of “non-perishables” which of course are what is needed. I’ve also gone to the grocery store and just shopped for a food drive – getting food we love and donating. I laughed at your big jar of peanut butter story – so funny! I had one of those in my own pantry as a college student and it made 4 moves with me…frightening!
Brandy :-)

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
July 27, 2011 at 7:35 am

Brandy – Four moves on a jar of peanut butter?! Must have had a few stabilizers in it… :) Yes, nonperishables are hardly the ideal way to have to eat, but they are a reality for food banks, although food banks increasingly have systems for supplementing with fresh produce. I’m focusing on the nonperishables right now because it’s the best way for everyone to have access and participate immediately. No special arrangements needs. Glad to have you already buying and donating good food.

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Jillian July 27, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Love the big vat of Peanut Butter Story. It made me laugh because hubby has brought home stuff like that for us. It has taken me 11 years to break his habit of eating everything out of a box. Ewwww.

At my daughters’ school, there is an annual food drive at Thanksgiving. Each child is assigned a food item to bring in to fill a bin. Each bin is given to a family in need, with a gift card from Safeway to purchase a turkey. Some families put together a whole bin themselves. In all, about 120-130 bins are donated each Thanksgiving.

They don’t go to that school anymore, but I’d like to continue the tradition. I also plan on purchasing items for them to bring to the local food bank so they can “see how good they’ve got it”. We will definitely be purchasing items I would ideally feed to them everyday.

Jillian
Jillian Todd Portrait Couture

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
July 27, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Jillian, I can think of little better than involving children in giving activities. I think it helps build a generosity that can last a lifetime. Even better if they learn to give quality foods!

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Brenda Jones
Twitter:
July 27, 2011 at 5:46 pm

It’s been a while since I donated to a food bank, but I would donate from my pantry which means it’s foods that I’d eat. But, we don’t eat all organic, etc. because we can’t afford that either right now, at least not all of the time. If I were to grab stuff right now, it would be things like Healthy Choice soup, tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, whole grain pasta, probably some macaroni and cheese, tuna/chicken, and jarred fruit. We try not to have as much processed stuff in the house, but it seems every time we buy fresh, most end up in the trash because we end up not home and not able to consume it all.

I think what people donate depends on each person. I know that a lot of the heavy couponers often donate their finds and a lot of the coupon foods are “junk.” Many wouldn’t be able to donate if they weren’t getting the items for pennies. And many places don’t have enough to go around of the “cheap” stuff, so I’d be afraid how much less there would be if each item was of better (and therefore more expensive) quality.

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
July 27, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Brenda, Yes, that’s the issue – would people give less if they tried to give better quality? There’s nothing that says it has to be organic. The point is really to remember that people who use food banks still count, and still deserve foods that are as real as possible (despite being nonperishable). I’m not sure high-volume couponers who buy what I consider to be fake food (some of those breakfast cereals, for example) are doing anybody a favor. There has to be another way than to say poor people should eat junk because it can be afforded! That leads to kids filling up on corn chip snacks because that’s what is cheap. Thanks for sharing, and I hope you get to eat your fresh food soon!

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Ann Evanston July 28, 2011 at 5:38 am

I have always believed that if you give generously, you get generously and the quality of the give improves generosity. I love that you wrote this is JULY because food banks STRUGGLE this time of year. School programs are not open to feed children, and families are still hungry!

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
July 28, 2011 at 9:15 am

Thanks so much, Ann, for pointing that out about how in summer the school programs are closed. Some children get two meals a day through school–can you imagine the difference when summer hits? Learning to give generously and appreciating the value in being a giver–right up your (business) alley.

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Dennis Salvatier
Twitter:
July 29, 2011 at 1:57 pm

I agree with Molly. You can definitely plan ahead and see what the shelters are looking for and buy accordingly or search in your pantry for the items being asked for. The point is to give and to give well. This world needs more people giving. It’d be a better place.

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Darcie Newton July 29, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Recently I cleaned out my pantry because of a choice I made to only eat things made with ingredients I recognize (watch for my new blog about this experience). When I had gone through the pantry and had the two piles of things I would eat and things I would not eat I faced the same dilemma. What would I do with the food that I would not eat? Give it to a food bank? Throw it away? I did both…I threw away the open food and gave the other food to the food bank. In the end I couldn’t justify throwing away food that was still edible (and mostly good stuff…) I agree with you though and will be sure to focus on giving food I’d serve my family.

Thanks for starting the conversation on a great topic.

Darcie

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
July 29, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Darcie – I would have done the same thing. There’s no value in throwing out unopened, edible food. The goal isn’t to be so self-righteous that we would deny usable food! But won’t it be nice to think about purchasing food for others that we would eat ourselves? Welcome home–glad to have you back!

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Trish Hughes Kreis
Twitter:
July 30, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Judy, What a thought-provoking post! We usually do a food drive twice a year at work and I am like the others here – pulling the food out of the pantry that isn’t my favorite (although it was bought, so someone in the family was going to eat it). I would never give expired (or opened!) food to a food bank (even though I’m a little less rigid on the expiration dates, my daughter watches the dates like a hawk so we don’t even have expired food in our pantry). I’ve also shopped specifically for the donation drive but do try to get the most for my money whether that is sale items or cheap, unhealthy items (sorry, guilty!). I do buy and donate food I wouldn’t eat (non-vegetarian) because I know not everyone is a vegetarian and I don’t think I should push my eating choices on someone else (and, like you said, recipients are pretty much at the mercy of whoever donates). I’m rambling, obviously, but I will be more mindful this year during the food drive. Love thoughtful, insightful posts like this, Judy!

Trish
http://www.robertssister.com
caregiving. family. advocacy.

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
July 31, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Hi Trish – It’s such a dilemma–buy more food of lower quality or use the money for better quality. That’s a question I’m hoping we can continue to reflect on, but I know for me, I’m committed to buying food I would be open to eating. That means by-passing some of the cheaper stuff (for example, many cheaper vegetables come canned with sugar, but I won’t eat that). A lot of people said they take food from their pantry to donate, which is a bit different than my experience, which is buying purposefully for the drive. Let’s hope if it’s in your pantry you think it’s worth eating! Love having you think along with me on this, one Trish!

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Julieanne Case
Twitter:
August 3, 2011 at 8:23 pm

As usual, I so enjoy reading your blogs! I was laughing right along with you! Well, I’m in the category of giving things that I did buy for us to eat but they were close to expiration and some probably expired. I don’t usually go to the store to buy for the food banks. I do donate money at times for them to buy but I agree with you. We need to give what we would do for ourselves. If we buy them cheap stuff and they get sick, we are paying for that too, aren’t we?

Great point! Thanks for an insightful, thought provoking and funny blog! How do you manage to do all three at once?

Julieanne Case
Always from the heart!
Blog: http://www.julieannecasefromtheheart.com
Reconnecting you to your essence, joy, vitality, youth.| Healing you from the Inside Out |Reconnective Healing | AgeLoc Skin Care
http://www.thereconnectivehighway.com

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
August 3, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Thanks Julieanne! You are so right–society does end up paying when people who struggle get sick. I was thinking more about the human kindness and justice part of adequate food resources, but there are so many angles. Anyway, it’s a good day when a good cause can blend with something funny to make us willing to examine ourselves and our actions more thoughtfully. So appreciative of your being here!

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Charlotte Glisson October 1, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Many years ago when my husband was laid off from Boeing we lived on $280 a month unemployment for over two years. (Our mortgage was $87 a month!!) I was a college student at the time. We had combined our families when we married. Together we had 5 kids all living at our house.
We were eligible for some food stamps, but often utililized help from the local food bank. With our food stamps we bought large bags of brown rice, several kinds of dry beans, and lots of pasta. We also went to the day-old bakery stores to buy 8 loaves of bread for each week. (Sometimes I baked bread from scratch.)
The food bank always had big jars of peanut butter (and even 5 lb plastic tubs), but no jelly/jam to mix it with.
They always had tons of canned cranberry sauce (both whole berry and jellied styles). I taught my kids that cranberry sauce was so very special for sandwiches and how lucky they were to have it. It kind of set off a trend in their classes and other kids started telling their parents about the special “jam” my kids had in their sandwiches. Other parents started buying the special “jam” for their kids. As adults the kids now laugh about our story about the special “jam”.
The food bank also always had lot of government issued cheese blocks. For one month we could get either a 5 lb or 10 lb block depending on how much was available. We made lots of mac and cheese.
They also had to eat oatmeal for breakfast – imagine that. Hot oatmeal instead of boxed cereal that had tons of sugar.
And “blue milk”. That was surplus government issued powdered milk that you could see through was it was mixed. I saved about 3 empty gallon milk plastic jugs. When 2 were empty, I mixed the govt. milk mixed dry carnation milk, and later mr. milkman, (both from the food bank), and put it in the same containers. The kids really never knew the difference. They said school milk tasted different (I said it was because it was either 2% or whole milk – which was true).
All of this to say, we did what we did to keep feeding our family when times were tough.
I hear what you are saying about giving better choices of food, but when you don’t have much food, you learn to use and eat what becomes available.
We were very thankful to be able to go to the food bank. We also received food baskets at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
These things took place in 1970 and 1971.
I have enjoyed reading your blog Judy.
Charlotte Glisson

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Judy Stone-Goldman
Twitter:
October 1, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Charlotte, Thank you for this magnificent comment – giving us a window into the early 1970s and the way you coped. Money was certainly differently, wasn’t it? That was very clever, what you did the with cranberry sauce.

Since writing this post and hearing from various people, I’ve come to appreciate more deeply the dilemma of quantity (cheaper food) and quality (the better quality selections I might prefer). I was buying food for a food drive recently, and I saw that my dollars could go much further with certain selections. In the end I compromised–I bought foods I would eat (no sugar added to the vegetables, for example), but I did buy larger quantities of lower quality foods, such as cheaper tuna.

Thanks so much for offering your experience in such detail. Sounds like you are well past it, which is lovely as well. Best, Judy

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