Friday, September 23, 2016

SNAP Challenge - DAY 3 – Lessons Learned

by Nicole Milbradt, Director of Marketing

Today is Day 3. It is also a late start day. I did not prepare for that. Late start means no breakfast for free-and-reduced lunch kids. Luck for us, there is enough pancake mix for this weekend’s family breakfasts to make a few servings for today.  But I have to work so the teenager gets to try her hand at it. She’ll be in college in less than a year so I like to think of it as a teaching opportunity.

I showed her how to make the first one. The other five were hers. She learned a lot from her teaching opportunity. She learned that if you flip too soon, you slop mix all over the side of the pan and if you are really talented, the stove top. After she cleaned it up and tried again, she learned that you can’t have the pan too hot or you burn the pancake (who burns pancakes!?!). She also learned that when you throw out two of your six pancakes, you have less to eat and you aren’t full when you finish breakfast.

Since I was off to work, she also learned that she could make herself and her sister their normal lunches and opt-out of the SNAP challenge. Traitors.

At dinner, we had an interesting conversation…

“Mom, why are you doing this again?” asked the little.

“I’m trying to help people understand what a family who is like ours but is struggling to put food on the table has to go through.” I continued, “We are lucky. We only have to do this for a week… or a few days for you. But what if you had to do this every day?”

“I was hungry all the time. Does that mean that those kids are hungry ALL the time?”

Thankfully, I knew that there are a lot of people working on the problem and that those people are helping families in need with access to food at food banks and hot meal sites. I explained to her how those services worked. I told the family how, even though extra food from food banks helps, many people have to visit those food banks every chance they get, just to get by.

I was worried that my kids’ decision to opt-out of the challenge meant that they didn’t get it. I was glad to be wrong.

The youngest started naming off friends at her school she was scared might be facing hunger. Kids who came to school without lunches. Kids who talked about being hungry.

“Momma, how can we help?”

With a full heart, I told her there were a lot of things we could do. We could volunteer at a food bank or meal site. We could donate food to drives like the Letter Carrier’s Drive each spring or drives at her school. We could donate money to organizations like United Way of Pierce County that had made ending hunger a priority.

She immediately threw out some ideas of her own… “I can take extra snacks to school each day and share them. And I can share things in my lunch with people who don’t have one. We can share the food from our garden and our apple tree.”

In just three short days, their empty tummies had helped them realize just how fortunate we are and how important it was to help others who don’t have the same opportunities. Even though my tummy was still growling , I knew right there that it was totally worth it.

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