forum: Campaigns and Community
- Member since Fri 24 May 13
we need a better option than what the local food can pantries offer!
I'm middle-aged baby boomer and live on a limited fixed income.
(This happened after getting laid off in 2009, when my full-time corporate job was outsourced overseas...and I suddenly found myself aged out of the workforce.)
So I've returned to college after a 40 year absence to reinvent myself, and also earn my first college degree (in Communication Arts). With the inspiration I've found on campus, and after being further inspired by watching Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution...I feel the need to write this message...
Prior to being laid off, I used to be able to afford to shop at Whole Foods for most of my groceries. For two years however, I've had to resort to going to local food pantries for most of my groceries...until I had to cut back on the food pantry idea due to health issues some of their foods started to cause.
Keep in mind, that all of the pantries get food that's been donated to them. And I SINCERELY appreciate that this happens at all...
Most pantries however, have little to no fresh food to offer.
When I saw the restaurants that Jaime opened in Los Angeles and in West Virginia for his Food Revolution TV series...I wondered if such a concept could be expanded to help people who need to resort to visiting food pantries in order to help supplement what groceries they can afford to buy?
(You wouldn't believe for example, just how much food Whole Foods throws away each night in their dumpsters. They've even cut back on what they allow their employees take home, as the expiration date on a particular product, nears. And no, I don't go dumpster diving, I have friends who work for them.)
Within the past year or so IF you keep a sharp eye out, and you get to the food pantry really early so you can be one of the first in line, you can actually start to find one or two organic products that have been donated to a particular pantry. I'm always on the hunt for them whenever I need to visit a pantry for groceries. So that's a nice and positive change that I'm most thankful for.
BTW....Some food pantries you can visit once per month, one pantry local to me, you can visit every other month.
And then there's one local catholic church that has a weekly food pantry...but it's pretty cut throat in terms of clientele vs getting your bags of food stolen from by your feet, people cutting in line to get the best choice of food...when you've arrived 3 hours earlier...so you get a decent choice.
During the winter months, I don't have the extra gas to keep my car warm for 3 hours...so between college classes and waiting in a cold parking lot for hours before the weekly pantry opened its doors...I chose to go without...or wait until my month was up, to visit one of the other food pantries.
In regards to fresh produce...all the local pantries I can go to (except for the 'every other month' pantry), offer some fresh produce...ALL of which, is starting to spoil.
So you pick your way through produce that's wilted, starting to get moldy...trying to find the best that you can.
That food pantry is probably the most 'cut throat' in terms of clientele. And I'd have to arrive at 8:30am to be one of the first in line as they opened their door at 11am...to get the best pick of what they had to offer for that day.
It's not the pantries' fault that what the local stores donate to them...is spoiling produce, and meats and other products that have reached their expiration date.
(You don't want to know about the piece of salmon I once took home...that had expired 4 days before it was given to me. It was...a bit nasty... And no, had I been able to see the expiration date when it was offered to me, I would have declined the fish.)
A couple of the pantries give you one piece of meat or fish...and then it's "see you next month!".
I'm not sure where one should get the rest of one's daily protein for the rest of the month...maybe via the jars of peanut butter they hand out?
All the food pantries shove TONS of bread and pasta at you.
Sorry but I'd be 400 lbs and pretty unhealthy as well, if I ate that much bread or pasta.
(And yes, on more than one occasion, peanut butter has taken a hit on my waist line.)
The majority of the bread by the way has also reached it's expiration date the day you get it, so I've learned to stick it all in the freezer. The dry pasta of course, keeps forever.
Then you get supplemented with cans of vegetables or beans, and lots of tomato sauce.
By the way, one pantry, counts a package of American cheese slices, as your one package of protein they give you for the month.
For years I've found canned veggies to overcooked/low nutrient food ...and now I worry about the chemicals contained in the inner lining of the cans, given the recent reports coming out about same.
While I'm VERY thankful that local stores think of donating to food pantries at all...as an aging baby boomer, I'm concerned about my own health as each year passes.
I wish I could afford the supplements and even multi-vitamins I used to take...but that's winding down in my budget as well.
Mind you, I'm fortunate to have a few really good, western trained, holistically/alternative practitioners in my life.
Losing my dad to colon cancer back in 1977...started me rethinking my diet, and eating as organically as I can.
Losing my mom to heart disease and dementia back in 2004, had me fine tuning my diet even more.
The practitioner I saw yesterday, confirmed my self-diagnosis... ...that the meats and other foods I was getting at the various local food pantries, was causing a significant adult acne problem.
She feels the various additives and preservatives in the food pantry offerings, has been the culprit.
Indeed, since I shifted needed bill money to 'shopping at Whole Foods' money...my skin has cleared up for the first time in over 8 months.
I'm not writing all of this to gripe and ****.
Life is good. There is potential in every day. And if people band together, we can do great things.
Gandhi said "Be the change you wish to see in the world."
So in that light...I've written all the above to try and make a change.
I don't have children, but I can understand why Jamie lobbies so hard to get families and schools to offer healthier food options to their children.
Let's find a way to help those on a fixed or limited income, be able to eat more healthily too!!!!!!!!
I have no idea how to ask Jamie if/how he could open a couple of the restaurants he did on his program, in my area.
I have no clout with my local government. I have no pull with the media.
But some how, some way....we should be able to turn around what foods are offered at food pantries...other than over-processed, sodium laden, canned, expiring meats, and spoiling produce.
There are a few local farms in my area...one organic farm in fact. Wouldn't it be great if they chimed in and donated food to food pantries?
So Jamie...what do you think can be done?
I'm but one lone voice. And until I got laid off, I had no idea about food pantries...where they get their food, why it's the type or quality it is, etc.
While we should be concerned about our children...as they're our future...we shouldn't forget the baby boomers who got us this far.
Many of us are struggling economically. Many of us got laid off and aged out of the workforce. And some of us are still working but are either under employed or underpaid.
There's all this talk about rising health care costs, and the impact that aging baby boomers will have on the medical system. There's not so much talk about how to be proactive about our health as we age on a limited income, take preventative measures via diet and the foods we eat.
Jamie...I know you have your plate full...but...could you or your staff help in any way to highlight this issue like you did with school lunches, and help to turn it around?