To the Editor:
I want to bring to your attention a serious concern regarding food pantries. During my time of need, I received poor quality food that made me ill from a local food pantry. This issue is extremely important because there are many individuals and families within the community suffering from poverty and food insecurity that need this resource. Individuals deserve to have good quality food, whether it is free or not. In addition, not only do they deserve good quality food, but individuals deserve to be treated with respect. Giving away free food that is no good is disrespectful and inhumane. In fact, consuming bad food can lead to food poisoning and other infections. According to the Centers for Disease Control “Foodborne illnesses result in long-term health issues or even death.” The CDC also stated that “48 million people get sick from a foodborne illness each year and 128,000 are hospitalized from it and 3,000 people die.”
Dealing with poverty and being hungry or homeless can be overwhelming. Food pantries are a great resource for those dealing with food insecurity. To ensure that individuals are really provided with what they need, there needs to be quality control over food. All staff should be trained on what is appropriate and acceptable to distribute. More importantly, staff should practice empathy and think about the shoe being on the other foot. How would they feel if they needed these resources, and they were substandard? It all begins with treating each other with dignity, respect, love, and compassion.