I Need to Do More

World Food Day

I’ve had this post written for some time. I’m not sure why I didn’t share it until now, but the fact that today is World Food Day felt like the most appropriate time to finally share it.

World Food Day is today. It is ‘celebrated every year around the world on 16 October in honor of the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1945.’ It is a day held to bring to light the issues around food hunger, poverty and tackling global hunger.

Here is my original, {finally published} post……

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It hit me like a punch to the stomach.

Seeing the little girl, who looked no more than 10 years old, get out of the taxi with a big bag under her arm, have a conversation with the taxi driver, I suspect to tell him to wait for her, while she proceeded to walk into our local Guelph Food Bank.

Watching this. As a mother. As a person who works in the ‘food sector.’ On a beautiful, random Thursday morning. Where were her parents? Knowing she was sent to the food bank on her own.. in a taxi. So many questions.. how, why….

I unfortunately see instances like this all too often. Blake’s daycare is located near the Food Bank here in Guelph. I see how on certain days of the week, the parking lot is fuller than normal. Cars that look like yours and I’s. The line-ups this fall that seemed longer than normal. People getting out of the cars or standing in line up who look just like you and I. Our friends, our colleagues, our family. These people, I assume, are waiting in line outside of the food bank to pick up food once it opens.

For some reason, seeing this little girl and the taxi really hit me.

After seeing her, I automatically called Andrew in tears… telling him we need to do more.

Back a few years ago, Andrew and I volunteered for a day at the food bank. They appreciated the help as they were short volunteers at a busy time of year, around Christmas. Seeing not only the amount of food that was needed/required at the food bank, but the people waiting in line, has forever changed the way I view the food bank and its importance in our community.

For most of us, the thought of not having food is something we don’t think about… because we don’t have to worry about accessing, purchasing and eating the food we want too.

Its almost just a ‘right’ now that we all expect. As if food is and will always be there for us as we need it. We complain about how expensive food is, while we continue to eat out more… we discuss animal activism and we talk about the latest food fads/trends like organic, non-GMO or avocado on toast. They really are ‘first world problems’ when you put it into perspective.

…. while other people just want food. Any type of food.

I keep thinking back though to those University classes discussing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and how if you don’t have the basic necessities of food, water and shelter, you can’t satisfy your needs to continue to other levels to satisfy personal fulfillment of things like jobs, friends and of course, what we all strive for - true self actualization.

Just over the recent holidays, I had this same conversation with family and friends, telling them about the food bank near Blake’s daycare. I reminded friends and family that after the twice a day drop off/pick-up’s I do with Blake, I see the people accessing the food bank…. and they are you and I.

We all have preconceived notions of who these people are that are accessing food banks - ‘what these people look like’ and ‘who these people must be’ if they can’t afford food.

And I can tell you, that simply judging by looks, these people waiting in line up are not who you’d suspect.

They don’t look like people who’ve necessarily had ‘troubles’ and/or ‘are living on the street.’ I know that is what you first thought.

These people look like you and I - middle class people who perhaps have good jobs but that say a basic income of $35,000 doesn’t allow them to afford the food they need. These people have toddlers like Blake, they are colleagues we work with, or the friends we may not assume have any troubles but do.

These people using the food bank are you and I.

What this experience made me ask myself and something we all need to ask ourselves on a day like today when #WorldFoodDay is trending and we may not understand what it is, is what are we doing? What are we doing to not only watch what we say about the stereotypes we place on the people accessing the food bank, but more importantly, what are we doing to help with food poverty? How are we helping our local food banks? What are we truly doing, as a public and as a government, to address food poverty issues in our very own country - a country that promotes its agriculture-food richness. Yet still has people who access food banks.

Let this stat sink in for a minute - 1 in 5 Canadians have used a food bank in their lifetime. 1 in 5! WHAT?!

What more could we do?

Could we donate money to support our local food banks?

Could we donate food to support our local food banks?

Could we volunteer with the local food bank to pack the bags and boxes that our colleagues, friends and strangers may be picking up from the food bank?

Could we get involved somehow in the food poverty discussion from a community, corporate, public or government standpoint?

Could we all be doing more? YES.

What did that Thursday morning moment teach me? I need to do more. I will be doing more.

I hope after reading this, you’ll consider doing the same.

[Side note: ironically this morning while dropping Blake off at daycare, Blake waved at one of the elderly men who was waiting outside of the food bank… and the man waved back. I couldn’t have been happier and more sad at the same time. To know one day soon I may have to explain to Blake what those people are waiting in line for… I need to do more, I will do more]

[Photo Source]