Feed Them… Baskets of Love
I’m absolutely CRAZY about this idea!
It’s an outreach project with such a huge impact, but so easy to do and with the potential to involve a whole community.
It’s hard to believe that in this country, in this time, there are actually people who don’t get regular, healthy meals every single day.
NO EXCUSE! NONE!
Child Hunger is a strong trigger for me. As a former teacher and foster parent, I know the significance that nutrition plays in the healthy development of a child. Food fuels the body that in turn fires the brain and without the daily intake of nutrients necessary to sustain both, it goes without saying that physical health suffers, which in turn affects mental and emotional health, behavior, and overall development. A body can’t function adequately let alone learn and grow!
A statistic shared by “Feeding America” from September 2017 shows that nearly THIRTEEN MILLION children face hunger in the United States today along with FIVE MILLION senior citizens! Here! In this country! In the 21st Century! Mind boggling and shameful…
While it would be an amazing feat to eliminate the problem of hunger across the country, perhaps the best way to start is to work hard at minimizing and ultimately, eliminating it across our own communities. That IS doable!
Or, as the beloved Mother Teresa said, “If you can’t feed one hundred people, then feed just one.”
Most towns, boroughs, townships have a Food Pantry, Food Bank, or similar program. And, if you watch the news, most all of them struggle with staying stocked. It is also an issue for some of the elderly among us to travel in order to take advantage of what is available and so they go without.
We are always made aware of the need for assistance in providing meals for folks who struggle around the holidays. While that is an honorable and necessary ministry, people need to eat more than Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners! What about the rest of the year?
Which brings me back to this simple project…
The Basket of Love is a collection of food products accumulated throughout the course of a year. Simply put – one food item each week to equal a basket filled with fifty-two (or more) basic choices to be delivered to your local pantry when complete. It’s easy and doesn’t require a significant cash outlay all at once because you are adding gradually over the course of a year. It goes without saying that the overwhelming majority of Americans can afford to add ONE food product to their grocery list every week!
Will your one basket solve the hunger issue in this country? Nope!
But, it will make a difference to that Food Pantry that may be struggling with a lapse in donations or that one family with hungry children that doesn’t have a single thing in the cupboard or that older individual who must decide between food or medicine that week.
Want to take it a step further? Recruit some friends or neighbors to join in or look at making it a community outreach. Do you have local organizations or sports teams or church groups that meet once a week? One food item in the basket each time equals fifty-two opportunities for someone who may be hungry to receive a much needed meal.
And, how about one step more? We all tend to think in terms of the calendar year – January to December. While I’m sure the Food Banks are grateful for offerings at any time, it would be wonderful to help keep them stocked throughout the year and not just at the holidays. If you are able to garner a commitment from fifty-two people/organizations and assign each a different start week, there will be a steady stream of baskets delivered all year long.
Make it fun! Remind one another. Involve the kids and make sure they are with you when delivering the completed basket so they understand the reason behind the project they’ve been participating in all year long and learn the importance of outreach. Promote it as a neighborhood or even school project. Do it!
There is NO excuse for hunger and remember, “there, but by the grace of God, go I.”
A few thoughts…
- Some pantries are very specific about what they will accept. There are rules by which THEY must abide when it comes to food distribution so it might be helpful to talk to someone representing your local pantry before moving forward.
- If you wish to add dry goods – pasta, cereal, flour, etc. to your basket, plan to add those things during the last few weeks and months of your year-long cycle.
- Suggested items might include: Canned goods – vegetables, fruits, beans, and especially soups – pasta and sauce – cereal, hot and cold – canned meats like tuna, chicken, corned beef, etc. – flour/sugar – peanut butter & jelly – ketchup, mustard and mayo – coffee and dry creamer – canned meals like chili and ravioli — dry goods such as potatoes, stuffing, rice, macaroni & cheese and boxed meals – snack bars/crackers/cookies – salt/pepper – pancake mix and syrup – jell-o and pudding – powdered drink mixes – water – tea – powdered milk – hot chocolate – infant formula/baby food & cereal – olive/vegetable oils & vinegar – juice – Cake/Brownie Mix and Icing (**check to see if your local pantry accepts fresh produce and add a few things, if you desire, just before dropping off your basket)
- DON’T add anything that you wouldn’t even eat yourself just because it was 10/$1. No one wants to eat pickled porcupine in pineapple sauce!!
- Check with your pantry to see if they are aware of anyone who may be incapable of traveling to receive food items and offer to deliver a basket of goodies to them. (Always go with a partner.)
- Make a list of folks who would like to participate, but for whatever reason, are not able to deliver their baskets to the pantry. Offer to do it yourself or recruit someone else to pick it up.
- If your community doesn’t have a Food Pantry, consider starting one. Actually this isn’t a project that requires a pantry at all, but it will need a larger degree of coordination in order to be successful. Maybe a local church would allow some space to store items to be packed into baskets for customizing according to need.
- Schools, churches, police departments, etc. are often aware of families/individuals in need. Although confidentiality must be respected, they may be able to offer suggestions or even act as a go-between with regard to delivery in the absence of a Food Pantry.
- Offer to act as coordinator. Keep names, addresses, and emails of those who wish to participate. Send a date for the week that each is scheduled to start with a list of suggested food items to collect, some positive reminders throughout the year, and a hearty thank you when they’ve dropped their baskets.
- Be mindful of people’s privacy and hearts. It may be difficult for some to accept something as basic as food, but if done with respect and love, outreach can have far reaching effects long after the table is cleared.