October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008

I seen on another blog that today is Blog Action Day 2008 and it's topic is poverty. And I have alot to say about poverty ANY day, all day long! But today is also IWT Wed. and it wouldn't be fair to me & my wants (LOL!) or Dana who hosts this to not try to combine the two.

So I sat here and I wondered, how am I going to do that? And about 10 seconds later it hit me!

I want for every kid in the world to be able to wake up to a meal like this -

photo by Alicia Solario

Sadly this won't happen. I personally know kids who during this month will NOT wake up to a meal at all. These kids go to school just to be able to eat. And although their little bellies will growl and ache there will be little relief for them till the monthly food stamps arrive.

And although you would think that all the problems would be solved because of this -- it's not true. Because most of those families generally get about $500-$600 a month (here's a chart to show) which breaks down to about $5.50 to $6.50 a meal for families of 4-6 people.

There are alot of great sites and books to help give a person how to spend that amount on a good healthy meal, but sadly most of these people don't have the opportunity to see these. (some linked below)

But that's the figures before those families do things that are "hushed" such as trade food stamps for cash so they can pay bills. I don't think this is right, not at all! But I also understand too. Usually the cash actually goes to pay for must haves like rent, utilities, or household supplies. I understand because sometimes money just doesn't stretch the way you need it too. And not everyone has a family member to help like I do (thankfully!).

Most of the time ideas of how to help out families such as the ones I've described are great. These ideas usually include donating food or money to local food banks, the salvation army, or your church. And these families usually depend on this food to help feed their families when times are tough.

But a note on this also. Check out all these places thoroughly. And I don't mean for mishandling of funds - this is probably not going to happen. I'm talking about check out how these things are distributed. See if you qualify by their standards and what the rules are -- sometimes you'd be surprised at what you will learn.

At one food bank I visited ANYONE can get a bakery order at anytime. I have seen well known business owners trot in there to pick up their 3 bags of bakery goods that are day old from the local grocery store (valued over $45). No identification or form necessary. Just sign on a log sheet your name and how many in your household (most are families of 1 or 2).

Yet in order for a family in need to get a regular food order they have to go to a different office, fill out a form, show 2 forms of identification, then receive a slip, go to the food bank and FINALLY get a food order. And for a large family that food order will consist of only 2 bags of bakery goods. And yes I've asked if it's possible for a family to pick up a food order and a bakery order at the same time and they said no. Oh and did I forget to mention you can only go get that food order once every 90 days and they DO keep a log?!!!

And I've also been to food banks and seen them hand a family of five the same size box of food as they do a family of one. You can get food orders there without a form or identification every 30 days.

The amount of places that give out expired food is very high. Or places that go to the trouble to give you toilet paper or tooth brushes and tooth paste but didn't make sure to give you the things to make a meal that will be healthy enough to need either. You wouldn't believe the number of places that will give you peanut butter and jelly but no bread. Or give marshmallow creme or condensed milk, what are you going to do with that with short funds? Or give bunches of random items which are all great but no meat or protein of any kind - everyone needs protein!

Don't get me wrong with what I've said here. When someone is having problems they should find a way to correct it themselves and not depend on others. They definitely should not be picky, but be grateful for the help they do receive. And most of the time people are not picky and are grateful and do try to correct the situations that they can.

But anytime someone can also make things easier on these people in need it's helpful.
  • And if that means going in and making sure the "officials" are doing what their supposed to do, then by all means do it!
  • Maybe you can go join on the volunteer committee so you can try to correct the small problems, plus then you also can see immediate results from your helping hand in the happy (or at least relieved) faces who receive that food order.
  • Maybe you could just offer up a suggestion to help correct a procedure -- like suggest a expired foods table that people can choose from rather than it being thrown at them.
  • Maybe you could go solicit funds or donations from local businesses -- like a local grocery store or bakery for their day old goods.
  • Or even offer to put together a hints, tips, and recipes sheet to be added to each food order. Something like this could be printed up in bulk by asking a local print shop to do it for a discounted price or for free to "do their part".

You would not believe the number of businesses and people that will help out and donate if you go to them and just ASK! oh and it helps if you have a idea of how just in case they don't =)

Just never do something blindly - always be intelligent and diligent in ANYTHING you do. It makes more of a difference, really.

oh and no matter how your help is received or refused don't be offended. sometimes no matter what you try to do or say it doesn't help, but at least you tried.