Wednesday, April 01, 2009

April Food Day

My blogging friend over at a Baltimore blog called Pigtown Design (and Pigtown is an old, ethnic community of Baltimore under revitalization,) has asked fellow bloggers to acknowledge and promote April Food Day.

I am using her words, "Everyday, the news is filled with the dire news about the current economic climate and a lot of us use the blogging community to take a break from the constant drumbeat. However, we can not ignore the fact that friends and family members, and even some blogger friends have lost their jobs because of the recession.

People who never had a worry in the world now have to think about where their next meal is coming from. People who never would have dreamt that they would need help are now showing up at the local food banks. But when they get there, the shelves are bare. There is not enough food being donated to meet the sudden rise in demand. There is not enough money to buy the food for the food banks. There is not a general understanding that food banks need help to help fill their shelves.

Bloggers and their readers across the country are posting on April 1 and asking their readers to make a contribution to either a local food bank or the national food bank, Feeding America. Every dollar contributed provides seven meals or 10 pounds of food. A gift of $25 provides 75 meals. If we all post together and ask our readers to make a contribution on April 1, we can make a huge difference in our communities.

We hope that you will help us help others. The need is great and the time is now. Thank you.
April Food Blog.

I know from recent articles I've seen in the media that food banks are hurting. I would add my own reflection, as you consider a donation.

When I was in college, through the Campus Ministry, I was sent to counsel homeless women in a shelter called New Endeavors for Women. They are still there doing good work in taking homeless women, teaching them skills while in a safe environment, setting up bank accounts, and helping them find careers and places to live to rebuild their lives. I am not going to lie. The shelter was in a terrible community off North Capitol Street. At the time, there was a drug kingpin ruling D.C., living in his Momma's house, just blocks from the place.

I would head to the shelter on Sunday mornings and face down the boys on the corners, tossing hand signals for drugs. The funny thing is, as I became known in the community, I would hear my name being yelled out in greeting. One time, sitting with a friend at the stoplight at New York Avenue and Florida Avenue, car windows down, we heard my name being yelled out from the large bus stop there. My friend said, "Are they yelling for you?" Expect the unexpected. That's all I can say.

I am also not going to lie. It was depressing working there and hearing the stories, sometimes listening to lies, seeing the poverty. I remember going outside to gather some leaves for an autumn table to make it prettier, and every leaf looked diseased. The birds looked horrible. Missing feathers, misshappened. Poverty hits nature full force, too.

Often I would stay past my time and help the ladies fix lunch; all the food donated from various food banks. Again. Why lie? The food looked horrible. Boxes of bruised apples. Fungal potatoes. Things you would peel down into ongoing spirals, getting rid of the bad bits, until you were holding a golf ball sized potato in your hand. And guess what? Poor people don't want to eat a diseased, rotten potato any more than you do.

So I would say, having seen it. If you do donate, and I wish you would? Chose wisely. Even think creatively. The food banks get a ton of cans of beans (any kind of bean,) or soup. Think, what might be something...a real treat they never get...and splurge on a bag or Oreo cookies, or a bag of candy, sodas, a jar of salsa. String beans they've got, 'til they would come out of your nose. Ditto peanut butter.

People can become poor in a blink. Do not think it could not happen to you. I saw people lose their lives in a matter of two months: a husband dies or leaves them. They miss the rent or mortgage payment in two months. Already it begins, and then it spirals, very quickly: you can't make the car payment, the phone bill, the utility bills. If it gets bad enough, children are taken and the next thing you are in a shelter with a schizophrenic prostitute telling you she was a realtor (true story.) And "no" she wasn't a realtor. Visit the April Food blog. If you can spare a little, they would truly be grateful. If not, no shame. Maybe next time. I find it does the soul good, even when you might be able to donate a tiny bit yourself, despite your own worries, because it lets you retain some pride, and a sense that you, too, are part of a community, in all it's varied aspects.


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Blogger Pigtown-Design said...

Thank you so much! One of the things I always try to donate is brand-name sugary cereal. It's such a treat for kids to get that. I think I will keep my can of spotted dick, however!

1:08 PM  
Anonymous Twinkie said...

We grew up on government food. You know the white can with the black letters "BEANS" LOL

So everytime the food drives come around we try to send some stuff.

One year my boys said, "WAIT. Don't give them our chicken noodle soup. We LOVE that stuff!"

I explained to them that when you GIVE something it has to be from the heart and you have to give what YOU would want to receive if you were ever in their situation.

One of my boys immediately understood and said, "OK then we should probably give them some chili beans. Because those are my favorite."

My other son said, "OK but don't give them ALL of it."
LOL Can't win them all, right?

1:45 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

Excellent idea!

3:19 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

Already had an "April Fool's Day" blog but created an "April Food Day" blog as well for today. Thank you for the wonderful idea.

3:28 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Townie: I was glad to be a part of your drive, and here you rounded us all up, while you rushed to make a work deadline. So you gave, and then you GAVE.

Twinkie: I was taught young, as it seems you are teaching your children. We have a rich country. Children need to learn the parameters of wealth, because those cliffs can be steep. I think it's a generally acknowledged fact that there is an ever widening space between impoverishment and wealth. Chiildren need the hope of their dreams, but they need to be kept in the realms of reality as well. Little exposures don't hurt. Children are sponges and absorb and learn more than we credit them for.

Kate: Thank you for joining the participants today. I wanted to do an April's Fool piece today, but due to time constraints, and a promise to Townie, had to choose. I did spend some time this morning reflecting back to those years I worked at the shelter. Women were very generous in donating professional clothes for the women to use in finding work. But the quality of the food being given to them to eat was appalling. Many were still in shock from losing their former lives. Every bit of dignity given back to them helped.

5:10 PM  
Blogger kob said...

You are right about how fast ruin can visit. I read Hemingway in bad times because its toughness comes from war and Depression and it carries a damaging code: You win; somebody's got to lose, and only suckers worry. My favorite is To Have and Have Not. Charity is a way to keep from having a hard heart.

He wrote:

He would not need to worry about what he had done to other people, nor what had happened to them due to him, nor how they'd ended; who'd moved from houses on the Lake Shore drive to taking borders out in Austin, whose debutante daughters now were dentists's assistants when they had a job; who ended up a night watchman at sixty-three after that last corner; who shot himself early one morning before breakfast and which one his children found him, and what the mess looked like; who now rode on the L to work, when there was work, from Berwyn, trying to sell, first bonds; then motor cars, then house-to-housing novelties and specialties (we don't want no peddlers, get out of here, the door slammed in his face) until he varied the leaning drop his father made from forty-two floors up, with no rush of plumes as when an eagle falls, to a step forward on to the third rail in front of the Aurora-Elgin train, his overcoat pocket full of unsaleable combination eggbeaters and fruit juice extracters. Just let me demonstrate it, madame. You attach it here, screw down on this little gadget here. Now watch. No, I don't want it. Just try on I don't want it. Get out.

11:40 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Interesting, KOB, that he had the insight to write about the mess of a shotgun death, then went right ahead and did it anyway. He should have put on an adult diaper and taken pills, and I hope you choked on your Capt'n Crunch on that one.

I agree with you that even at your lowest ebb, you need to perform small acts of love and charity to keep an open heart...and to give you back a sense of dignity as a citizen in the world.

1:15 AM  

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