We’ve talked about who needs food banks (people like you and I), and the kinds of products food banks frequently receive and the services they offer. Food Banks Canada is an incredible, essential resource for hundreds of thousands of people and families every year. It’s inspiring, and there’s a lot you can do to help.
You can donate food. Food drives during the holidays are a great start, and food donation bins at your local supermarket are a great way to give all year. Do you shop at places like Superstore (or other Loblaw’s stores), or Shopper’s Drug Mart? Take advantage of points programs (PC Plus and the Shopper’s Optimum program, respectively) that reward you with points toward cash to buy more than you need and donate the excess, or cash in your extra points for groceries you can donate anytime of year.
You can donate money. You can give once, or you can set up monthly donations. You can also make a gift in honour of a friend or family member, either in celebration or in memory. Wondering where your money goes? Read Food Banks Canada’s Donor Impact Report.
You can donate time. Consider hosting a food drive, starting a fundraiser, or setting up a food donation bin in your workplace or school. Get the whole family involved and make hunger an issue you tackle together.
You can change the conversation online. We talk a lot about food porn and foodies, but not enough about food security or food justice. Tweet about hunger. Participate in #FoodbankFriday on Instagram and share your donation with your audience to inspire them to do the same. And share on Facebook about food drives in your area to draw attention to campaigns to food bank stock shelves in your community.
You can bug your politicians. And, as we’re right smack in the middle of election season, you can ask your candidates what they plan to do to address poverty and hunger in your community and across the country. Make them earn your vote, and put them to work once they’re elected. Politicians aren’t food insecure; don’t let them forget that many people are and that they can do something about it.
My last Hunger Awareness Week recipe is a breakfast recipe, because people who have a little something in their bellies to start the day perform better at work, have fewer accidents, and have the energy to get through the day. Kids who eat breakfast are less disruptive in school, pay more attention, and are less likely to act out. This recipe for overnight barley porridge is easy, and requires just five minutes in the morning. Take advantage of your microwave to fake the taste of baked apples. This is way better than cold buttered toast as you run out the door.
Overnight barley porridge with “baked” apples
- 1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
- 1/4 tsp. coarse salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 lb. sweet, firm-fleshed apples (such as ambrosia, honeycrisp or braeburn; about two medium apples), peeled, cored and diced
- 1 tsp. butter
- 2 tsp. brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
In a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, bring barley, salt and three cups of cold water to a boil. Once it’s hit a rolling boil, turn off the heat and slap the lid on it. Let it sit on your stove overnight.
When you wake up in the morning, place diced apples, butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in a microwave-safe bowl, and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Microwave on high for four minutes.
Meanwhile, add half a cup of milk, brown sugar and cinnamon to barley, and stir to break up the grains. Heat for three to five minutes, until liquid is bubbling and grains are hot.
Serve porridge in bowls, topped with apples and additional sugar, as desired.