Back to Basics

Having just relaunched Food Shelf Friday, I thought it would be a good idea to go back to basics and talk about why I blog about hunger and what a Food Shelf Friday even is.

I have to confess, I never thought I would have a blog. When blogging first took off, I thought bloggers were self-absorbed narcissists who basically kept a diary that was published for all the world to see. My life was not (and is not) that exciting. I didn’t read blogs, and I never considered writing one.

As time went on, blogging became less about “what I did today” and more about specific topics. I found a blogger who wrote about vintage fashion, and her work was useful to me as an historian. I followed a blogger who taught couponing and provided great resources. As I came to understand blogging, I grew to appreciate it, but I still didn’t see myself as someone with something to contribute.

One day I was asked a simple question about what the local food shelf/food bank needs. I had some experience from volunteer projects I’d done, so I was able to answer. This spawned another question and another, and I realized that I had some level of expertise that I wasn’t even aware of. When I got home that night I kept thinking that there should be a place that average people can go to find resources. Somewhere that could answer these questions so we can truly, effectively help others. That’s when it dawned on me that a blog could be that place. I dug around online and didn’t find anything like I was imagining, so I started brainstorming names.

My church was in the middle of an initiative called Hope for Dinner at that time, and I loved the idea that by eating rice and beans each night we were sharing in a common experience while raising money to help those in need. I decided that my family could do something similar, and the concept of a Food Shelf Friday was born.

Every Friday (or whatever day of the week works for you), participating families exchange their usual dinner for the kind of simple meal people get when they visit a food shelf.  At the same time, they purchase the identical ingredients to donate.  By simplifying our dinner we can provide dinner for another family without incurring any additional cost while learning to appreciate the challenges of food insecurity.

FSF meals include:
Tuna Helper and veggies (1 box Tuna Helper, 2 cans of Tuna, two cans of veggies)
Pancakes and fruit (1 box of pancake mix, 1 container of syrup, 1-2 cans of fruit)
Spaghetti and veggies (1 package of dry pasta, 1 can or jar of pasta sauce, 1-2 cans of veggies)
Soup (canned or dry soup, stew, or chili, and a shelf stable bread product like muffin or cornbread mix)
Rice & Beans (1 lb bag of rice, canned or dry beans, cans of additional canned veggie ingredients)

Here in Minnesota our local food banks are called food shelves. I didn’t know this was a local-ism until I set up my site and started researching. Everything I found when searching “food shelf” came up local, but “food bank” came up with information from all over the country. I decided to own it and stick with Food Shelf Friday.

Researching fast enough to write a weekly blog post is the hardest part of this. Since I started Food Shelf Friday in 2014 I’ve written a thesis and finished my master’s degree in history, launched a kid into college/adulthood, and worked. I currently work two jobs and commute 40+ miles each way, so it’s not like I have a lot of spare time on my hands!

My favorite part is meeting people who are also passionate about doing real good and helping the world’s hungry. My personal Facebook newsfeed has become very inspiring as I’ve found different people and organizations to follow!

Food Shelf Friday is on Facebook, Twitter account (@foodshelffriday), and Pinterest. That’s where I share a lot of what others are doing, and things I find inspiring. FSF has an Instagram as well (@foodshelffriday), but that’s something I’m just starting to build.

If making a REAL difference in the world while affirming dignity and hope in others is something you care about, come along on this journey. Try Food Shelf Friday dinners with your family. Follow FSF on social media. And share with me (blog comment or Facebook DM work best) questions you have, book/documentary suggestions, and things you’d like to see me dig into. I always appreciate the suggestions!

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