It’s almost always far more than any one person can handle, let alone a child. More than once, we’ve left plates half-full of pancakes and eggs and toast and fruit behind. Have portions – especially child portions – always been so humongous? Near us, we go to The Nevada Diner for an easy, relatively cheap, breakfast. And when we travel, we always stop at “The Shiny Place” on Route 84 for lunch. We never manage to finish what we order, so it goes to waste. Plates of excess soaked in the guilt of privilege are bussed and tossed. Yes, yes. We could doggy-bag it and eat it later. But really, we wouldn’t. Syrup tends to make pancakes soggy, and Moussaka doesn’t travel well in a car packed with the various long-weekend needs of a family with young children.
I have come up with a brilliant (if not entirely original) idea to attempt to balance a small part of the abundance inequity: I’m going to start a rainy day fund to donate to the Human Needs Food Pantry. I recently read this thoughtful post about being faced with great need in the face of more-than-plenty from Liz Gumbinner (@Mom101) on the same day I heard WNYC tell me where the most charitable giving areas were. It got me thinking about giving from those of us not involved in religious institutions. And it got me thinking about how monetary donations to specific organizations can make a great difference in a Star Thrower kind of way. I’ve found the Human Needs Food Pantry to be well-run and its clients receive a wide variety of food and supplies, so it’s my choice for my rainy day fund.
So here’s what I plan on doing from now on: Every time we go out to eat or order a pizza or call up Sushi Koshi for some rolls, I’m going to put the same amount as that meal into a Virtual Cookie Jar. If I can afford to feed my family takeout instead of cooking from scratch, I can afford to donate the same amount to the local food pantry. I realize that not everyone is in the same position to give, but I also know that many people are.
I challenge all of us to at least look at the things on which we spend discretionary money (iPhones, cable, Baked Ziti with Meatballs, super-sized popcorn at the movies, frozen yogurt…) and consider doing the same. Even if it just forces us all to realize how lucky we are to be able to spend a certain amount on unnecessary items, it will be worth it. Will you join my family for September? Try it for a week, just keep track. I’ll bet it’s illuminating, if not shocking.
I found a food related charity most appropriate, but here are a couple of other trustworthy organizations that will make good use of your rainy day charity fund:
The Fresh Air Fund, Wounded Warrior Project, The March of Dimes, Feeding NYC, NJ Community Food Bank, or do a search for a charity or organization near you. What are (or would be) your choices? + Update + just added: MESH (Montclair Emergency Services for the Homeless).