Final Analysis – Darren and Jen
So much to say about this experience – but I have a tendency to ramble when I faced with such a cross-section of thoughts. I’ll try to keep it focused. :-)
First off – A Week in Their Kitchen was a brilliantly conceived plan to help bring awareness to the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank with a demographic they may not always hit as well as they might like. Crafting a message from respected people and delivering it in a medium that people in this demo embrace is extremely valuable for any organization.
Second – after the food bank building tour, and realizing how many organization are impacted by the great work of the staff and hundreds of volunteers who give their time to helps tens of thousands of Calgarians annually. As a fellow Calgarian, I am proud we have organizations like this serving our city, and proud to do what I can to help support them.
ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE - As I explained yesterday to my lunchmates, Brooke, Leah and Erin, I came full circle in this experience – but ended with a more enlightened perspective. If you recall from my initial post – I felt ashamed about being so material – I had just had a fit over the weekend about not be able to get an iPad. I also lamented no-sushi, no meat regularly… and so on.
By the end, I realized that I shouldn’t be ashamed about being able to eat the food I want, purchase the products I want and do the things I want. I won’t apologize for wanting things – even specific food or ‘toys’. I won’t apologize for indulging in the odd luxury – Jen and I work hard for what we earn, and we’re smart with our money – and prepared for most realistic emergencies. We’ve earned the ability to enjoy things in life.
So – you’re probably asking, “What did he get out of this experience, then?”
Being a person who has a certain amount of influence, and in a family fortunate to have two solid incomes and financial security – I figured the one thing I learned was that I can and should probably give more. Give money, give time, give support (through media), to organizations that provide this city and its vulnerable and sometimes forgotten citizens with the most basic of its needs – and then some.
I donate money to the food bank, but I don’t volunteer. But I will volunteer. I will also donate more, knowing that for each dollar I give, the Food Bank can make that dollar stretch four times further. I will advocate for supporting organizations when appropriate. It’s the least I can do to help.
THE FOOD – All of us ‘spoiled’ bloggers (for you, Michelle :-) ) may have mentioned in more than one post the bubble gum pudding, the abundance of plantains, some of the sweet foods (yes, I am a cookie monster) and that sometimes the foods didn’t make the best of combinations.
Let’s be real here. Each one of us is used to having the foods we want, when we want. While we may have lamented about the food, I think each one of us was surprised at the variety and abundance of food that was included in the hampers. The Calgary Interfaith Food Bank does a great job of putting together hampers that can sustain one, two, three, four – or more people in times of need. It’s not meant to be a grocery bonanza, filled with culinary delight. It’s meant to aid our most vulnerable Calgarians in times of need, so they don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from.
So – truth be told, there was grumbling in our household. But, we managed. And – it saved us a few dollars, too.
One thing Jen said after a day or so was: “I know that next time we donate to the food bank, we’ll take the time to donate healthy foods.” I think the same sentiment was echoed by my colleague, fellow Week in Their Kitchen blogger and friend, Dave Dormer of the Calgary Sun. The next time he donates – he’ll donate the kinds of food he thinks is appropriate, instead of just what’s available.
I’m going to volunteer – and I’m going to encourage my friends, family and colleagues to do the same. I’m going to donate more much-needed money and I’m going to be there to support those organizations willing to do the same.
I’m going to start by donating the cash equivalent of what my hamper cost to replace. That’s to calm the critics who suggest those of us willing to take the time to help raise awareness for the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank are in fact taking food from people who really need it. To those people: Are you satisfied now?
Further – anyone reading this final bit (if you lasted this long) – my appeal is to you.
Donate your time. Donate money. Donate food — healthy food, if you can. Not just your leftovers. Find out what the Food Bank needs, and then fill that need. Support those who lend a hand to great civic organizations like the Calgary Food Bank. It sounds cliche, but you CAN make a difference.
If there’s one thing I learned during this experience, it’s that I can actually make a difference, too.
Until next time (Yes, I’m long-winded sometimes), take care.
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