Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Thankful For... Food. A Bounty of Food.
There is something about this time of year that brings food pantries, soup kitchens and the problem of hunger to the forefront. Maybe it's the approach of winter, maybe it's the significance of the holiday feast. I've posted before about the issue of hunger and my passion for it. I support a local food pantry as regularly as I can. Teagan has taken on the mission, too, and often reminds me to pick up something for the food pantry when we are grocery shopping. My church is very involved in supporting the food pantry ministry at our sister church. We have a monthly food theme and that has worked really well. One month is cereal, another is canned fruit, another is pasta and sauce. In November, we did a special drive for donations of Thanksgiving meals- cranberry sauce, canned pumpkin, box of mashed potatoes, stove top, green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and so on. I posted recently about making a donation that was a collection of food from just 4 people and about getting to see the inner workings of this small food pantry serving local families. If you didn't read that post, I encourage you to do so. Today, the day before friends and family gather together at a table that will have an ample amount of food, I am thankful for the food being prepared by loving hands. Last week, I was deeply moved by the generosity of the donations coming in at church for that Thanksgiving drive. I arrived at music team practice Thursday evening and Teagan and I jumped in to help take the bags and bags and bags of food from the lobby, into the church, and up to the altar. One of my friends on music team is a teacher at a local school and she shared with us a story. I don't know many details but I knew enough to know that we had to help. Someone who knows someone knows this family- 3 kids. Somehow, someone got invited into the home and discovered that there was no food in the home. None. Nothing. The kids had been surviving on school lunch during the week and been hungry for the weekend. The someone who discovered the situation immediately got them some food. One of the children, a little girl, grabbed a can of condensed chicken noodle soup, popped the top open and drank the entire can. My heart broke- no, my heart opened wide to this family. A friend and I insisted that this teacher take food from these donations to that family. She was already going to share information with them about the food pantry. We went through the bags and pulled out 4 or 5 paper bags worth of food that wouldn't require additional food to prepare- things that would only require water, no milk or butter. The spotlight is turned on bright to show the real face of hunger in America as we approach winter and the holidays. But hunger is a problem that families face every day, no matter the season. I'm thankful that I have a pantry that always has food in it. I'm thankful that my fridge is always full. I'm thankful that my freezer doesn't have any room in it. I'm thankful that I have a snack bin that my kids can access at any time and that the bin is always full. I am so thankful that my children don't know what hunger is, don't know how it feels to go to bed hungry, don't know how it feels to be uncertain about when there will be food in the house. And because I am blessed, I can be passionate about working to help others who are struggling and need a hand in order to feed their children, their families, themselves. In that original post, I said I was going to share the meal kits that this pantry puts together. I would love to focus on collecting food items for these meal kits. Not only do these kits provide food to a family, but I think there is an amazing opportunity for a mom, dad, or child to take pride in preparing an actual meal and not just heating up something from a can. I would encourage you to take this idea to your own local pantry or to your church or school and see if you can't make a positive change in someone's life through a simple gesture. If you are in the Indianapolis area and would like to contribute something from the list below, please e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you aren't local but want to contribute (and trust me), you can use my PayPal to donate to the cause. Contact me at that given e-mail address for information. And if you take this list, this idea, and you implement it in your area, please share your story. Inspiration has great power when it comes to the positive influence of change. If I've inspired you, I encourage you to be vocal and inspire others. I am thankful for the bounty that awaits us for the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow. I am thankful that I am able to provide some of that bounty and feed the people that I love. I am thankful for food. For each of these, I will print up the recipe card that goes into the bag with the ingredients. One staple for these is gallon sized Ziploc type bags. 1. Chicken, Bean, and Tomato Stew You will need: 1 can of chicken, 1 large can flavored ranch style beans, and 1 can diced tomatoes with jalapenos or onions. Instructions: Drain chicken. Mix with undrained beans and undrained tomatoes in a pot. Heat thoroughly before serving. Liz note: I think this would be awesome over rice... 2. Chicken or Turkey Tacos You will need: 1 package of taco seasoning, 1 jar of salsa OR 1 can of diced tomatoes OR 1 can of tomato sauce, and 1 can of chicken or turkey. Instructions: Combine all ingredients and heat in skillet. Serve with taco shells, soft tortillas, or chips. (Good side dishes include refried beans, Spanish rice, and/or corn.) 3. One Pot Chicken and Minute Rice Casserole You will need: 2 cans of cream soup (any kind), 2 soup cans of milk, 2 soup cans of uncooked minute rice, 1 soup can of water, 1 can of cooked chicken, and salt/pepper/onion (to taste). Instructions: Mix all ingredients together. Place in large, well greased baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes, or until rice is fully cooked. After about 15 minutes, add more liquid if needed to keep rice from burning. This can also be made with tuna or any other canned meat. Vegetables may be added near the end of the baking time. Liz note: I think a can of green beans and/or corn and/or peas would be great in this! I'm going to add one that my mom used to make: Mac N Cheese Tuna Casserole 2 boxes of mac n cheese, 1 large can of tuna, 1 can of peas. Prepare mac n cheese as instructed. Drain tuna and peas. Mix into mac n cheese. And one that I've made from time to time: Easy Beef Stroganoff 1 can cream of mushroom soup, egg noodles, 1 can of peas Boil noodles. In separate pot, heat mushroom soup with 1/2 can of milk or water. Drain peas and mix into soup. Brown 1 lb ground beef and add to soup/pease mixture. Serve over egg noodles. Top with parmesan cheese. THANK YOU!!!