I’m a food drive representative with my beautifully ripe-and-ready-to-give-birth colleague for my department at work. Potentially it could be a groan of a task, but, as communicators, we’re to coax nonperishable foods out of our colleagues for the next few weeks for the Hawaii Foodbank. Today I am going to talk a little bit about it at our department meeting. It got started last week, so this is more like a coaching talk. The gal in charge of the entire company effort, who is also in our department, kicked it off last week with a true battle-cry style oration. You could tell she was this close to tears.
The team that brings in the most food, which we weigh, and writes the most checks, which we add up, wins a catered tailgate party for lunch by Grant Simms of Big G’s Catering, who was originally a chef with Sam Choy’s Diamond Head restaurant before striking out on his own. HMSA folks LOVE his food! But that’s not the only reason we should try to win.
Life is good for each of us who are employed, have a home, have loved ones, friends, and food in the refrigerator. I would bet that I’m not the only one who has spent some part of life surviving on a lousy diet of ramen, saimin, hot dogs, Spam and rice. I’ve done the ketchup in hot water thing, too. I’ve also lived in a Palolo basement with my clothes hanging from the pipes and the hard-dirt crawlspace just a few feet away from my bed. If there was a potluck at church, I’d go to eat because I couldn’t afford to make something to bring. I got chewed out for that by a church member. I don’t go anymore. (Issues, LOL)
None of that means I really know what it is like to go hungry or to be homeless. I’ve been unemployed, but I’ve been always protected from the elements by those who love me. While living in that basement, I might have qualified as a hidden homeless person. Apparently, there are a lot of hidden homeless people in Hawaii.
These days, there is an abundance of food in my life. If it were a crime to dump food that has gone bad, I’d be behind bars. Because of the busy-ness of life, I’ve missed expiration dates on dairy products, let bread grow moldy, and have let culinary mistakes culture in the back of the fridge. If I made a dish that was enthusiastically gobbled up by my family, I’d make it again, too soon, and then it would fester.
So part of our commitment to the hungry in Hawaii should include making a conscious effort at resisting the urge to buy too much of what you think is a good thing. Try shopping like a spartan: buy a few fresh things for one or two meals, create something that’s great the first night and great for lunch the next day, and leave it at that. Eat off smaller plates, cook in smaller batches, emphasize fresh and colorful fruits and vegetables, minimize the fats, savor lean proteins. The result is less waste at home, more food left at the grocery store or farmers market for others, an economic savings for you, and a healthier family.
When you reach into your cupboard with the idea that you’d like to contribute to the Hawaii Foodbank drive competition by donating big and heavy cans of food, check the expiration dates. Don’t donate expired food or buggy rice, flour or pasta. Sure, you might kick yourself for letting it sit there all that time, but if you wouldn’t eat it, why should you expect someone else to eat it? Because they are poor?
Give what is good, give what is useful, give comfort food, give something you like. I’m not going to donate the jar of grape leaves in my cupboard, but I will donate something substantial like a big can of crushed tomatoes, pineapple chunks or black beans. Imagine what you donate being eaten. Imagine someone getting what you donated and making a meal out of it for their family.
We have to look out for each other in the best ways we are capable.