Growing a community through food, Happiness

July 11, 2016

By Jennifer Antonik, News Editor, The Milford Chronicle and The Harrington Journal

This article originally appeared in the July 6 editions of The Milford Chronicle and The Harrington Journal.

I went grocery shopping this week. Alone. It was blissful.

There were no children hanging off of my every limb, nor anyone shouting: Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom…. Mom! I want, I want, I want… At some point, I usually have to remind our children that there’s a better way to ask for things. Such as, “Mother, would you please allow us to have this sugar-fest inside a box?” Naturally, if they ask it that way, I’d probably say no anyways. Our poor children.

But I didn’t have to do that Friday. Because I was a mom on a solitary mission: food.

At first, I walked through the store in somewhat of a daze. What do I need? Do we have milk? How about fruit? Veggies? No. The kids don’t eat their veggies. Get it anyway, mom. You know you have to at least offer it to them.

Do I get the giant $7 jar of peanut butter because it’s cheaper in the long-run? Or the 5-pack of macaroni and cheese because it’s about $1 cheaper than buying them individually? Every dollar counts.

Then it dawned on me: I was wandering through the grocery store thinking about all the things I could buy to feed the family. Not all the things I couldn’t buy because my budget was too tight.

We’ve been on the other side of the coin, too. I’ll never forget crying because I didn’t know how we’d feed the kids and we’d already asked for help from family, friends and our church that week. I thought: surely my husband and I can get by on scraps, but the kids? They didn’t do anything to deserve scraps.

We were given so many hand-ups rather than hand- outs over the years. Nowadays, every week we’re lucky to be able to ask ourselves: how can we help with someone else’s need.

There’s a way I’d like to help out and I’d encourage our readers to do the same: volunteer at the Food Bank of Delaware’s Milford branch (or another local organization that helps feed our community).

The food bank accepts volunteers nearly every day and puts them to good use. Sometimes it’s sorting food and necessities, other times volunteers could be preparing packs of food for distribution.

During the school year, backpacks with food are sent home with children in need every weekend. During the summer, the food bank helps provide children with lunches.

From experience, I can tell you that school meals are expensive. In the Lake Forest School District, all of the students receive free breakfasts and lunches should their families choose to not send meals. Once school let out in June, I had to be prepared to give our son ten more meals than usual. I wasn’t prepared.

My mom brought us bag after bag of food after she realized I hadn’t prepared well enough for the extra summertime meals. Yay for moms!

Next year? We’ll have two school-aged kids.

We used to be in a place where feeding 10-20 extra meals a week would have broken us. We had to choose between paying the electric bill or buying enough food for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

The Food Bank of Delaware, through the food bank at our church, fed our family more than a handful of times and even supplied a couple of holiday meals to get us through. When you’re down, it’s amazing what some toilet paper, paper towels and canned veggies can do to sooth the soul.

What I came to learn most during our down times was that it doesn’t always take money to give someone a hand-up. Time is very important, too. Time is one thing that the food bank needs from our community.

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