Yesterday I visited the Cherry Street Food Bank to pick up boxes for tomorrow’s Will Bake for Food event. I felt awkward, like I didn’t belong. The security guard knew the same thing—he eyed me like I was a fish out of water. Lucy in arms, I walked through the doors and asked the nice folks at the desk about the boxes. While they were being retrieved, I had the chance to observe some of the Cherry Street Food Bank’s patrons.
They have a sort of assembly line set up for people to pick and choose from: formula, diapers, baby food, canned food, potatoes, rice, beans, and a few fresh fruits and veggies. A volunteer hands out what people choose, although the items seemed to be limited to by the cards that they presented upon walking in the door. One woman with a baby in a sling (no coat on either the mother or the baby, in 40 degree rain), picked up a few diapers, some potatoes, a can of chicken broth and a bunch of kale. A man with two babies received two cans of formula and some potatoes. I can’t help but think that neither family is getting nearly enough for one week, especially when you have small mouths to feed. Do they have money to go to the grocery store when they run out?
I wished they would hurry up with my boxes. I was beginning to tear up, and I didn’t want the volunteers to see me cry. Here I am with my designer purse and rain jacket, carrying my bundled up toddler clutching her teddy bear. The spoiled rich girl with the bleeding heart. These babies must be freezing, and if they’re hungry to boot I might break down into uncontrollable sobs right here in the middle of the downtown food bank. As a parent, I can’t imagine what it would feel like to not be able to satisfy all the needs of my child.
Finally the boxes arrive. The volunteers help me to my car. I strap Lucy in, turn on the heat and then allow myself to completely lose it.
I cry all the way home. We’ve been organizing Will Bake for Food for weeks, and I have yet to put a face on the people we’re trying to help. I knew it was bad—according to recent reports the number of food insecure households in Washington state has gone up 36% this year alone. But when I see the faces of this statistic I can’t seem to do anything but weep. I know that I’m doing what I can, but I still feel like it isn’t enough.
That’s why I’m asking you to come out to Will Bake for Food tomorrow. You can help. Bring non-perishable food or baby items (scroll down for a full list of what Northwest Harvest needs) to trade for some delicious treats baked by Seattle’s most talented foodies. Come by, say hello, and support a very worthwhile cause. I’ll be the one in the WBFF tee and the huge pregnant belly.
Read on to see what foods we need most…
Northwest Harvest buys rice and beans in bulk, so other items are encouraged. They ask for items low in saturated fats and refined carbohydtares (sugar, white flour).
General food items:
Whole grain pastas
Canned fruit, especially with low sugar (but not artificial sweeteners)
Canned fish or meat
Beef stew, chili and similar meals with low sugar and saturated fats
Baby formula, infant cereal, jars of baby food, powdered or canned milk, diapers