Friday, July 13, 2012

From a child's lips to the nation's ears

FORT WORTH, TX, March 30, 2010 - Children are still leading adults. Sometimes it is the result of the grown-up relinquishing control - not good. Then sometimes children lead us in all innocence to places of great learning. That is if the adult will see what the child sees.
Sami, the young daughter of my good friend Caryn recently learned that our community has a food bank. She learned that people right in her own neighborhood have little or no food at all.
Sami’s wise parents cleared a shelf in the kitchen and told her that this is what many people see when they say there isn’t anything to eat. Empty space. Bare shelves. Old Mother Hubbard.
Around this time Caryn won the use of a brand new Chevy Malibu for an entire month. She was chosen by a local dealership to drive and blog about her experience with the Malibu. Part of the prize was $200 worth of groceries from a local upscale grocery store.
Influenced by what Sami was learning Caryn decided to donate her free groceries to the Tarrant Area Food Bank. If you knew this lady you wouldn’t be surprised - even if the issue of hungry people had not come up.
Counting her blessings is a way of life for Caryn. She also wanted to give her friends an opportunity to do the same, I am honored to be one of them. Yesterday morning we gathered at the Tarrant Area Food Bank to make our donations.
Once the food was given to the bank we were offered a tour of the facility. It was fascinating. We learned that the Tarrant Area Food Bank serves 13 counties in Texas, moving over 1 million pounds of food through partner charities.
We also discovered that Texas ranks #1 for the amount of hungry people in the U.S. Texas’ ratio of hungry people is 1 in 4. This is twice the U.S. average of 1 in 8 hungry people.
The Tarrant Area Food Bank is fighting this through programs like:
Kids Café: It feeds children who receive subsidized meals at school, but cannot rely on eating dinner at home.
Backpacks For Kids: This program provides backpacks filled with child-friendly non-perishable food for those children at greatest risk for being hungry on the weekends.
Meals On Wheels/Senior Centers: Among Senior Citizens living in our area, more than 18,000 live in poverty and often must choose between buying much needed medicine or groceries.
Pet Food Initiative: Like a child, a loving owner will feed a pet before they feed themselves. Why keep the animal in times of economic crisis? Animals help us emotionally, psychologically, and socially. Pets help us to:
- Adjust to serious illness & death
- Be less anxious and feel safer
- Relax and reduce everyday stress
- Have physical contact
- Lift our mood
- Feel less lonely
- Have something to care for
- Keep active
- Have consistency
- Have better social interactions
All the above reasons are important to humans - especially when facing a critical situation.
Our group also learned of The Community Kitchen at Tarrant Area Food Bank. This school utilizes surplus food to teach culinary skills to low-income, unemployed and underemployed adults who seek jobs as cooks and chefs.
How it works: From the pamphlet from the TAFB, ”To provide groceries for the training, Tarrant Area Food Bank recovers surplus fresh and frozen foods from grocers, restaurants, hotels, and convention centers.
The Community Kitchen students convert this recovered food into meals for hungry children and adults served by the Food Bank’s network of hunger-relief charities.”
In addition to the Culinary Arts these students receive coaching for success and job retention as well as assistance with job searches.
Isn’t this amazing? These graduates often go on to work at four and five star restaurants, country clubs, and cruise ships.
This not only “teaches a person to fish”, a program like this hands them opportunity- opportunity to have the world on a platter, if they are willing to work for it. And with an almost 80% hire rate these folks take full advantage of this new lease on life.
In general, you never know how a little knowledge will affect your life. Sometimes not much, but other times a little learning will completely change the way you thing, feel, and/or live. Don’t be too proud or uninterested to learn something new.
I had just planned to support a friend whose generosity is something I wholeheartedly believe in. And as a result, what I learned increased my respect for this agency and others like it.
I can’t wait to show my kids how volunteering for one hour will help kids be able to eat. I also want them to see that it doesn’t take much to be an enormous help to the food bank. Every dollar given feeds four people. Just think of what would happen if everyone gave just a few items once a month?
A little girl wanted to know about our local food bank. Now I’m posting this information in an online column that is part of a major newspaper in the nation’s Capitol. How cool is that?
From little Sami to Washington D.C.; Some things never change. Thank God.

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Welcome! Here is the first column I sent to my editor this morning. It should be posted today or tomorrow.
I want to state for the record that unless a comment is really ugly and uncalled for I will post them. I don't care if the opinion of someone else differs from my own. I am a firm believer in Freedom of Speech and that everyone has a right to their opinions and to express them.
I also believe we can learn from others no matter how different their life experience is from our own.