Saturday, March 14, 2009

A challenge to my readers

A front page article in yesterday's New York Times made me weep. (I've chosen not to upload the photo that ran with it because it is so very distressing. But please read the article.) It's one of the things I love most about journalism: Its ability to shake readers up and make a story personal. Agenda-setting, we call it--telling readers not what to think but what to think about.

I know that children around the world are hungry. But somehow this one image and story brought home the issue vividly and powerfully.

There are children right here in the U.S. who are this hungry, of course. Probably right in your hometown--no matter where you live.

So here's my challenge for the day: I'd like those of my readers who can afford it to make a donation--no matter how small--to an organization somewhere in the world that feeds children. It could be the U.N.'s World Food Programme, which is working in India. It could be Feeding America (which used to be called America's Second Harvest), which addresses hunger here at home. It could be Mazon, a national nonprofit agency that describes itself as a Jewish response to hunger, or any one of dozens of other anti-hunger organizations.

Give money if you can. Bring a can of soup to your local food pantry if you can't. But do something--today. And then please check back in and let us know what you've done.


Harriet said...

I'll start us off with a donation to the World Food Programme.

Rachel said...

Great post and links, Harriet. I agree: That picture is very arresting.

If you can't afford to donate and yet still want to help people in your community, another way to help is by donating some of the fruits of your garden to a local homeless shelter or food pantry. Often times these organizations aren't able to afford such luxuries, so they make do with much cheaper canned veggies and less healthy processed foods. Plants are really quite cheap -- you can usually get a six-cell-pack of most veggies for less than a couple bucks -- and all they need generally are good dirt, sunlight and occasionally fertilizer.

Anonymous said...

I donate regularly to our local food bank. Sometimes all I can do is bring a couple cans of corn, but I try to do it at least a couple times a year. I think I'll gather up something this week and take it down.

We have a neighbor who does something absolutely awesome. He goes around to all the area bakeries two or three times a week and gathers up their leftover loaves of bread. Then he takes the bread to homeless shelters and soup kitchens.

Maria said...

my family have survived on government hand outs a few years ago, so I have a little idea of how important it is to keep the poor of our country (im in the UK) fed, wether through money, food stamps or supplied food. (we had these awful tins of beef that i distinctly remember having in some form for every single main meal when i was about 7-8. My dad became disabled and was out of work for some years.)

I cried when i saw that picture. you are right. its very, very distressing. I already donate to Christian Aid, who work in countries with food shortages all over (not just that, but is it part of their work), and several of my christmas presents in the family were the form of charity donations. I will try and sort something out in the next few days. a couple of cans of soup to a food shelter sounds like a plan.

Maria said...

I would also like to add that companies in the UK are now not allowed to donate left over food to charities! It used to be that like twisties said, bakeries and supermarkets, any kinds of food shops that had left over food that was still good could get it collected. now its just CHUCKED. some companies even 'spoil' the food before putting it in the bins so people can't just take it, by throwing something like milk over it. Its pretty disgraceful. but its because its now against the law. crazy, huh?

Anonymous said...

Money is tight at the moment but I anticipate it easing in a few weeks. When it does, I will donate again.
We donate regularly to our community food bank, participate in food drives, but I would like to do more to help internationally.
That story was heartbreaking.

My husband's family is from India but he has never lived or visited there. I know that feeding our daughter is a major priority for him, while I try to have a more easygoing approach toward how much she eats. But this story reminds me that he is only one generation removed from seeing this firsthand, even though his own family had sufficient food -- they weren't weathly but were not starving. I have a bit more understanding why he worries about her getting enough to eat even though food here is plentiful. Although my parents were children during the depression, and there are certainly children here in the U.S. who don't have enough to eat, it's a different thing to have such epic, and seemingly endemic, child starvation.

Anonymous said...

The local food bank has bins at the various grocery stores around here; I try to put things in that maybe they don't get so often. For instance, I put in some candy last week. A bit of sweetness is just what we all need sometimes.

I've tried to donate some herbs that grow well for me directly to the pantry; but apparently they don't take fresh stuff from individuals. The lady at the counter took them home for herself after I said that was okay. I just had figured that fresh rosemary and sage would be welcome.

mary said...

My local food bank has been delivering bags of food to one of MY kids, and sharing with whoever happens to be hungry here and need something. I like the idea of contributing to some of those who are in serious need, further away, and will be deciding soon. Thanks for the reminder Harriet. We get so wrapped up in our own lives at times that it's easy to forget that there are others who need our help. I've used food stamps and WIC at one point in my life and food is something we should never should never stop providing.

Lisa Romeo said...

My son has been volunteering at the food pantry and he tells me they also take (and need) donations of all kinds of household products -- from toiletries to cleaning products.

They also always need sturdy bags, plastic gloves for volunteers, boxes, and other items you might not think about and possibly have around; anything they get helps make the food dollars go further.

Anonymous said...

WIC is such a sensible idea; feeding babies and kids right is simply so self-evidently both the moral and economic thing to do. I just wish it covered more things.

littlem said...
(which is fun and also addictive. You have been warned.)

Fiona Marcella said...

we;ve just had the "Comic Relief" event here in the UK and I'm very proud of my husband who donated generously to it - the films about children in africa with TB were so moving.