Today’s post is my last official post from my Food Insecurity series and the start of Tripping Vittles being a full-time job for me. Food insecurity and helping feed people have become a passion project, but I will not focus on Tripping Vittles, though I want to share some food Insecurity final thoughts on what I have learned.
I have been faced with the reality of how privileged I am when it comes to food, even in the times I have been short on money to buy food. Or more correctly, the food I wanted to eat.
There is dignity in food. And most of America does not understand it. I think there are places in the world that get it, France? But that is a post all its own. I did not understand the weight placed on having food, decent food, good food, great food, or out of this world, next-level exceptional food.
The importance of choosing your food is vital to dignity. When food is a gift or handout, non-expired, non-rotten food is essential to someone’s humanity.
Dictionary.com defines Dignity as a noun, plural dig·ni·ties.
Bearing, conduct, or speech indicative of self-respect or appreciation of the formality or gravity of an occasion or situation.
Nobility or elevation of character; worthiness: dignity of sentiments.
Elevated rank, office, station, etc.
Relative standing; rank.
A sign or token of respect: an impertinent question unworthy of the dignity of an answer.
Person of high rank or title.
Such persons collectively.
I share the definition of dignity because out of this whole series, the processes we make people go through to get food, and the food we give them often came off as very undignified.
What is decent food? It is different for all. When we provide food for people, are we giving them a dignified experience? Do we make it easy for someone to get food? Jumping through hoops is anxiety-inducing.
Are we making sure that what we give is not rotten, expired, or not something anyone would want to eat?
What is decent food to one person may not be decent food to another, but I think we all have to come to a place rich or poor that food is what sustains us, and there should be no judgment around what we eat as long as we are not eating people and pets. So people and pets are off the menu.
If decent to you is a 100$ steak, that’s cool; please don’t judge if someone fills their belly with chips and mountain dew because that may be decent food to them.
We tie so many things to food.
We tie so many things to food. Holidays, feeling happy, general celebrations that we forget that not everyone has positive memories associated with food. If you are hungry or don’t have food, then Memorial Day or July 4th looks way different.
If someone in your life used food as punishment, will you ever be able to sit and truly savor a meal, or is it just sustenance until the next time you have to eat to survive?
Speaking of surviving, when someone says they do not like something, do you honor that feeling because maybe their dislike of potatoes is because they had to eat potatoes every day of the week to survive.
I encountered another thing while eating food pantry food, and there is no easy way to say this. I would implore those giving food away to stop giving spoiled food to those in need. It is demoralizing, and it makes you feel a way I have a hard time describing. When I ate strictly from the food pantry, it was shocking how many rotten unsuitable items I received from the food pantry.
I can go to the store or to a restaurant to eat when I choose if I did not have enough food. I cannot imagine what it must be like to receive all the meat for a week and realize it is rotten. How demoralizing it was for me.
Food Insecurity Final Thoughts
This whole month comes down to a few simple things for me.
- There is so much food out there we just logistically have to find better ways to get it to the people who need it.
- Very few people are scamming the system. and so what if they are. Far more people need food assistance than could ever scam it. The good outweighs the bad. Stop making it harder to get food. Rules are starting to come back as covid goes away. Maybe don’t change the practices back to pre-covid. And perhaps the simple and more complicated places should consider relaxing the rules and regulations.
- The massive places like Mid-Ohio do not need your kids’ lemonade stand money. But I will tell you there are 3-5 organizations that I know of that could take $75 cash and feed many people who will never make it to Mid-Ohio or any other large food pantry. These grassroots organizations have Amazon wish lists. They have cash apps, and they are going right to the heart of food insecurity issues.
- Lastly, please do me a favor when somewhere you know of has a food drive. Think about what you are giving. Don’t give expired food. If you donate a ton of canned goods, make sure they are pop-tops or provide many can openers.
Some more tips to help feed hungry people
- Think about a whole meal. Hamburger helper is fantastic, but not if you don’t have ground beef.
- Powdered Milk and Water are essential to go together.
- Packets of flavored tuna and chicken will remove the monotony of eating the same can of tuna repeatedly.
- A Monetary donation to a small grassroots organization helps allow a charity to get Cereal and give milk. In addition, the money enables the organization to pair meals that will go further and last longer.
- Bread is great with peanut butter but even better with jelly, and it kicks up a notch with cheese and lunch meat. In one month, I received 15 jars of peanut butter and one squirt bottle of jelly, which I would have done for some turkey and cheese.
- Lastly, if your church does outreach please please please do not tie receiving charity to the word of God. Do not make someone recite a bible verse to get food. Or attend a meeting with the faith involved before you hand them their meal for the day. Be more creative than holding food hostage to get a reaction to your God. Let your faith guide you; if you do it any other way, you are forcing your God onto someone for a meal. There is no other way to turn it then that’s a crappy thing to do.
We have so many layers of hungry in this country, and we have so much food. I mean seriously ridiculous amounts of wasted food! We throw food away in restaurants and cafeterias. We don’t buy ugly fruit and veggies in grocery stores, so it gets thrown away.
I believe that the powers running the world are interested in keeping people hungry, but that is a conversation for cocktails or possibly an extended series all of its own.
Until we meet for drinks or I write that expose, please seek out small grassroots organizations. Many specialize in Food Insecurity. Put a few bucks in their cash apps or buy something off a wish list. If you are not sure, ask I can direct you to some really great organizations.