Posted by: mesabimisadventures | December 1, 2011

Seriously Grandma, I Promise I’m Not Hungry

Were you aware that “love” is actually spelled f-o-o-d?

You were already if you’re related to my Grandma Klejeski or were ever a guest at her home.

Walking into the front door, the first three words that greeted me were never “how are you?” but rather “are you hungry?”  I’d stand in the doorway of the kitchen and say, “nah Grandma, I just ate lunch” and 11 times out of 10 she’d respond, “you just look too skinny, are you sure you don’t want a sandwich?”

“Seriously Grandma, I promise I’m not hungry.”

“There’s ice cream bars in the freezer.”

“Well, I might have a little room left,” snickering as I went over to the freezer to pull out the Schwan’s bars or push-ups or ice cream sandwiches.

_________________________

My grandparents never had a lot of money, but they took pride in knowing that their family and friends weren’t going to leave their home hungry.  Unfortunately, many Minnesota families aren’t able to have that same level of comfort that they did.

Feeding America estimates that 1 in 10 Minnesotans is “food-insecure” and may not always know where their next meal is coming from.  40% of those seeking hunger relief are children under the age of 18 and 35% of the households seeking hunger relief include at least one employed adult. (Source: Hunger-free Minnesota).    In St. Louis County alone, the food insecurity rate is 13.8%  with 38% of those individuals ineligible for federal nutrition assistance.

It can be tempting to dismiss these needs.  Shrug your shoulders and say, “why should I help out people who can’t get off their couch and get a job?” or “don’t I pay taxes to help out hungry people?”  It’s easy to be smug and tell ourselves that we’re supposed to be teaching people to fish, not giving them fish.  Convince ourselves that we’re morally superior because we have stocked pantries and probably waste more food in a week than they eat in a week.

Am I saying there aren’t people who manipulate the system and ARE too lazy to get jobs?  Oh heck no.

They are the exception though.  Not the rule.  And just like we all get fired up when one person’s bad behavior makes life more difficult for us (i.e., irresponsible snowmobilers), we cannot let our disdain for the few manipulative (expletive deleted) prevent us from looking out and lending a hand to all the folks that are choosing between food, rent, medications and other necessities.  Few people choose to be “needy.”  They wanted to provide for their family, but they lost their job when the economy crashed.  Or their son was born prematurely and they had already gone past their insurance maximum by the time he was 2 years old.  Or they were stay-at-home moms who were widowed early.  Or they are someone’s grandparent who lost their pension and is now struggling to make it on a limited social security paycheck while food and medicine costs keep climbing.

They are us.  They are our neighbors.  And they don’t have the basic comfort of knowing there will be food to feed themselves and their family.

Join the Hunger-Free Minnesota Movement.

Tell your friends about it.

Donate where you live.

In Northeastern Minnesota, we have the Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank that services 200 NE Minnesota and NW Wisconsin non-profit agencies, including on the Iron Range.  They accept donations of money ($1.00 = approximately 5 meals!) or food and are looking for volunteers.  You also have the option of joining the “Harvester’s Monthly Giving Club” which allows you to automatically have a donation transferred every month from your credit card or bank account.

My 1st day of giving is in honor/memory of my Grandma Klejeski, who shared her love and great cooking with me.  She is the reason I repeatedly ask guests, “are you sure you’re not hungry?”  This choice for the first day was also inspired by Aaron Brown who recently wrote about the challenges faced by the Hibbing Food Shelf.

Here’s the site for money donations – the minimum donation amount, $25, equals 125 meals!  How awesome is that?

Note: This is the first post in a series of 31 highlighting donation opportunities this holiday season.

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