I stepped away from this space after launching the French Kids Eat Everything giveaway in order to engage in an entirely different food experience: I Chaired our school’s Annual Food Drive. As I made my rounds through our hallways with a (very loud) flat bed trolley, my mind wandered to how esoteric our discussions here have become. Fresh soups and veggies and nutritionally superlative lunch boxes…the stuff we discuss over a Starbucks, contemplating the virtues of a restricted diet. We breeze over gluten, dairy, meat, soy and other food devils we’ve been warned will inflame our guts and muddle our brains. Never during these chats have I heard a Mother bemoan the cost of milk or the fact that she simply cannot afford fresh spinach which we must now carefully wash lest we die from salmonella (where would we be without our media storms?). This week, I didn’t touch an ounce of produce, and wow…I didn’t care. As I unpacked the countless donation bags, I was so grateful for food that would fill bellies and last on a shelf. For perhaps the first time in my life, I was overwhelmingly grateful for processed foods. I’ve donated food before, but I’ve never pondered it on such a large scale.
Our school has a population of 405 kids, and with their collective energies, they gathered 6,189 items of food. These numbers will feed approximately 619 families (of 4) for an entire day. That’s 2, 475 people, or 7,426 meals. In this picture, you see me standing by less than half of the food collected. Our kind and amazing little scholars brought such a singular focus to the game, 28 hours after the drive ended, the food was still rolling in. It took 2 busloads to get it to the Neighborhood Center near our school. We did it without class against class contests. We did it without treats. We told the kids if they beat last year’s collection by 10%, they could have an extra recess. We baited the week with the gift of time, but I know if we had no lure, this week would have played out the same. These are the kind if children that if you give them a pizza party, they’ll skip the party and ask you to donate the money. What can I say? I know some really amazing kids.
How to pick out an Event Chairman’s Child: Unbrushed hair, wildly mismatched outfits, random lunch box fillings. My kids share me with an entire school on event weeks, and I couldn’t be prouder of them. Plus, they accept flat bed trolley rides as payment, which are just RAD when I’m driving.
At today’s Spirit Assembly, with the band playing and their hands adorned with the world’s coolest foam fingers, they listened respectfully as the Director of the Food Bank explained to them there was no food left. Until today. Their efforts had reopened the pantry, stocked the shelves, and allowed for kids who live very, very near our building…TO EAT. I nearly fell over from joy. And exhaustion. Oh Lordy, I hurt everywhere.
Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who participated. Especially to the kids and teachers I’ve grown to love so much over these past 5 years, and to my girlfriends who purchased and carried more cans than they’d ever like to count (but counted they did…so much of the counting). No matter my Cause Du Jour, my girlfriends are always staunchly at my side, cheering me onward. Of course to Greg, who put away the laundry, washed the dishes, and figured out how to fit 2 kids and 480 foam fingers into my minivan. He gets the “Doesn’t bat at an eye during his wife’s mental breakdown at 5:45 am while she stands at her car door yelling, ‘I can’t see out of the windows!!! The assembly is in 3 hours! There is FOOD EVERYWHERE!!! AHHHHGGGG!!’” Award. Lastly, and super sleuth secret thank you to the family who, upon hearing we met the goal, anonymously contributed an extra 10% (but apparently they are as good at math as I am, because they went way over 10%), just because they believe in our school and believe in the Food Drive. Awesome is everywhere.
And FOOD IS LOVE. Food is love.
*Don’t forget to read the post below and leave a comment to be entered into a drawing to win an autographed copy of Karen Le Billon’s French Kids Eat Everything. The drawing is Sunday, and the book is life-changing!*