Did your mother say “Eat your ________, there are hungry kids in __________” at the dinner table growing up? It didn’t make sense to me as a child — after all, if I didn’t eat my grilled cheese in Maryland, a hungry little girl 8,000 miles away wasn’t going to get it!
Today, with my role at the Network allowing me to know all too well how families right here in our community sometimes do not know where their next meal is coming from, I got to thinking about how much my own family takes for granted that we can open the refrigerator to find all the food we would need and want. Because of this, we often find a half open jar of salsa or a few rotten apples getting tossed in the trash because we just didn’t get to it.
Last month, I challenged my family to track our food waste by writing items we tossed out on a list posted to the refrigerator. We all committed to this and by the end of the month, I am embarrassed to say, there were 50 items on that list – FIFTY! The items ranged from a handful of mushy blueberries to large containers of unopened soups that had expired. I was reluctant to admit this level of food waste as someone who leads an organization centered around food insecurity, but I felt it was important to show that no matter how passionate we are about an issue, we all have room for improvement.
I want to challenge you and/or your family, as supporters of our cause, to track food waste habits with me in the new year. Use our downloadable chart to help you. Put a copy of this chart on your refrigerator and talk to your family about jotting items down on it – and make sure there is no judgment to ensure honesty! We found at the end of the month that every member of my household had a part in food waste.
After this challenge, we were all inspired to make some changes – instead of grabbing the fruit cup from the pantry, we made sure we ate the fresh fruit so it didn’t go bad. When we were tempted to order pizza for delivery, we realized that we had sauce, cheese and crust in the house we could use to make our own. There were so many benefits – healthier eating, cost effectiveness, and a general sense of gratitude for the food we have at our disposal.
Join us in the activity! And email us to let us know you’re in, so we can send you a Student Support Network pen to use with your chart! We’d love to know your results — both by the numbers and by the impact on your family! Good luck!
Rina Rhyne, Executive Director