Saturday is a day when many get extra “stuff” done to include shopping, car washing, tennis, golf, little league and so much more. However in some inner city food deserts, Saturday is a day for residents who are poor to line up to receive a little hope, packaged in three cloth shopping bags filled with food. These three little bags represent their sustainability. The food is a gift from the local Feed America organization and supplied by local grocers and bakers.
Our Rotary club members gathered at an inner-city community center to help distribute food to a segment of America that is rarely seen. The community center parking lot was shaded by big beautiful old trees that kept our perspiration to a minimum. The lovely physical setting was a juxtaposition to the task at hand. Hunger is ugly! Our assembly line was efficient and effective. We knew that some food items would be unfamiliar to those receiving them. We could also tell that some of the most coveted items were also the least nutritious.
Occasionally, we saw a baby sleeping while curled in her mother’s arms. We watched that mother find a way to manage both her baby and the food bags. Basic needs overshadowed the degree of difficulty. It was obvious that whatever strength bodies could provide had to be enough. One man said thank you by inviting us all to dinner … sometimes humor is the only way to manage pain.
Consider this: food desserts are not all located in the inner cities.
On a gold-gray morning in Mitchell County, Iowa, Christina Dreier sends her son, Keagan, to school without breakfast. He is three years old, barrel-chested, and stubborn, and usually refuses to eat the free meal he qualifies for at preschool. Faced with a dwindling pantry, Dreier has decided to try some tough love: If she sends Keagan to school hungry, maybe he’ll eat the free breakfast, which will leave more food at home for lunch.
Dreier knows her gambit might backfire, and it does. Keagan ignores the school breakfast offered and is so hungry by lunchtime that Dreier picks through the dregs of her freezer in hopes of filling him and his little sister up. She shakes the last seven chicken nuggets onto a buttered baking sheet, adds the remnants of a bag of Tater Tots and a couple of hot dogs from the fridge, and slides it all into the oven. She’s gone through most of the food she got last week from a local food pantry; her own lunch will be the bits of potato left on the kids’ plates. “I eat lunch if there’s enough,” she says. “But the kids are the most important. They have to eat first.
It’s a cruel irony that people in rural Iowa can be malnourished amid forests of cornstalks running to the horizon. Iowa dirt is some of the richest in the nation. I believe the first essential component of social justice is adequate food for everyone. Food is the moral right of all who are born.”
“Food is national security. Food is an economy. Food is employment, energy, history.”
I invite you to join the conversation. Fill your words with hope and share them.
 Tracie McMillan is the author of The American Way of Eating and a Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University.
 Jose AndresUntil next time, remember,
You are not alone.
You are not your circumstances.
You have everything within you to live a purpose-filled life.