Empty Plates

“Life is mainly froth and bubble
Two things stand like stone —
Kindness in another’s trouble.
Courage in your own”

— Adam Lindsay Gordon

The caterer didn’t show up, so my plate was empty.

Yet, an empty plate was an appropriate symbol as our office’s guest speaker was Lisa, a board member for the Oregon Food Bank.

Lisa, standing fast against hunger.

Lisa was there to enlighten us on the dark problem of food insecurity here in Oregon, and across the country. Food insecurity is when a person, or family, cannot consistently get nutritious meals. The reasons vary, but in short, it comes down to being forced to make choices with limited financial resources. If the rent, car payment, or electricity bills are overdue, it’s easier to skip a few meals than to lose your home, your car, or have the power shut off.

Feeding America, one of the leading combatants in the war on hunger, has an interactive map, Map the Meal Gap, which shows the rates of individual and childhood food insecurity in the United States broken down to the county level. Click the link to see how your state and county measure up.

It’s an incredible amount of detail, but a few basic points stand out,

  • Those with food insecurity can exceed 30% of the population in some states.
  • Oregon’s rate of childhood food insecurity is the 2nd highest in the nation, touching the lives of over 85,000 children.
  • Even the “best” states, like North Dakota and New Hampshire, have rates of food insecurity hovering around 10%.
  • Food insecurity is not equivalent to poverty. Because of the cost of living in some areas, people who have trouble putting meals on the table can be well above the poverty line.

To combat that problem of hunger and food insecurity in Oregon, the Oregon Food Bank was established. Here’s a graphic of the distribution network,

But despite the efforts of so many volunteers, staff, and the resources of the state of Oregon, it’s not enough. For many – far too many – if lunch isn’t there, there is no lunch.

In addition to being a board member of the Oregon Food Bank, Lisa is also the coordinator at one of the partner agencies that helps distribute food, The True Life Church. Although I’ve written several times about their work, here are a few specifics on how people can get food.  Please share this information within your networks and churches –

  • Location – 1895 NW 169th Place, Beaverton, Oregon.
  • Emergency food boxes (1 day supply of food) – Monday & Friday 12:30-2:30pm
  • Regular food distribution (5 day supply of food) – 2nd and 4th Saturday’s from 10am-2pm.
  • Samaritan’s Kitchen – 4th Sunday of every month from 3-5pm enjoy a served dinner and a family movie.
  • To donate or volunteer, contact Lisa.

As my stomach rumbled listening to Lisa talk, more subtle facts about food insecurity arose. Trust is slow to develop within low-income communities, which inhibits connections between people and reliable meals. Pride can be a barrier to getting enough to eat. Irony – Many of the food insecure work in the service industries, maybe at your local restaurant.

Finally, one last bit of irony. Yesterday morning on my way to work, I had stopped to get gas. When the attendant handed me my receipt, to thank him a little more meaningfully for his splendid demeanor, I had given him back a McDonald’s card and told him that lunch was on me. Instead of just saying thanks though, he paused for a second, sucked in his breath then exhaled, “Thank you. … These really, really help.”

It wasn’t until after I listened to Lisa speak, that I realized the attendant’s appreciation might have been speaking to food insecurity.

There are a lot of empty plates out there.

Yesterday’s gift of time … Gave a McDonald’s gift card to a gas station attendant, then  gave my ear and a few dollars to the Oregon Food Bank. 

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About Eric Winger

Our perception of time is key to how we use our time. The most fundamental way to change that perception is to give our time. This opens us up to new opportunities and ideas from which we can build to really make a difference. ... Yes, we *do* have time to make a difference!
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2 Responses to Empty Plates

  1. GYA today says:

    I like your style, Eric. 🙂 Also, I love the little 4 line poem. I should like to use it for a post myself sometime. Be well, my friend. ~Paul

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