Pinching Pennies at the Food Bank

November 4, 2011 at 4:15 PM Leave a comment

Well, it’s Friday so that means I spent most of the day volunteering at my local food bank.

As I’ve reported over the last few weeks, the shelves are almost bare of the basic foodstuffs we’ve historically (I’ve volunteered there for almost three years) had plenty of, like canned beans, canned chili, tuna and canned fruit and veggies.  According to the food bank manager, there is just a huge nation-wide demand for food that goes to food banks right now, so here we are.

Not only that, the price of some staples, particularly peanut butter, has increased roughly 30% in just the last few weeks so even things that some food banks bought locally are unaffordable now.

That said, one of the chores I did today was to go to the local grocery store to buy a few things — but as many of each of them as I could find.  The first item was cereal, preferably raisin bran, and I couldn’t spend more than 99c per box.  Yippee, I found some at that price but, drat, they only had about 30 boxes.  I bought all of them. They’ll last about two days.

The second thing I needed was canned beans — anything but pork ‘n beans, which we had a few cases of — and I couldn’t spend more than 68c per can.  Yippee on that score too!  I found some kidney beans and some “white beans” for 69c each.  Yeah, it was a penny over but I cleaned them out of that too.  I probably bought 90 cans.

Then is was on to that old college friend, ramen.  I was supposed to keep that to 17c each but the store was selling them for 20c. Screw that.  I made an executive decision to go ahead and “splurge” and I bought six 24-count boxes.

All in all I spent just over $100.00.

Imagine going to the store and having those kind of restrictions on your spending and on your selection. I tell you, it’s been a real eye opener for me.

Anyway, after filling my trunk, driving back to the food bank, unloading the trunk and putting the food on the shelves, the place looked a little better but again, it won’t last.  And it is so heartbreaking to offer the same boring food to people week after week.  Yes, the dairy and fresh veggies tend to vary but the basics, the canned goods, the bread and the pastas are the same month after month.  (Except, that is, when a school or business decides (bless their hearts!) to hold a food drive and unusual and fun things come in.  I love those days.)

So, the moral of this story is that when you hear the wingers complaining about lazy people who “choose” to be poor because they can live off of government handouts instead, know they have no idea what the hell they’re talking about.  There is no way in the world anyone who says that could have spent so much as a second in a food bank.  Who would choose to eat exactly the same thing week after week after week?  Why would a person who can’t afford a car “choose” to lug heavy bags of food back home on the damn bus? Why would a disabled person who essentially lives in their wheel chair choose to have to limit the amount of food they can take because the only way they have to carry it is in the little pockets of the wheel chair?  Huh?  Who would “choose” that?

It’s amazing what I see.

Nobody would choose that hard and dreary a life.


Entry filed under: At the Food Bank.

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