It’s Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week in you didn’t know. Consequently, I’d like to devote this week’s entry to something I’ve given a lot of thought on over the last few months. Something that I’d thought about before, but am only beginning to get ranty about now.
Yes, dear readers, you are in for a semi rant-y entry.
Holiday season or not, I think it’s always important to consider those who are less fortunate. However, because donations skyrocket around the holidays, I think this entry is something I have to get off my chest.
In the midst of all of my candidacy crazy, my reading list contained a thought-provoking article by Melanie Rock which discussed Kraft Dinner in the context of food insecurity. For a brief version check out this link. If you don’t want to read the research brief, let me summarize it, and some of it’s premises for you. Kraft Dinner is a very common donation at food banks. The reasons for this are numerous, including the idea that Kraft Dinner is palatable for children, represents comfort food to donors, and enables middle income earners to feel like they’re ‘getting more bang for their buck’ in their donation–that is, the volume to cost ratio is high. Basically, they get more boxes of Kraft Dinner for every dollar spent.
Food insecure people, or those who actually access the Food Bank, actually really dislike Kraft Dinner, and stats outside the article have chronicled it as one of the last things to leave Food Bank shelves. According to Rock’s research, it’s challenging for the food insecure to make KD because they don’t have money to access things like milk or butter which would, indeed, make it more palatable.
As a graduate student, and a foodie who would die in the zombie apocalypse because of sheer pickiness alone, I made the conscience choice to pick up a box of KD and eat it for lunch that day. Even with milk and butter I found it disgusting. It has little nutritional value, little palatability, and honestly, most of the box was wasted.
Similarly, I’m left wondering when people choose to donate clothing with noticeable holes in terrible places to homeless shelters. Who do these donors think will wear that? I understand the occasional hole in a completely wearable piece of clothing. My partner will wear socks with large holes in them. I will wear the occasional t-shirt with a relatively small tear, and a few stray threads on a warm winter coat are hardly something to snark at, but when jeans have giant holes in the crotch, it’s time to find another use for that denim.
And that’s why I’m posting this blog. It might be offensive to some people, but honestly, my philosophy is “Don’t donate something I wouldn’t use ever”. If it’s far too worn, completely broken, or downright unnutritional, I won’t donate it.
In many respects, when we donate to organizations that help the poor, we make a choice: we can restore people’s dignity, or we can make them feel worse for their current state. I believe in human dignity and compassion. Donating is about so much more than giving someone something to wear, it’s about making them feel like a person again.
Some things to think about…