First of an occasional series about Family of New Paltz.I've spent some time at Family of New Paltz helping out recently, and I've gained a broader perspective on all the food drives held during the year to benefit them. I've been a pretty typical donor to those drives, I think: I look in my pantry for stuff that we haven't eaten and probably never will and toss it in the collection bin. I've learned a few things about how Family (and probably other food banks) operates which will inform my donations, and might even change my philosophy on people in need.
Crisis in Timing
Family of New Paltz gets a big chunk of food every month from a food bank service, but this month the timing sucks. The food bank is involved indoing an inventory that will keep Family from its regular pickup until late September. Typically the regular food drives are enough to supplement what they get, but August was a light month, with only one drive by the Green Party, and even though they were packed to the gills last week, most everything's gone now. August is a time of vacations, so I doubt there's ever a lot of drives in August. And this year, of course, a hell of a lot more people are out of work and looking for help. The end of the month always sees a spike in demand, because Family only gives out emergency food every 30 days to the same people, so typically those packages are picked up when the food stamps have already run out.
Dare I say it? It's the perfect storm in hunger?
What to do?
If you want to know all the reasons why I think Family and organizations like it should have to be providing food to people, stop me in the street. You'll probably condemn me as a heartless conservative, but I'll tell you what I think. However, if you think you'd be nodding along with me as I go on my rant, read on as I try to convince you that now's the time to do a little more.
The economy's in the crapper, not because the Republicans free market deregulation old-boy-network system didn't work, but because they didn't have the guts to let the cycle finish because some companies are "too big to fail." Yes, I believe that George W. Bush's biggest economic mistake was demonstrating that he's not a conservative, doesn't have faith in the American people, and doesn't believe that capitalism actually works. There are no atheist in foxholes, they say, and apparently there are no free market economists in a recession. The Great Recession was lengthened and deepened by a failure to stick to solid Republican values when they were needed most. So if you're conservative, if you're Republican, and if you were secretly disgusted with Bush, please recognize that many people are now down and out because he ran the Republican philosophy into the ground. It's not your fault that many people believe that Republicans are soulless and uncaring, but it's up to you to show them how wrong they are. I know you believe in individual responsibility, as do a lot of people that were screwed by this recession, so take responsibility for paying it forward by buying a couple of things and dropping them off at Family.
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What food do they need?
I've always held the attitude that beggars can't be choosers, but I have to call shenanigans on myself here. If we all take the creamed corn out of the pantry and buy a box of spaghetti, there's going to be a lot of badly-balanced meals out there. I've seen the kitchen there, and I have asked the staff what's most needed so you can get a better idea of what to give.
- Meat. Do you buy meat in bulk, either delivered to your house or from Sam's Club or just when it's on sale? Grab a steak or some chicken legs from your freezer. Every food package is supposed to have some meat in it, and even giving only one piece to a family the stuff always goes fast.
- Vegetables. Many area farms donate extra fresh produce (the Gardens for Nutrition even has a plot that volunteers tend just for that purpose), so during the summer there are days when there's lots, but of course they don't keep. Canned vegetables are a great supplement to those donations.
- Fruit. Canned fruit never stays on the shelves.
- Cereal. Every emergency food package should get a box of cereal, and does if there's any around. People generally donate stuff that's a little more nutritious than Froot Loops, which I'm sure is a disappointment to the kids but generally better for their teeth.