When Thanksgiving rolls around, food drives and food pantry donations soar. In the season of giving, we all begin to think about how much we have and offer the extra that we have to others. But sometimes, those offerings do more harm than good. So many times people reach into the cob-webbed recesses of their cupboards selecting the can of creamed corn that hasn’t seen the light of day since 2004, or the ramen noodles left behind years ago when kids went off to college.
NPR’s The Salt nails in on the head when it talks about donating nutrient dense food in place of castaway food items or expired cans of non-perishable food. Instead, by donating kidney beans, or lentils, or canned tuna, recipients are given more healthful food options that they can actually use. With so many people struggling with diabetes and other diet-related diseases, the push towards healthy eating is truly essential across social and economic spectrums. Eating healthy should be accessible to everyone, especially those who are hungry.
Ruth Solari, interviewed by The Salt and hunger advocate with Super Food Drive states it perfectly.
The goal, says Solari, is to make healthful eating approachable and “really debunking the idea that it’s an elitist thing.”
It is time to let go of the pervasive notion that those in need should “take what they can get.” We all have the right to food, and the right to access food in a dignified way. In my opinion, dignified does not include eating the leftover unwanted goods someone else wouldn’t eat. It is time to understand that collective health is of the utmost importance across political, social, economic, and environmental lines. And at the very least, we need to understand that hunger is a plight that no person should have to face, no matter what circumstances brought them there.
“It’s not enough to fill empty stomachs . . . The opposite of being hungry isn’t being full – it’s being healthy.”
So as you are looking to give back this season, let the aged goods in the back of your pantry be, and give the gift of health. For information on how to hold a healthy food drive, check out Super Food Drive, or check out their shopping list for great items to donate. Even a donation to your local food pantry can go a long way.