Food insecurity is a worldwide problem. Simultaneously, food waste is also a worldwide problem by individuals and businesses. The amount and the extent of food waste are difficult to comprehend. According to one estimate, about 10% of greenhouse emissions may result from methane emission from food that is produced but not consumed. There are many ways to cut food waste and many more ways to feed the hungry.
The earliest and perhaps an extreme example of feeding the hungry I remember is one set by a dear aunt. She was not rich. But one of her simple principles was that you never let who comes to your door hungry leave hungry. Not surprisingly, she was known exactly for her kind heart in the neighborhood and town. Almost every other day, a new stranger would arrive and be treated. Sometimes, she would have to restart cooking because more arrived than planned.
Violet has been involved with a local organization mostly staffed by volunteers in our town. Through her, I understand the complexities of a food distribution effort. Every day some big grocers and restaurants in town have a designated time for the organization’s volunteers to collect food that would be wasted. The food goes to a main collection facility from where it gets distributed to food pantries, soup kitchens, community service locations, and food cupboards across town. When I was with Violet as she was filling a cupboard on a winter day, a woman stopped by to tell her how much her wheelchair-bound brother who lives in the house nearby appreciates the food donations and volunteers.
Not surprisingly, food donations are plentiful in places near and around where we live and where the average incomes are high. So even as we ensure food security to those like us and those in closer proximity to us through religious or other organizations, some of our attention needs to go to people and places farther away.
I have been a volunteer and cheerleader at my organization for United Way — a worldwide organization that aims to help the hungry, among others. I make sure my contributions go to the poorer neighboring counties, in addition to mine. One of the county programs is to make sure that poor school children who are on free lunches on weekdays are also fed over the weekend. Studies show that children getting nutritious food over the weekend do better at school the following week.
Feeding America and Feeding India are two organizations to consider giving. Since borders are our making, going beyond our borders and giving to minimize hunger in continents far away is among what we should consider. World Central Kitchen feeds the hungry in war-torn Ukraine, and elsewhere. Save the Children benefits hungry children across the world.
From a friend in Atlanta whose family cooks meals to feed the homeless to a cousin in Aruppukottai in India who works with Rajesh Uthavum Karangal (“helping hands”) to another who contributes to the Mid-Ohio Food Collective to feed the hungry, you show the many ways we can help. There is just no reason why anyone anywhere should be hungry.
Wish you a holiday feast! Wish you also happiness and joy feeding the hungry nearby or far away.
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