There’s no more comforting feeling than unpacking the spoils of a large grocery shop. A full fridge is a sign that my family is well taken care of.
I’m lucky, I have a working refrigerator. I’m able-bodied and capable of shopping for my family regularly. I live in a home that’s free from vermin. And, most importantly, I have the funds to be able to afford to keep a stocked refrigerator and pantry.
But that wasn’t always the case, no when I was growing up. I had a somewhat atypical childhood (I wrote a whole book about it!) and the times in which I lived with food insecurity shaped much about the way I live my life and feed my family today.
While food insecurity may be part of my past, according to the USDA there are currently 14.3 million Americans living with the uncertainty that they can adequately provide nutrition for themselves and their families. In many instances, the people struggling to put food on the table aren’t who you’d suspect.
They’re young families that make too much to qualify for food assistance, but not enough to cover the rising cost of housing, transportation, childcare and food. It’s the elderly patron who puts off shopping because their fixed income or inability to get to the store safely or carry their groceries into their home.
It’s the nice middle-aged woman who asks about your kids at checkout, but is living with hoarding disorder and doesn’t have the sanitary means to store fresh food at home. It’s the family raising kids in an urban food desert who don’t have access to healthful foods.
Feeding my family, making sure that my children have fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy sources of protein and a seemingly endless supply of milk is at the forefront of my priorities.
Every time I packed up my trunk I am thankful that my kids will never worry about the freshness of their food or if they will need to worry about running out.
Taking for granted that fresh food is available is a luxury I’m grateful I can provide them with, but I will always instill in them the knowledge that not everyone is so lucky.
As we embark on a new year I implore you to think of ways you can give back to those members of your community living with food insecurity, either by donating foods that are close to expiration to local food banks, hosting community events to help your neighbors in need, or by reaching out to one customer at a time to see how you can help.
I know that feeding people is your business, but making sure our communities are taken care of everyone’s business.