When I was a kid, there were weeks when my family couldn't afford food. I remember the church leaders bringing bags to our doorstep, the look of gratitude on my mom's face. In our early years, she was a waitress and my stepdad was a real estate agent in a shaky economy.
On rough weeks, we'd go “shop” the food bank aisles. As a young child, I just thought we were at a very exclusive grocery store. The employees would bend down with me to examine the bottom shelves, happily offering snacks. It was like a miniaturized supermarket with only the cool, GOOD stuff like macaroni in shapes and colorful cereal. I was like a kid in a candy shop!
Food Drives come Full Circle: The Circle of Giving
I'll never forget the day my elementary school class went on a field trip to the food bank after some community food drives.The teachers wanted to show the kids how their actions could truly impact the lives of other people.
“Hey,” I said excitedly to our chaperone as we walked off the bus. “This is where my mom and I go grocery shopping!” She looked at me with pity. I eventually got used to that look. I eventually understood that our family was struggling.
The biggest lesson I took home that day, however, was the circle of giving. I saw that our school collected cans and boxes that ended up on these shelves and later landed in my very own cupboards. I was amazed to see that my food came directly from the generosity of others. As a six-year-old, I thought it was the neatest thing in the world!
Hosting our own Food Drives
Twenty years later, Nate and I are blessed beyond measure. We don't worry about food week-to-week. We have the luxury of being selective in our choices, looking for mostly natural options and choosing not to feed our children something if it doesn't meet our health standards. I want other families to have that option as much as possible too, so we host mini family and neighborhood food drives every year or so. We gather up our own extra food (unexpired items around the house that we never got into, or things we've been gifted but didn't use) along with our friends' unneeded canned and shelf-stable items. We usually work with a brand to donate some additional food as well.
This time around we worked with Champions for Kids and Odwalla to load up on healthy Odwalla bars at Walmart to give to Mama's Kitchen here in San Diego. Mama's Kitchen delivers food to families in the area affected by cancer, to help offset the deep physical and financial toll it can take. In the summer, this is particularly important for kids who can't rely on free meal programs that they normally get at school. Champions for Kids is working with Odwalla to raise awareness about this issue and inspire people like you and I to gather food and donate!
For families struggling with illness, I believe it's especially important to eat healthy, natural foods. I was so excited to discover that Odwalla doesn't use GMOs in their products!
The boys helped complete my own little circle of giving by unloading our collected items in the food bank. I'm proud to be teaching them these lessons at such a young age, knowing that it will help instill a compassion for their community for years to come.