Thursday, November 7, 2013

Dream Believe Imagine

My 11 year old niece had a school assignment last week that got me thinking. Her assignment was to write a paper or do an art project with the theme Dream Believe Imagine.  She and I had a long talk about how this type of assignment is subjective and open to interpretation but I started thinking…what I would write about that theme.

We talked about what it means and it lead to a funny conversation between her and I but mostly I started thinking about what do I dream and believe and imagine. I started thinking about the things that are most important, causes I believe in, and what are my hopes for the future and my mind keep going back to the same topic…food insecurity in America.

I know it’s a bizarre topic to dream, believe, and imagine about but I did, let me help you get there.

I grew up with food insecurities, in fact I was about my niece’s age. My mom, who was a single working mom at the time, had just lost her job when I realized that we may not have enough food in our house.  From the time she got laid off for 4 months food was scarce in our house. We were lucky in that we didn't go to bed hungry like many but we ate a lot of Ramen Noodles and that cheap store brand macaroni and cheese that cost 5 cents a box. I was acutely aware that my mom would not eat at times to make sure us kids had enough food each night.

Even after she got a job I was aware that we were different from my friends because while we had more food in the house there were times when we didn't. Paydays were always exciting as mom would make up the grocery list and we would have good food in the house for the next two weeks or at least for part of the next two weeks. It’s not like we ate steak and lobster but we would have hamburger and chicken those were always good times.

Eventually before the next payday we would start to run out of food again and dinner would consist of gravy on toast. Which surprisingly was one of my favorite meals if mom made it from the bacon drippings and not tuna. (It just accord to me that this may be why I make kick ass gravy). Or the cheap cans of soup that never fill you up and don’t taste good.

It’s because of this that I am acutely aware at all times what food is in the fridge and cupboard. I always know what I have and don’t have. I, to this day, just open up the cupboards and take a mental stock of what is there. (I will admit when I was single and care free I often didn't have food in my home…I had every restaurant menu in a 10 mile radius memorized. And I knew every day where I was going to have breakfast, lunch and dinner and what I was going to order so I was still taking stock of all the food I had access to).

This brings me to my niece’s assignment….I dream of time when no one in America should be hungry or worry about their next meal. I believe that if everyone donated one meal a week (nothing fancy cans of chili and a box of cornbread mix will do) we could end food insecurity. I imagine a world where people are compassionate enough to donate year round.

When you are out shopping for your weekly and/or holiday grocery shopping please consider donating a few cans to your local food bank.  They do amazing things in communities and can use all the support they can receive. If you can’t donate food items consider donating a little of your time. Or organize a food drive at your church, place of business or in your community.

I think my niece drew a picture of Africa, she dreams of going on a safari...I like her dream too.

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