food insecurity

Food Insecurity: My Final Thoughts

Posted on May 17, 2021

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.

  1. There is so much food out there we just logistically have to find better ways to get it to the people who need it. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Spices Why We Need Them: A Food Insecurity Post

Posted on April 10, 2021

It is Easter, and I am sitting thinking about Spices and why we need them, I am thinking about all the different ways seasons change; I am not religious, but this marks the beginning of summer food and new growing seasons. Just like seasons changing, food changes with seasoning.

 Growing your food is something my parents and sister have excelled at over the years.  My dad’s yard and garden were so impressive that strangers would stop and talk to him about his yard. We had our ditch line filled with pumpkins, squash, and zucchini.  He planted a vast raspberry bed along the side of the garage.  Until I got a box of Cheerios from the food pantry, I could not figure out why I did not like them as an adult.  They taste completely different when you can’t have fresh-picked raspberries and half&half on them with a spoonful of sugar! 

My Mother and Sisters Green Thumbs

moms garden

My mom and sister continue the planting and green thumb growing.  They have beds of fruits and vegetables. They have planter boxes all over, and my mothers’ flowers are stunning.  While they were all born with green thumbs, I was born with the black death thumb. I have killed everything I have ever tried to grow, even killed a fake plant once.  the fake plant was on a radiator in the sun, and one day I came home, and it had melted into an odd, misshapen pile of plastic.

I have started to form a plan, the plan is to form a charitable arm to Tripping Vittles that will begin to reimagine what it is like to feed the hungry, houseless, and people who may not have what they need for a complete meal. No one in this country should be hungry. We have the wealth to feed in the manner of kings three meals a day. But many who hold the wealth do not see it that way. They grip tight to their money, and innovation grinds to a halt.  I feel it in the spring of invention.

 I have met people reimagining this model, but they cannot do it alone. They need help. I want to be in on helping at the very roots of this movement. The way I have lived the last month on the food given,  I have found some fundamental things missing.  Seasoning!!!! To name one.

Spices and why we need them

In the last 4+ weeks, I got only one bulb of garlic—no salt, no pepper, no essence, nothing else to season food with.  The heart of Tripping Vittles is the spice of life. Spices ground people; they take people home if only in their taste buds. So to be without spices, in my opinion, is tantamount to being without food. The world cooks with seasoning.  Seasonings are a massive part of every ethnic food in America: Indian, Latino,  Asian, Black,  Pacific Islanders, and white.  

Yet, in the world of food insecurity that I have encountered, spices are as rare as finding a lost bitcoin mining operation!  You know they are out there, but you have no idea the secret to getting them. So doubling back, I am looking at how I can get spices and such in the hand of people cooking food from pantries—starting by dragging all the grow pots out of my garage, buying some potting soil, and trying to grow some herbs.

grow pots

 My Garage is filled with grow pots!  I have tried so many times to grow things to no avail, yet I also do not throw anything out! I can build things, so I am going to attempt to construct some herb boxes.  The plan is to start with spices and see where this all goes. Sharing spices has been a 30-year dream of mine. It is how I came to form the business of Tripping Vittles. I would love for you to join me in the growing endeavor.

Here is a link to a plain growing box.  

It should not be charity it should just be what we do to help

We will talk about growing other things at a later date.  If you are close to me in Westerville, keep an eye out for how Tripping Vittles’ charitable arm, Roots of Change, will work at a grassroots level to change what it means to be hungry.  It starts in our communities. So I encourage you to join me no matter where you live.  To change how we feed those of us who are hungry.  I am taking a page out of my friend steves book and his organization Couch Philanthropy, and I have opened a cash app. Roots of Change. Donate if you wish.

The goal is to have a 501.3c arm of Tripping Vittles, but The 501.3c is an involved process, and I will eventually get there; if you want to donate now, I will keep everyone abreast of how we will be using the money from preparing meals to growing spices. This has all come from my last month and seeing areas where there are holes in people’s Feeding.

Big Food Banks don’t think about the small things like spices

The big food banks serve a purpose, but just like the companies that donate to them, humanity and dignity are lost in translation from food donation to a human being’s mouth.  I cannot stress enough we all have a right to eat a delicious meal.  Let me know what you are growing, tag me in your photos, drop a comment and follow me on all the socials. Let’s do this across the country—a movement of spice.

My series is technically over; it has been a month. I have so much more to write on and to share about my experiences. I am not going to call an end to the series; there will be a continuation. This has become a passion of mine. The sharing of recipes on food pantry sights has given rise to others sharing what they cook. We are all human beings, and we all have something to contribute to this world. It has been awesome to see the discussions started and people taking a risk to share their food ideas. This is some of what I envisioned Tripping Vittles to be all those years ago.

I have been changed by this experience

Food Insecurity will not be all I write about, but it surely has shaped how I will view food from now on, and we will talk about that when the cause arises. I hope you will help me in whatever ways possible to get spices into the hands of people who may need them. I envision this being a multi-cultural sharing of spices and love. Stay tuned to see how this plays out.

Rules of Engagement on Food Insecurity

Posted on March 11, 2021

I have been trying to figure out how to set rules of engagement for my series on Food Insecurity. If you have not read my blog yet, I will tell the story of food insecurity by eating almost all food pantry food for the next month.  I will live food insecure for the next month, but what does that look like?


I face some unique challenges So I am trying to set rules of engagement on the food insecurity series. One, I write a food and travel blog. I  usually take photos of food that sometimes cost as much as what a person has to spend on food for a week or month.  If I am going to do this challenge, I have to admit that part of what Tripping Vittles does is a privileged way to look at food.

 Since its inception, the concept behind the Vittles was uniting people over food. That has not changed, so I am comfortable telling this story of Food Insecurity. We need to unite and what better way to do that than over food.

 The next part is more complicated. I am not using this series to sell anything; that is not why I am doing it.  It comes about by being touched and finally finding a way I, Lauri, can make a difference globally, where 35 years in the foodservice business and what has taken place the last year.  These circumstances helped me find my passion for helping people and becoming more of a community citizen. 

Do I Change My Writing?

That said, do I change how I write? Do I remove my affiliate links? And do I not talk about Tripping Vittles products from spices to coffee? I have wrestled with this, and there are some things I have to say that will lead me to my rules of engagement for the next month. The first. It is not my place to decide how anyone food insecure or not spends their money.  I will continue adding my affiliate links where it is essential to the writing. If I cook with an air fryer, there will be a link to the blog post’s air fryer.  I am still a business, and that does not stop me from telling this story. The second all the things I have in my cupboards are fair game.  So yes, if I have a spice in my cabinet, I may use it. It may be my spice, or it may be some other brand, but my cupboards are fair game.

Rules of Engagment on Food Insecurity: The Freezer if off limits

 What is not a fair game is my freezer. What is in the freezer is mainly a quarter a cow; it is not to say someone that is not food insecure cannot have steaks or roasts; it just would not be valid if I kept going to my freezer to make a meal. The only thing that will come out of the freezer to cook is what I put in from a food pantry. 

Will I make gourmet food and other things with the food I get? Yes, Yes, I will! It is who I am. I cooked gourmet food with an iron and a tea kettle in college. Why would I stop when I have been given some wonderful and beautiful ingredients. College was 101 ways to make noodles taste different. I have many better ingredients now than back then.

Eating Out

Lastly, I am trying to put into words about going out to restaurants I will probably eat out this month, this is a quandary for me and I am not ready to talk about why. What I will say is I will as I always have, make an adjustment to my budget to afford a restaurant meal. These are choices we all make. I am sure I will discuss it in a future post. but I had to include it in my rules of engagement.

A Month-Long Series: Surviving Food Insecurity

Posted on March 7, 2021

Hello Tripping Vittles followers. This is a little something different than I have done before. This is going to be a month-long series. Surviving food insecurity or as I have come to call it “no shame in needing help”

Why This Topic Now?

I am embarking on this project that I feel is super important, but I want it to strike the right tone and give the correct information as not to offend.  I have dubbed this project “no shame in needing help.” It is a way to make people feel comfortable in asking for help feeding themselves and their families.

 A few things have happened over the last two months or so.  The first being I have found the way I want to give myself to my community and people in need.  I have learned a great deal over the last few years about food insecurity. With the pandemic,  many more people who have never worried about putting food on their tables now wonder how to feed themselves and their families.  Others are caring for more people in their homes and could use extra help to find more food and new ways to cook the food they get. 

What Am I doing?

After having some lengthy conversations with friends and people I look up to in the food donation world, I have decided to do a one-month project. I am going to use the resources around Columbus to eat for a month. I am going to show you how you can use these resources. And with what I get, I will show you some possibly new and different, and I hope tasty ways to use the food to make it feed more, stretch longer and taste delicious. 

I very much look up to The Food Soldier, and yesterday she gave me her stamp of approval not only as a great idea but also a much-needed element for food-insecure people. 

What is Food Insecurity?

At this stage, I would like to explain a little bit about food insecurity.  Someone asked me to explain what it is and who is affected.  I appreciated a person who was not themselves food insecure taking the time and care to understand. The following is how I explained it. 

The common definition is not knowing where your next meal is coming from. But it goes deeper and it looks like many things to many people.
If you have ever not had food in your possession to eat when you are hungry. Have you had to choose between feeding yourself or your kids, that is food insecurity.

 Have you had to take a pet to a shelter because you cannot afford to provide the pet and yourself food? That is food insecurity.

When the first of the month rolls around, and you choose to pay rent vs. buy groceries, that is food insecurity.

 Nearly all of us in the suburbs need a car to get to work( we can discuss the need for public transportation another time). Have you had to pick your car payment or gas over food? That is food insecurity.

When I Realized I was Food Insecure

At the first of the month, I realized I was food insecure in that time between jobs where the money is tight, and I had been working in a restaurant where I got a meal a day, five days a week.  Pay rent or go to the grocery store?  I am beyond privileged, and I could dip into a savings account and get a little money, but the realization is if I used that money to eat today, it might not be there for what it was intended later on in life.  The Thing is I am not alone; I have spent money earmarked for my later years to survive the last year.

If this is happening to me for the first time in 53 years. I imagine it must be happening to other people, and as I volunteered and heard people’s stories, it was and is. 

How the Month-Long Project Surviving Food Insecurity was Born

My story is how this project came to fruition. I needed to acknowledge it is ok to ask for help. Yes, it is super scary, but it is also super easy, and the road is paved with fantastic, kind, and generous people. 

How to Survive Food Insecurity

Tomorrow I start on this journey of Surviving Food Insecurity. Today I do a little planning. 

Lesson # 1  Finding Food. 

There are two resources I will share with you today that will help us find food to eat. The first is the aforementioned Food Soldier. Follow her on Facebook. The second is mapping out where to get food and the process. I will do this on Sundays using Freshtrak. You just put in your zip code, and a wealth of food options come up. Over the next month, I will share videos and recipes, and I will show you the food you get. And maybe most importantly, I will show you how a sense of community and caring can make it, so no one is hungry or alone in this world. There will be blog posts, Facebook posts, and Instagram photos I may even tweet some! Follow along, please, and share because we are all in this together!