Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How to Help Fellow Wellfleetians at Thanksgiving

I have been thinking about food a lot as Thanksgiving approaches and Congress prepares to vote on the Food Safety Bill. There’s a worthwhile article in this week’s Newsweek that summarizes the situation in the USA, a country where the elite can eat what they want, poor people risk becoming obese due to the lousy choices available to them, and the unemployed have a hard time putting food on the table.

This week Chamber of Commerce members received an emailed request from the Wellfleet Food Pantry, located at Grace Chapel, on Route 6. Their banner reads, "Feeding Families and Seniors in Need." These are the folks who organize the collection of canned goods in the library foyer and distribute food to community members. Donation boxes can also be found at Wellfleet Marketplace, Cape Cod Five, Seamen’s Bank, and the Senior Center. This system makes it easy to help others and deserves our support.

If you are local, there are even more creative ways to participate. For instance, one option is to organize a personal food drive, ie. throw a holiday party and have everyone bring boxed or canned goods for donation. With this type of donation, the sky's the limit. “We even had a seven-year-old. Instead of birthday presents, he asked guests to bring food,” organizer Donna Gates told me.

I have been fortunate enough never to know hunger, but when my dad first came to the USA, there was a period in his life where the pantry was very empty as he struggled to find work as a screenwriter in Los Angeles. From his memoir: “Hungry most of the time, I could think of nothing but food. Money now meant nickels and dimes. A dollar seemed like a fortune. Every so often I went through the motions of scrounging through drawers and cupboards in the hope of finding an old carrot, a potato, a crust of bread, anything I could chew on ...”

Down at the Marketplace yesterday, the young woman, who was relieving the cashier during her break, told me her family had been among the Wellfleetians to receive food from the Food Pantry. With a shrug of pride, she said things were better now and her need for assistance was over, but that it can happen to any of us, at any time.

Last year the Wellfleet Food Pantry helped 500 families. Recently, there has been an upsurge in demand – 40%! If you live far away and are unable to drop off a contribution, why not consider monetary support this Thanksgiving? (At Spoonfed, Christina Le Beau explains why giving dollars makes even more sense.) Write out a check to the Wellfleet Food Pantry so Donna can provide turkeys. Send to Box 625, South Wellfleet, 02663. It will make your own Thanksgiving that much happier ...