Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Together We Can End Hunger

Last week Gracen's Daisy troop (are they called troops?) had a field trip to Harvester's food bank. I volunteered to be one of the drivers so I could go with them, and I'm so glad I did. As someone who has never had to worry about where my next meal would come from, I think it's incredibly important to teach my kids that unfortunately not everyone gets to live with that kind of security. Especially right now at Thanksgiving time.

The girls all brought food to donate, and I loved all their enthusiasm, and their innocence. On the drive down there I tried to talk about what we were doing, and more specifically why we were doing it. They knew we were bringing food for people to eat, but they just couldn't comprehend that sometimes people go without dinner, or breakfast. Including kids. I got a lot of why don't their parents just go the grocery store? And, well they can come to our house for dinner - let's invite them over!

If only it were that simple!

Harvester's is a regional food bank serving northwestern MO and northeastern KS providing food and related household products to more than 620 non-profit agencies including food pantries, homeless shelters, and children's homes. In addition, they are one of five regional disaster relief staging sites for Feeding America. They store food, water, and cleaning supplies that can be sent to a disaster site on short notice.

Harvester's feeds over 141,500 people every month. Every MONTH! Isn't that amazing? 25% of those served are children. Doesn't that just break your heart? And 8% have a college degree or higher. The face of hunger does not discriminate. 54% of households have had to choose between paying for food, or paying their rent/mortgage. How do you even make a decision like that?

It takes so little to buy a few extra staples and donate them. Yet so often we (me) forget. I don't want my kids to feel guilty by any means for their full bellies, but I definitely want them to be appreciative. And visiting Harvester's and beginning the conversation is a pretty good first step.

While we were there, our tour guide told us a couple of stories about how they get their food. She said one time Kellogg's had a mistake in their factory and they accidentally left the blue fruit loop out of the cereal. So they were unable to send them to grocery stores to be sold, instead they donated them all to Harvesters. Isn't that incredible? Do you think anyone would notice it was missing the blue fruit loop? I don't think so, but I'm just glad they donated them all instead of wasting them!

This was such a simple way to get Gracen involved. So many times we feel over-scheduled with activities but Daisies has had such a positive impact on opening her eyes to a community around her. I love living in our PV bubble, but there's a great big world out there ready for her to explore. I want her to continue to have the desire to help others, and to be compassionate to the world and everyone in it.

Since visiting Harvester's we've had many different conversations about hunger, and why people don't have food, and how we can help stop it. I hope she continues to believe she can change the world, because if everyone thought that way, it would be a heck of a lot easier. Even kids can make a huge impact, and I'm glad she understands that. I'll be here to support her every step of the way.

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