He who seeketh, findeth

August 12, 2007

How To Send Excess Food To The Poor At No Extra Cost

Filed under: Reason for Breathing,Thoughts and Reflections,World Issues — Steve (Chessiq) @ 12:38 am

Two Major Reasons For Not Sending Food To The Poor
For some reason it appears that even nature favors the rich. The rich or developed countries do not suffer famine, droughts, epidemics, etc at the rate that the poor and underdeveloped countries do. I will not give reasons for that. However, I will try to address one of the major issues that affect the citizens of the rich and the poor countries: Food. The poor are dying of hunger while the rich are throwing away food. I remember hearing that in America (USA) people eat half of their food and toss the remainder away without thinking twice about it. Of course, it is not everybody who does that. People in the developed world see pictures (print and television) of big Americans, and what can one surmise? They eat too much. Not always true. I remember years ago, some of my friends were wondering why people and restaurants with excess food do not ship it to the poor in underdeveloped countries. Two major reasons were offered. First, it is so expensive to fly/transport things over there. “Those people are a world away”. Not really a world away! The second reason is that the food would not make it there in good time. It would be bad before it got there.

An idea:
I was looking at a Chess game the other day and I saw a backward pawn. I saw an opposing knight rows away. Usually when a good chess player sees something like that, she thinks of bringing the knight over so that it can sit in front of the pawn, assuming that it will not be captured or exchanged with impunity. So, we have a goal, and we need to find ways of reaching that goal without incurring extra expense or cost or loss. The backward pawn is hunger, the Knight is food that we need to put in front of the pawn, and how do we do that? If there is a piece that can capture the Knight before it makes its way there, we may try to eliminate that piece by taking it out or offering a decoy or whatever. Enough Chess! If I have a hamburger at home that was left over from lunch, it would be an ungodly expense for me to ship it to Africa or Asia, for example. However, I can convert that hamburger into money and send it to Africa, and they can buy food there. The trick here is for me to stop looking at the food I am eating as the same food they should eat. I will provide a means for them to have food. Now, let us look at how this can be accomplished by individuals, organizations, and governments.

Individuals:
Individuals throw away food all the time. I have to stop myself from doing it because I know how it feels to be hungry and not know if I will have food the next day, or to go to work without taking lunch because I have got other bills to pay. I can only imagine how it would be to not know where the food will come from for months or years.
There are several ways to avoid waste. First, you can cut your food up before you take a bite. I found out that if I have a big sandwich and I just bite into it without cutting into two halves or four quarters, and I get full before I finish it, I can easily throw away what is left. It is not as appetizing with “teeth marks” on it. If, however, I cut it up nicely, I either remain with a quarter, two quarters, or one half, that looks nice and it is easier for me to keep it. If I refrigerate it or freeze it, I can have it for supper or breakfast the next day. That is I have just saved myself some money and time that I could have spent getting myself a meal. You may say this is only $2 or $5 or $25 or you know how much you spend on your meals. But if you do this consistently or frequently, you will have saved $10 a month and $120 a year and you can donate that money to the WORLD VISION, RED CROSS, or OXFAM. They provide various services including provision of food to people stricken by famine and poverty. That is one way in which the food that is so expensive to ship to the poor can be made available to them. By being a little creative on how we eat. The second way also includes avoiding waste. I wanted to say prepare only what you can eat. But I will not! I say, if you have food, eat only what you need to eat, instead of just eating because the food is available. The best way to do that is to think as you eat. If you eat food without thinking, you may over-eat. It has happened to me that I eat several bags of pop-corn and when each bag comes to an end, I wonder where it went! Now I know exactly how much I want to eat, and as I am lifting the food to my mouth, I know exactly how much is remaining before it is finished, or before I am full. Watching what you eat, by eating only when you are hungry, and eating just enough, could have some health benefits which I will not go into. I think that if you plan your eating, you will limit waste, and the savings from that can be used to support any charitable organization that can provide food to the people.

Restaurants, Hotels, and Other Food Service Providers:
I think there is also a lot of waste in the food service industry. This costs everybody money. What kind of things are wasted? Produce that is going bad, food that has been prepared but cannot be sold (and cannot be kept to be sold the next day because it is against the law), etc. The waste is in the food itself, as well as the effort, time, and money that was involved in getting the food from the ‘farm’ to the dumpster. A way to avoid the waste is either to donate the food to the homeless – which are the local ‘poor’, or cut down on costs to donate the money that is saved from that to HUNGER RELIEF ORGANIZATIONS. You may click here for a list: BREAD FOR THE WORLD. Cutting costs to reduce waste can be achieved by studying eating patterns of your customers. Doing this for a year or several years will give you enough data to use in your decision making regarding how much produce you should buy and how much food you should prepare at any given point in time. You may then donate your savings. If you do not want to donate directly, you could pass on the savings to your customers by lowering the cost of the food. Thus, your customers will have more money to ’spend’ and hopefully, they can use it wisely, by helping the poor.

Governments:
Rich governments have resources to audit how money that is intended for the poor is spent. They already do other things like making taxpayer contributions to Charitable Organizations tax-exempt. Without getting into tax and accounting issues, I would suggest that Governments should make donations to charitable organization be tax-exempt in addition to the standard deduction. This would give extra incentive for the people who don’t donate much to donate knowing that it is going to benefit them during tax-filing time. Of course, here there is a cost to the government in lost revenue! May be not! The goodwill that could be generated in other countries could be more beneficial. That is a subject for another day.

Conclusion:
Food can be sent to the poor in far away places at no extra cost if we are a little creative in how we think and if we are serious about adjusting our life style to lend a helping hand. We just need to find a way to convert the food here into a medium, money, that will be sent over there, to be converted back to food. One way to make that conversion is to save or avoid waste, and then use the savings/money to help the poor by donating it to be people whose vocation it is, to help the poor in person. (This last sentence eliminates the question, “who will take the food/money there”? The people to do it are already there. They just need your help and support.)

Your comments, ideas and suggestions on anything presented in this piece would be greatly appreciated.

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