can we do a good thing?

It’s a horrible economy, in spite of the every increasing attempts at dumbing down the American public to thinking “it’s not so bad out there.”

People are going hungry right in our own back yards.  Which is why we are as residents of the suburbs and exurbs learning more and more about local food banks.

I have a wonderful friend in Narberth named Gigi who is a whirling dervish of a driving force behind the food bank in Narberth.  So before I delve into how this ties in my head to Chester County, I would like you learn about Gigi and what she is doing courtesy of another pal of mine, Ashley Nguyen at Neighbors Main Line on Philly.com:

A food bank – and need for it – grows in Narberth By Ashley Nguyen

When Gigi Tevlin-Moffat saw fellow Narberth residents begin to fall apart in  the recession, she looked for a way to help.

With neighbors, she organized food drives at the United Methodist Church.  After a few events, Tevlin-Moffat went back to sending e-mails asking for  donations and turned the food drives over to a few volunteers.

Nearly five weeks later, Tevlin-Moffat got a phone call: The number of  clients was overwhelming the volunteers.

Tevlin-Moffat returned to the effort, and the Narberth Community Food Bank  was born.

Now, more than two years after those first informal food drives,  Tevlin-Moffat is filing the paperwork to form a nonprofit charitable  organization.

In the heart of the Main Line, Tevlin-Moffat found, some people are  struggling, from the recently unemployed to senior citizens, and the problem  isn’t going away.

“It’s everybody from every walk of life,” she said. “It is people with  children, it is single mothers, it is seniors and people who have medical bills.  Every situation you have heard of, it’s here. It’s real.”

Now when Gigi reads this, I will undoubtedly get a phone call or e-mail saying she doesn’t deserve the praise, but I think she does.  She’s an amazing example of just paying it forward in a good and Godly way.  I think she’s awesome. (Incidentally, The Narberth Community  Food Bank is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays, then reopens from 6 to 8  p.m.)

So anyway,   I read a wonderful thing just now concerning  Chester County and decided to post again today.  It was in the Tredyffrin-Easttown Patch.  It was about the Paddock Closing in Devon.  A business closing in this economy is not wonderful, but as a restaurant,what they did and didn’t have to do, was wonderful – they gave leftover foodstuffs to a local food pantry:

Paddock’s Loss Becomes Local Families’ Gain  By Bob Byrne

 At an hour on Wednesday that was lunch hour at the Paddock at Devon just last week, Deb Ackerman and Colleen Sanford were packing up the contents of a huge walk-in refrigerator in the restaurant’s newly-abandoned kitchen.

Ackerman and Sanford run the food pantry at the Church of the Good Samaritan  in Paoli. The fresh vegetables, eggs, butter, cream, cheese and bacon they were packing up Tuesday just after noon will be distributed to local families in need on Wednesday evening at the church….The food pantry operates at the church on the first and third Thursday of each month from 9 a.m.- 1p.m. and on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month from 5 p.m.-7 p.m…..”Our need for donations has exploded.”

As the recession continues to hit Chester County hard, the food pantry has been working harder than ever to keep up with demands.

Here we are in an area that has a lot of agricultural goodness, and people are going hungry?

Hmmm.  It also is timely given Food Network’s special called The Big Waste, which is all about the food we waste in this country, wrapped in a chefs’ competition.  It’s actually no joke, because there is a guy named Jonathan Bloom who devotes a whole website to what is wasted called Wasted Food.com .  He says in the “about” section of his website:

Americans waste more than 40 percent of the food we produce for consumption. That comes at an annual cost of more than $100 billion. At the same time, food prices and the number of Americans without enough to eat continues to rise…..I’ve been researching this topic since 2005, when two experiences made me aware of just how much food is wasted. Volunteering at D.C. Central Kitchen, a homeless shelter that rescues unused food from restaurants and supermarkets illuminated the excess in those areas.

Gleaning, or gathering crops that would otherwise be left in the field and distributing them to the hungry, illustrated the agricultural abundance that is often plowed under.

So now I am thinking about this. (A lot of people start to think “uhh-ohh” when I say I am thinking about something.)  But seriously, it’s like a message. I am lucky. I have enough to eat and as of a partial mastectomy June 1, 2011 I can also say I am a breast cancer survivor. That has nothing to do with the price of eggs, per se, it just puts it all into perspective for me.   I see what my pal Gigi does, and have an affinity for Good Sam although I don’t worship there because they do good works like this all the time.

So this is what I am thinking – and maybe it’s already happening, but in case it’s not, maybe the good farmers of Chester County can help out one or two of these food banks going forward?   Or maybe farmers who already do stuff like this can encourage other farmer neighbors to consider it too?

Look, I know what I am asking. And I know that farming is one of the toughest, most demanding and money-sucking gigs out there, but surely based on what these food banks are doing for people in the community and the word that people like this Jonathan Bloom is trying to spread, can we think about or re-think this?

What do all you farmers out there do with what isn’t considered pretty enough to sell on the Main Line in farmers’ markets  or to restaurants?  Do you have any left overs that if you say, donated to Good Samaritan, which as a large religious institution is a non-profit , could undoubtedly give you some kind of  a charitable donation letter?  Or maybe give to my friend Gigi’s food bank which is applying to be a non-profit just because she’s awesome?

And others out there?  As individuals or even as restaurants you can give to food banks too.  You can also check with food banks to see not only what they need, but if they accept things like grocery store gift cards that can be used to purchase food. Or if you can’t give to a food bank, how about telling someone else who might be able to and just pay it forward?

For the Narberth Food Bank, if you can help, contact Gigi at gigiandrick@comcast.net or donations@narberthcommunityfoodbank.org   – The Narberth Community Food Bank accepts donations Monday evenings 7 pm to 8 pm.  For more information, see their website: http://narberthcommunityfoodbank.org/ .

For Good Samaritan, I have not had a chance to lock down the specifics of their food pantry, other than what I learned from T-E Patch: it operates at the church on the first and third Thursday of each month from 9 a.m.- 1p.m. and on the seoncd and fourth Thursdays of the month from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. I bet you could e-mail info@good-samaritan.org or call them during normal business hours at 610-644-4040.  They are located at 212 West Lancaster Avenue in Paoli.

When I think of Chester County one of the things I think  are the working farms, the produce, the dairy, the bounty, etc.

And well if you don’t want to go all the way to Narberth to drop off donations, Good Sam in Paoli is in Chester County….

The way I see it is we can’t count on anyone but ourselves in this horrible economy, so while it’s tough on so many of us, there are those who are literally going hungry. Why not do a good thing?

Pax.

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