Have you ever been hungry and unable to buy food? Have you ever been without money to buy food and had to call on family, friends, a local church, a food pantry, or stood in a food line? If you have, then you know what it is like for nearly 49 million Americans today. In the state of Indiana where I live, 1 out of every 6 children are hungry. YIKES!
Why is this happening? The causes are too numerous and too complicated to reduce into one statement. There are many reasons such as: Unemployment, Underemployment, Lack of Resources, Lack of Knowledge, etc. But one thing is very clear, BEING HUNGRY is very real in America and it is very real in every American community too. That is right, somewhere nearby where you are at right now, someone is hungry.
Many food pantries only offer boxed dry goods and canned goods that are full of preservatives, artificial ingredients, and lack real nutrition (enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and living foods). I was really saddened to see a food outreach ministry last October that lacked any source of fresh nutrients for the needy. Once a month the food pantry opened its doors to the local community and it provided boxed pasta, canned vegetables and canned fruit, boxed dried potatoes, a small jar of peanut butter, one box of cereal, one bottle of apple juice, and a can of tuna for families. It may have equalled about $30 of boxed/canned food groceries for a family.
DO WHAT? I was horrified. Is this all that poor hungry Americans are eating? They stood in line awaiting their names to be called. No one looked happy. No one was joyful. The room was very somber. The room was filled with hungry needy people, over 300 families were represented. But this is all they were given. This particular food pantry, and I am guessing many food pantries across the nation offer little nutrition for folks to survive on.
I understand the challenges of keeping and offering fresh and frozen produce and risks of spoilage and overstocking. But wouldn’t those risks be worth it to actually feed people? Don’t we want to feed people so they can live life to their fullest potential and so they can be healthy, instead of dead food that does not provide nutrients for their bodies? Perhaps the food being offered may even be making people sick? I have learned enough about boxed man made food full of preservatives to know this is not something we should be feeding people and definitely not expect them to have any quality of life if they have to live on it longterm which many of these families do.
Not only were they hungry, many were sick too. I knew many were sick from a lack of nutrition. It broke my heart. I sat in that room and prayed “God what can I do to help?” It came to my mind how wonderful it would be to grow a garden and supply fresh salad greens and cooking greens for local food pantries. Also, in addition to access to fresh vegetables and fruits, folks need recipe ideas so they can use up what is being provided from the food pantry in a healthy way. Why can’t food pantries also offer a freezer meal day, when hungry folks come together, assemble a months worth of freezer entrees. Give them the ingredients, and supplies, and teach them how to make up nutritious meals they could store in their freezer if they have one, and easily heat in a crock pot or oven when ready. I think food pantries across the nation could start up free CSA with the needy in their local community.
What about free gardens and orchards? Can you imagine every park in your community, and empty spaces every few blocks through out town, planted with FREE GARDENS? Can you imagine fresh salad greens and cooking greens available at local food pantries?
People need nutrients. LIVING LIFE GIVING ALL NATURAL NUTRIENTS. It cost to much to buy these nutrients at the stores today. Partly because it is all shipped in from across the country and out of season and the costs are sky high.
Seriously not even I can afford good quality nutrient dense foods at the stores lately. I am feeding a family of 8 people and it costs an unreal amount to buy fresh nutrient dense food for our family. I am also limited on storage space at this time, and wish I had a second freezer, and a root cellar full of winter produce and crocks of fermented foods, and a greenhouse /hoop house for winter gardening, and I wish I had put up 10 times more food for the winter from my own garden, but I didn’t. But it is possible for each of us to learn how to do this, and empower our selves and our neighbors to eat healthy living foods.
This is a dream of mine, to grow fresh gardens for the needy. I want to use the farm to feed and educate folks who want to know how to grow their own food and help themselves. Then for those who want to learn, have them come and help in the gardens, and learn. I want to head over to their homes and apartments and help them start gardens in their own yards or on their balconies that are easy to care for. Give them everything they need to get started and help them start it. Teach them in a hands on way. It doesn’t have to be a big overwhelming garden to bring them fresh nutrients. It they have the room in their yard, we can plant a bigger garden, or if they only have space along a flower bed we can put it there. It can be something as simple as a small planter box on the balcony that can grow fresh salad greens and herbs or a jar on the kitchen counter that can sprout seeds to provide fresh nutrients for a salad, soup, or stir fry the needy can easily make.
This idea is catching on across the country. Already many restaurant owners grow fresh produce or hire a local farmer to grow it for them instead of shipping the produce from across the country. A few communities are also starting Free Forest Gardens. A forest garden is a combination of fruit trees, shade trees, and food gardens. I have also recently read about some public schools and a hospital that is growing their own produce gardens. Also many restaraunts are giving away their leftover meals and fresh produce to local food pantries and this is giving more access to real food for the needy. More of these programs are needed in each community.
I recently read this article about
food pantries starting their own gardens. What a wonderful answer to a desperate situation! If every food pantry had a garden, a green house, as well as a room for dry goods, and rooms with refrigerators and freezers for cold and frozen goods, and a commercial kitchen to teach nutrition classes and prepare some of the garden produce in, then food pantries would go along way in meeting the true needs of hunger in America, and in each local community.
If you are interested to learn more, then do a Google search for Community Forest Gardens, Apartment Homesteading, Urban Gardening, Food Not Lawns, WAPF, Real Milk, Slow Food, Local Family Farms, Eat Local, Nourishing Foods, etc. I definitely want to get involved in helping folks learn about, and have access to nutrient dense foods including seeds and garden supplies, and how to use the foods they grow. Perhaps you can help start something like this in your local community too.
We can make the world a better place by caring for each others needs, making sure programs in our communities have the resources to provide life giving foods for the needy, and perhaps planting one garden at a time, or even a large community garden or CSA to feed a families in need.
There is an old saying: “If you give a man a fish, he will eat for the day, but if you give him resources like a fishing pole and tackle, and teach him how to fish, he can eat for a lifetime and feed others in his community too.”