Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Turkey what if's

I've just wrapped up my final Thanksgiving turkey drive as a food bank director.  Foodshare distributed nearly 20,000 turkeys and all the trimmings to families in need here in greater Hartfod this past week.  I'm sure similar efforts were going on at the churches and food pantries in St. Lawrence County and that many families will be sitting down to a traditional turkey dinner tomorrow.

Cause of celebration, of course, and yet this blog entry at Children's Health Watch, "Of Turkeys and Taxes," along with my friend, Joel Berg's Facebook status update: "This week, above all, let’s be clear that the answer to U.S. hunger isn’t more food drives or turkey give-aways but more jobs, higher wages, and a stronger government safety net," brought home the mixed feelings I always have at this time of year.

Yes, it's great that the public has come through with enough turkeys to make sure that every family that requested a little help has that traditional Thanksgiving meal. But what about next week, next month, and next year?

What about the summer months when the needs are even greater than in the winter?

When will the day come that local food pantries announce a smaller need or maybe even close their doors because their services are not needed any more?

It's not that I'm ungrateful for the outpouring of support!  It means a great deal to me personally to be able to lead the effort help low-income families have a special holiday meal. After all, we all have things to be grateful for, no matter our current situations.

And the people who receive those meals are grateful. Here's just one response we received at Foodshare this week:

“I want to sincerely express my gratitude for Foodshare. I was completely blown away by the Thanksgiving bags I received yesterday. I would not be able to put on a dinner for my 2 kids otherwise. I'm tearing up right now. Everyone was SO KIND and everything was SO well run... my heart is so very full and grateful. Thank you endlessly for all you do. It is my sincere wish to someday return the favor by volunteering once I'm able. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”

But wouldn't it be great, if, one of these days, we could actually slow down, or even stop running these food drives because we had figured out, as a civilized society, how to make sure that everyone has access to enough healthy and affordable food?