Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Regina Velรกzquez: You Can Do This: Five Easy Ways to Make a Difference

In times of struggle, it’s easy to feel helpless. Fortunately, it’s also easy to make a positive change.

After a bleak weekend of hearing the news from Paris, I helped my seven-year-old son pack his bag for school on Monday morning. His class was taking a field trip to a local food pantry, where they would present some money from a fundraising event they’d conducted, donate a few groceries they had in tow, and help sort food. What a simple and wonderful thing he would be doing that day.

Later that night, he told us all about the trip. He seemed upset when he related how few boxes of cereal he had counted at the food pantry. I promised him we could go to the store and buy some to donate. Relief washed over him. “Yeah,” he said, “that’s easy. Let’s do that.”

It is easy. And we will.

In Paris, a small group of people made a huge difference — one that caused chaos, destruction, and grief. If they had the power to change the course of events so radically, surely any of us has the power to change things in a positive way. We have opportunities on top of opportunities to help people, whether it’s growing a row of food for the hungry or helping children learn to read or giving away our clothing as we declutter. Even our smallest efforts will be like a solid rock in the fortress we can build together, and kindness and goodwill will continue into the future for as long as we make the choice to change the world.

Here are five easy things you can do to make a positive difference in your food community now, or any time, adapted from The Food Activist Handbook by Ali Berlow:
  1. Donate. Find out which foods your local food bank or pantry needs most and add them to your regular shopping list. Can’t give food? Give your time. Many food pantries need helping sorting and repacking donations.
  2. Hunger comes in many languages. If you speak more than one language, volunteer as an interpreter at a food-based organization.
  3. Pick it yourself. Volunteer for a gleaning network and get unharvested food from local farms to those in need.
  4. Put your canning skills to work. Join a food recovery program (or start one!) and help preserve food from local farms for distribution to underserved communities.
  5. Pass it on. Teach a whole food cooking class or canning and preserving workshop at your local food pantry or community center.  

Regina Velรกzquez is the editorial production manager at Storey. A native of Knoxville, Tennessee, she has lived in New England for the last 16 years and still doesn’t really mind the winters. As the quality control person who sees all of Storey’s beautiful books before they go to press, she is developing new hobbies and interests on an almost daily basis. Her two young children make sure she never has time to obsess about any of them.

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