I was reading this article: http://www.newsweek.com/2010/11/22/what-food-says-about-class-in-america.html which is all about how healthy, organic food is something that is not really affordable for everyone. It's another example of how health care is not available to everyone, even the simplest form of trying to take care of yourself. For those of us who are better off, we have the choice to shop at Whole Foods or other grocery stores with healthier and more selective options. While Americans who are struggling to make ends meet are often facing not just access to healthy food but also the inability to afford healthier food.
As someone who places a high value on healthy food choices, it upsets me deeply to think of people who are not only hungry, but also people whose only choice is to buy cheap and unhealthy food. We should all be more critical of our food systems and the politics behind food distribution and food industry subsidies. Why should vegetables be more expensive than soda? Health care is a hot topic. If everyone had the same access and ability to afford healthy food, how far would that take us in terms of preventative health care?
Stepping off the soap box for a minute. What can we do to help? Besides educating ourselves and becoming involved with organizations who are helping to create change, we can also help the immediate need with donations.
So if giving food this time of year is part of your holiday tradition consider these ideas, and if giving food is not part of your tradition consider making it one.
- Give healthy foods that pack a nutritional punch; canned tuna or wild salmon in water, dried blueberries, walnuts, whole grains like rolled oats, brown rice or popcorn, green tea, canned beans or lentils, nut butters, extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil are all non perishable and healthy options.
- Ask your food bank if they will accept donations of non perishable items, most do. Frozen meat or fish and fresh vegetables are a critical need.
- If you are part of a CSA or order Door to Door Organics, contact them to see if you can purchase a share or box to be donated to the local food bank. They may already have a system in place to deliver there.
- If you don't have time to shop, donate money to a food bank. Most food banks have the ability to stretch your dollar further than you can because of their non-profit status and bulk buying power.
- Give all year long. Food banks have needs throughout the year for donations, not just during the holidays. During the summer months needs can be even greater since kids are out of school and parents may be struggling to provide three meals a day instead of one or two.