Spending more time in the kitchen in the past few weeks baking cookies or busy perusing online options for food gift baskets? Tis the season! But in reality, food is our gift every day to receive and give. In this unique and challenging year, we suddenly realized that food may not always be on the grocery shelf or our variety of options was limited. We panicked, hoarded and sometimes even fought for our “right to food.” What many of us experienced in the early days of the COVID pandemic was not life threatening to our health or existence. It was only an inconvenience. For others, it’s a continuation of reality whether seen through the eyes of the restaurant owner, foodservice worker, farmer or families on limited budgets.
Food insecurity doesn’t have a “season.” How can we make an impact beyond the holidays? Here are some “return on investment” considerations for now and throughout the year:
“Two-for-One” Purchase – For your holiday (and yearlong gift) giving, buy gift certificates from locally owned restaurants or give gift baskets with locally and regionally produced food products. Not only will your recipient appreciate it but you will help community food partners.
“No Gift Wrapping Required” – Consider a contribution to Feeding America, local food banks or community shelters in honor of family and friends. For many of us, a contribution in lieu of a physical gift may have more meaning.
The 11-Month Contribution – Food donations, gifts or monetary contributions are not a “point in time” contribution. Too many times, organization or churches in which we are involved collect food boxes during the holidays. But what about the other 11 months? Food is a basic need throughout the year so changing our mindset to consider a long-term strategy is first priority. In 2021, food insecurity will rise but the solution is in our hands. What are your local strategies for meeting food insecure needs? What can you as an individual, farm or organization do to close the gap?
Give the Gift of “Thanks” – When the food chain was disrupted earlier this year, the importance of essential workers across the food system shined bright. Even though we may not see the workers in the produce field or meat processing plant, appreciate their hard work and thank all that keep the retail shelves and food orders filled. A simple “thank you” comes at no cost from our end but the “return on investment” is priceless.
As we bid 2020 farewell, may we reflect on lessons learned and seek to give the gift of food to those around us. Food is a basic need regardless of the season.