Stop Donating Food You Hate to Poor People

groceries‘Tis the season when those who have the means (and frankly, the heart) donate to food drives. Granted, we should be keeping families, especially kids, who go hungry in mind all year long.

There are 13.1 million children under 18 in the United States who live in households where they are unable to consistently access enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life (per Feeding America). They need our help all year long, but we are an imperfect society. We tend to wait until there’s a holiday staring us straight in the face to remember that those of us who are lucky enough to have dinner on the table every night should be sharing the wealth.

So here we are. The holidays are upon us, and there are boxes set up in the banks, the post offices and right at the grocery store with huge signs marked “food drive.” What better time than the present to do something for someone else?

But let me just stop you for a second. Were you about to hit your cabinets, to poke around for the cans and bags of food you bought with good intentions but never actually used? I hear you. It’s tempting to divest yourself of the purchases you have no use for because if you won’t use it, surely someone else will.

Perhaps they will. If it will go to waste sitting on your shelves, there’s no harm in pulling it from the cabinet and dropping in in a bin. To borrow from Shakespeare and then some, food is food is food.

But let’s face it, we’re talking about food you bought and never used because the idea was a whole lot better than the execution. Were you trying a health kick that you could never quite carry through on or a cleanse that seemed like a good idea at the time? If you bought it and never used it, chances are pretty high that it will not to be used by someone else. These are items you didn’t really want so much as you thought you should want them.

Someone who is in need of a little help, especially around the holidays, doesn’t need the items you bought on a whim. They need the basics of daily life, the pastas and soups, the solids that make a meal a meal. They need foods that make them feel whole and comforted.

If you want to give this season, stop and think about what you want to give. Is it something they might use? Or is it something that will make them feel good,  make them feel happy and fulfilled, something that will produce smiles and comfort?

I hit the grocery store this weekend to stock up for the holiday, and I decided to add items of what I was already buying … because those are the things other people would put on their list and buy if they could.

It’s not much, but it’s something.

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