FORT WORTH, Tx. March, 30, 2010—Children are still leading adults. Sometimes it is the result of the grown-up relinquishing control,which is not good. Then sometimes children lead us in all innocence to places of great learning. That is if the adult will see what the child sees.
Sami, the young daughter of my good friend Caryn, recently learned that our community has a food bank. She learned that people right here in her own neighborhood had little or no food at all.
To demonstrate this visually, Sami’s wise parents cleared a shelf in the kitchen and told her that this is what many people see when they say there isn’t anything to eat. Empty space. Bare shelves. Old Mother Hubbard.
Around this time Caryn won the use of a brand new Chevy Malibu for an entire month. A local dealership chose her to drive the new car and blog about her experience. Part of the prize was $200 worth of groceries from a local upscale grocery store.
Influenced by what Sami was learning, Caryn decided to donate her free groceries to the Tarrant Area Food Bank. If you knew this lady you wouldn’t be surprised, even if the issue of hungry people had not come up.
Counting her blessings is a way of life for Caryn, and she wanted to give her friends an opportunity to do the same. Yesterday morning we gathered at the Tarrant Area Food Bank to make our donations.
The Food Bank people gave us a tour of the facility after we had made our donations. A fascinating experience as we learned that the Tarrant Area Food Bank serves 13 counties in north Texas.
We also discovered that Texas ranks #1 for the number of hungry people in the U.S. Texas’ hunger ratio is 1 in 4 people who don‘t get enough to eat. This is twice the U.S. average of 1 in 8.
The Tarrant Area Food Bank is fighting this through programs like:
Kids Café: Feeds children who receive subsidized meals at school, but who cannot rely on eating dinner at home.
Backpacks For Kids: This program provides backpacks filled with child- friendly, non-perishable food for those children at greatest risk for going hungry on the weekends.
Meals On Wheels/Senior Centers: Among Senior Citizens living in our area, more than 18,000 live in poverty and often must choose between buying much needed medicine or groceries.
Pet Food Initiative: Like a child, loving owners will feed their pets before they feed themselves. Why keep pets in times of economic crisis? Simple. Animals help us cope, emotionally, psychologically, and socially so we are able to:
- Adjust to serious illness & death
- Be less anxious and feel safer
- Relax and reduce everyday stress
- Have physical contact
- Lift our mood
- Feel less lonely
- Have something to care for
- Keep active
- Have consistency in our lives
- Have better social interactions
These reasons are important to all people, but especially true for people facing dire situations such as hunger. A pet can make the difference. It is not a luxury.
Our group also learned of The Community Kitchen at Tarrant Area Food Bank. This school utilizes surplus food to teach culinary skills to low-income, unemployed and underemployed adults who seek jobs as cooks and chefs.
The pamphlet from the TAFB says the mission of its program is:
“To provide groceries for the training. Tarrant Area Food Bank recovers surplus fresh and frozen foods from grocers, restaurants, hotels, and convention centers.
The Community Kitchen students convert this recovered food into meals for hungry children and adults served by the Food Bank’s network of hunger-relief charities.”
In addition to the Culinary Arts, these students receive coaching for success and job retention as well as assistance with job searches.
Isn’t this amazing? These graduates often go on to work at four and five star restaurants, country clubs, and cruise ships.
A program like this not only “teaches a person to fish,” a program like this hands them opportunity. Opportunity to have the world on a platter, if s/he is willing to work for it. And with an almost 80% hire rate these folks take full advantage of this new lease on life.
In general, we rarely appreciate how a little knowledge will affect our lives. Sometimes not much, but other times a little learning will completely change the way we think, feel, and/or live. Don’t be too proud or uninterested to learn something new.
Originally, I had just planned to support a friend whose generosity is something I wholeheartedly believe in. But as a result of what I learned, my respect for this agency and others like it only increased.
From little Sami to Washington D.C.: some lessons in life never change. Thank God.
Contact information for the Tarrant Area Food Bank:
For Claire Hickey, writing is a newly realized passion. Read more of Claire’s work at Feed The Mind, Nourish The Soul in the Communities at The Washington Times, her blog Sustenance For The Mind, and the writing group she belongs to at Greater Fort Worth Writers Group.
Join her on Facebook at facebook.com/Claire0803 and
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.