I grew up in a family with economic limits so I have an idea of what doing without can mean, but I never had to go hungry. I count that as a measure of wealth — at least we always had food on the table. And a roof over our heads even tho sometimes that meant my grandma’s tiny 2 bedroom house or my aunt’s smaller apartment when my dad was unemployed & mom was pregnant with #4 of 5.

Right now, tho, I have to use food banks to round out my senior’s food budget. Disabled since 1998 & before that having worked mostly part time so my social security is pretty slim, I struggle to get by. At the moment my car isn’t functioning & I don’t have the $ to fix it. I have to ask friends for rides & I absolutely hate asking even tho they’ve never expressed any impatience about it.

It’s not that I’d go hungry without this food. But I’d feel a lot less human & my meals would be a lot less varied.

I don’t mind at all that “nearly expired” stuff. Most items in my town’s pantry have quantity limits: 4 cans fruit, 4 protein items, etc. But the nearly expired items we can take as much as we want so they don’t have to be thrown out.

The people, organizations, & companies who help stock our pantry are quite generous & those nearly expired items are frequently baked goods that are real treats. Like the heavenly chocolate cake from Whole Foods with a price tag of $20 if I’d had to buy it. Or the quarts and quarts and quarts of soup cooked by a master chef who prepares the food for EPIC’s cafeterias [EPIC is THE electronic medical records company w/a campus growing by leaps & bounds even during recessions].

We also get to take as much as we want of fresh fruit & veggies that are only a few days away from rotting. In the summer/early fall those come from gardens grown by EPIC & UW Health employees, so they are super fresh & organic. Those are truly special. [And not close to expiration!]

The about to expire baked goods, home cooked soups, & fresh fruit & veggies add much pleasure to my meals.

I understand & appreciate the sentiment of giving one’s best, but don’t hesitate to donate nearly expired goods. They’ll round out menus for weeks to come.



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Georgia NeSmith

Retired professor, feminist, writer, photographer, activist, grandmother of 5, overall Wise Woman. Phd UIA School of Journalism & Mass Communication, 1994.