What would it take to keep food pantries full?


I was reading the article published about our empty food pantries recently.

It’s been on my mind lately, too: knowing first hand, that when I needed help, Sue Rundblad, at Jewish Family and Children’s Services came to my aid.


She’s compassionate, never judgmental; always supportive and thinking of each person’s individual needs.

I have a full-time job now, going to bed each night with a satisfied stomach. Still, reminded that someone else is out there going to bed with hunger pains, it all comes back.

I remember what it felt like before I got help: lonely, a taste of fear in my mouth, wondering what the next moment would bring to challenge me; my stomach rumbling in protest for the smaller portion of food it was allotted that day.

So now I ask myself the question I guess others might be asking at this point, too: “What could I possibly do that I haven’t done before to help and make a difference in my community?”

I know that Schnucks and other supermarkets often have a “buy-one-get-one-free” or a “two-for-one” sale, and it’s then I re-stock my pantry for a rainy day.

Well, today looks like one of those “rainy days” and it’s been a while since we had a sale, yet I’ve got a better reason for looking forward to it the next time.

I’ve decided there is something I can do.

I’m going shopping with my regular budget and buy what I usually buy for the house; only this time, with the “get-one-free” items, I’m going to take them to the pantry.

Right about now you’re probably saying: “I thought someone was taking care of the food pantries? What could that little bit of food do to help? It sounds so simple; how could it work?”

We know when the going gets tough, the tough get going. It’s time for us to get going. Given the ripple effect, we could stock up those pantries on an ongoing basis without spending any additional out-of-pocket costs from our budgets if we all join in this together each time there is a sale.

Then, if we save our receipts and get a contribution voucher from the pantry, we could even take some of the cost off our taxes. It’s a win/win situation for everyone.

I realize many haven’t had the experience of going to bed hungry, so you’ll have to believe me when I say you don’t forget that feeling. It’s a great, humbling teacher when you’ve walked that mile in someone else’s shoes.

If it sounds like I’m challenging my community, well I guess I am!

Who’s going to join me in this venture? How far can we get this to ripple out? There’s a simple solution to every problem and we have this one within our own hands.

Why did I write this? Well, although I’m grateful for what I learned and hope I always remember, I’m also hoping someone else won’t need to have the same experience.

Michele C. Long, of Dittmer, Mo., is a member of Central Reform Congregation.