As we approach Thanksgiving, we’re all reminded that this time of year is all about feasting. Families, friends, and communities all join together to EAT.
I’m also reminded of all the good I see in my community around food insecurity during this season. My girls’ hockey league is passionate about empowering their players to learn about making a difference. These young athletes work towards a common goal, raising food for The Gift of Giving Back.
At Mabel’s Labels, we participate in a competitive food-drive for The Good Sheppard. Within my school community, I’m reminded of the amazing work of Halton Food For Thought, providing students with a nutritious start of the day. I also have friends and peers working hard to fill the shelves of the Burlington Food Bank and The Compassion Society.
But while all this good is being done, it starkly reminds of MY privilege around food security. Let me explain.
Approximately a year ago, one of my children started experiencing severe stomach issues. Over the last year, I have spent a ridiculous amount of money dealing with his inflamed gut and food sensitivities. He now has a pediatric gastroenterologist, but in an effort to understand his gut issues I’ve paid for stool tests, blood tests, and every other thing you can imagine. It has been expensive. And because of his twenty-six food sensitivities, he requires a specific diet that involves expensive food items and me spending a large amount of my time in the kitchen to accommodate his needs.
So, here’s the thing. What if you can’t afford all the gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, sugar-free, everything-free things your kid needs? Because, frankly, my kid’s dietary needs are costing me a small fortune.
And if I couldn’t afford to feed him what he requires to remain healthy, he would be sick and in pain constantly.
Imagine if I were a single mom on a tight income and working long hours. How could I afford the trips to the specialists and the expensive food substitutes? What if I didn’t have the time, resources or energy (after being over-worked) to prepare his time-consuming meals every day?
The reality is that I would have to feed my kid what I could afford. Convenient, filling meals that would keep him from starving, but would rot his gut. The outcome would be devastating. He would be in chronic pain and not be able to concentrate in school. It would overwhelm and distract him and hinder his ability to learn. He would not be set up for success.
So, while we are filling shelves at food banks, I’m left wondering about the struggle of parents of children like mine who have less. Families who are working so hard just to make ends meets and deserve the same specialized care and diet that my child is now so lucky to have. I can’t imagine how things would be if I was not able to provide him in the way he needs.
This year, I want to remember that I have so much to be thankful for during this season when we are eating and enjoying – and hopefully never forget that so many others may not have what we have. What are you doing to remember others at this time?