Category Archives: Blogs

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!

10 Blogs I Follow

Are you looking for more information, stories from the field, or news about the battle against hunger? Do you want to save money on the things you buy for your family? Would you like to encourage your faith? Here are some of the blogs I read – maybe you’ll find something to love!

10. Pocket Your Dollars – This is the first blog I ever followed, and I didn’t realize it was a blog because back then I thought blogs were a big ego thing where people post pictures and talk about what their kids have been up to – like some kind of published diary. But I followed PYD, because Carrie is literally handing out useful information. This site lists the sale prices at grocery stores (specifically she covers the Minneapolis-St Paul metro area, but many of the stores are national chains), and which recent coupons (from newspaper inserts and online sources) can be combined with the sales to get rock bottom prices on groceries, personal hygiene items, and school supplies. She also has a weekly list of freebies and other great deals you don’t want to miss!

9. Living Well, Spending Less – Staying in the money-saving theme, LWSL is a blog I mostly follow via Facebook. They offer great organization and money-managing strategies, and practical advice. They also sell super cute organization items like planners, desk sets, etc., but the sales portion is not overwhelming at all.

8. Kiva blog – I’ve blogged about Kiva before – they’re the site I use to make microfinance loans. Well recently I found out that their organization also has a blog. On their blog they have reports from the field, news about the microfinance niche of the global economy, and follow-up stories about the change that microfinance is making in lives around the world.

7. Compassion blogCompassion is another organization that I have blogged about before. I sponsor a little boy in Burkina Faso, so I get the organization’s emails and follow them on Facebook. That’s how I became familiar with their blog. To be honest, I don’t read it all the time. But once a year, Compassion takes a group of bloggers on a missions trip somewhere in the world, and I read those faithfully! The Compassion bloggers visit the homes and families of children in the program, and they visit the Compassion centers where those kids are educated, fed, and cared for. If the bloggers on the trip are sponsors in the country, Compassion arranges for them to meet their sponsored child in person. How cool is that?!

(Side note: Compassion will help you arrange a meeting with your sponsored child if you’re traveling to their area. It’s on my bucket list, and I’m super excited for a friend of mine who will be meeting two of her Compassion kids this fall!)

6. The Feed (Feed My Starving Children) – Unless you’re new to Food Shelf Friday, you know I LOVE Feed My Starving Children. I have blogged about it, attended their events, and I participate in their book club. I also subscribe to their blog, The Feed. They share stories from the field, highlight inspiring donor/volunteer stories, share resources, and keep you up to date about FMSC events.

5. Bridging the Gap – OK, full disclosure warning. FSF isn’t my only blogging outlet. I’m also a contributor at Bridging the Gap, the Minnesota Assemblies of God women’s ministry blog. But this isn’t about my occasional contributions. My fellow contributors are amazing writers. Some of them are (or soon will be!) published authors. They are godly ladies of all ages and life stages who want to share with you the wisdom they glean along the way. Topics range from humor to the heavy stuff, all wrapped up in the faith we share.

4. Sherburne History Center – While I’m doing shameless plugs… Of course, I also read the blog of the history museum where I work. My boss writes our blog, and it’s full of fun little things our volunteers find in old newspapers, great stories of local interest, and broader historical coverage.

3. No Kid Hungry – Share our Strength/No Kid Hungry is an advocacy group that helps connect hungry kids with resources as well as offering hunger education to the public. They are a great resource for information on legislation, school lunch programs, etc. I follow their blog because I love their summer Youth Ambassador program. In the program they put teenagers to work in the field, then the teens blog about their experiences. It’s really interesting, and their enthusiasm is contagious!

2. All Your Heart Ministries – A few years ago, my friends Kelli and Tracy founded an organization called All Your Heart Ministries. Since then a few more friends have joined their effort, and they have a great organization! Their website, Facebook, and blog are soothing, encouraging, and do a great job walking the line between being gritty-real and maintaining a hopeful and faith-filled mindset. Also, they talk about Bible journaling, which I love!

1. We Are THAT Family – This is another blog I follow mainly through Facebook. Kristen Welch and her family are dedicated to making the world a better place, and they invite us all along on their adventures. The Welch family founded Mercy House Global, and it’s offshoot, Fair Trade Friday. I am a monthly subscription box member at Fair Trade Friday, and I LOVE getting my monthly box of fair trade goodies and learning about new retailers I can support. Kristen’s blog is inspirational, encouraging, and really beautiful.

So those are ten of the blogs I read! There are others, this could have been a MUCH bigger list, but I thought I’d pick some favorites and some variety, and give you some new things to check out.

Do you blog? Do you have a favorite blog you like to read? Share in the comments so we can check it out!