It was my noblesse oblige that brought me to the grocery store, and duty is never fun. The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) is holding its annual Food Drive this Saturday, May 14th.
Sigh. So I went to the supermarket to find some canned goods to leave in my mailbox. That’s when the conservative side of me began to grumble. “These poor people,” my inner voice whined, “have often made bad choices. They’ve gotten mixed up with drugs and alcohol. They’ve committed crimes. They’ve made stupid career decisions. And now, I’m supposed to feed them?”
The liberal side of me began clearing its throat to say something guilt-inducing in response. But I shushed both of these voices. There was something deeper and more distant stirring within. My own childhood.
I grew up poor. And it was mainly because my parents (and stepparents) made piss-poor decisions. I never went hungry, but some of the food I got was barely palatable. In those days, a food commodities program existed for helping the needy. My mother would sometimes take us down to a government food bank, where we would be rationed various packages of low-quality comestibles to haul home and figure out how to cook.
There were mystery meats in cans with white, generic labels. There were bags of sour tasting raisins. There were containers and containers of pinto beans, corn meal, and other assorted staples. All low-quality. Some laced with weevils. But it was mostly edible, and kept the meat on our bones.
It wasn’t my fault that I was poor. That was the doing of my foolish parents. And it’s the same today. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP), 22% of all children in the United States today, live in poverty. That’s more than 16 million kids. And none of it is their fault.
No, it’s not their fault that they’re poor. Sometimes it’s not even their parents’ fault, though all too often it is. Regardless, these kids can’t help their circumstances.
When I focused my thoughts on the children who will benefit from the NALC’s Food Drive, my mood brightened. I liked the idea that children would be consuming some of the food I was buying. Now I was on a mission I could truly enjoy. I focused on foods that I liked when I was a kid, during the occasional times when we could afford better fare.
And it wasn’t very expensive. I loved refried beans when I was a kid. They don’t cost much. So I took some off the shelf. I also found some sweet creamed corn, and some sloppy joe sauce. And as I was leaving I spotted some Kraft maccaroni and cheese. One of my favorites, as a kid. So I grabbed a few boxes.
All-in-all, I only spent about 13 bucks. I wish I could do more. I wish I could feed all the poor kids in this world. But we have to be practical about these matters. (That’s my conservative voice coming out again.)
We all have our own charities, so I won’t ask you to do what I did. But if
you’re looking for a way to put a smile on your face, I recommend it. Get down to the grocery store and think about children while shopping for food. Leave it in your mailbox this Saturday.
You’ll be smiling all the way home. 🙂