“You will have to eat bread and milk for dinner tonight,” she said every now and then.My mother wasn’t lazy. She birthed 11 children, eight of us at home and breast fed all of us. We lived on a small farm in North Dakota “in the boon docks” so to speak, no school bus service, not on the main road, 32 miles from my high school.
We grew our own food and harvested a field of potatoes as well as a large garden. We raised cattle and poultry and Mother taught us to can everything from veggies to fruit to meat. The root cellar looked beautiful each fall with all the canned goods, potato bin full, carrots stored in buckets of sand, and cabbages wrapped in newspaper for deep winter meals.
As I reflect on my childhood, we were poor but I didn’t know it. I thought everyone lived like we did. Didn’t all kids sleep three to a bed? We had no running water, used an “outhouse,” no TV or telephone, and no electricity for many years. My parents worked every day to raise 11 children. Some nights we ate bread and milk, but I didn’t go hungry, maybe a little by morning.
The other day I listened to BBC news and the reporter spoke about Russian authorities destroying great amounts of food supplied by countries from Europe, bulldozing the food into piles and burning it to protest Europe’s support of Ukraine and humanitarian causes. At this time of year in Homer when abundant growth seems greater than usual and raspberries fall into my bucket day after day, the story of Russia’s government destroying food seemed like a dream, like someone telling a cruel joke. Who imagines such an action a solution to a political situation?
My parents taught me food was precious, never to waste, take only the amount to satisfy hunger, and leave food for the next person. Guests were always offered food.
People in Homer share. They share not only their hearts and homes but food from abundant gardens and their tables. “U” pick signs announce the excess of food. The Homer Farmers Market overflows with delicious fresh produce, prepared food, seafood, jams, jellies, flowers, music, laughter, stories shared.
Restaurant doors in this town open and close every day as people enter and leave satisfied. Fresh halibut, salmon, cod, rockfish, oysters, clams, crab, shrimp and scallops are seafoods we enjoy regularly in Homer. The Homer Spit churns with people and at times when a person walks on the spit and observes the action, it seems food oozes from every shop, every boat, and life so vibrant a person can hear human energy push a life force to match the mountains.
Can life get richer than what we enjoy at the end of the road, as far as a person can go without a passport? Yet, we have people in need of the food pantry at the same time food becomes compost because there is such abundance? Below are a few statistics on who’s hungry in Alaska.
In 2013 Alaskans gave $70,049 to hunger through Pick Click Give. One in seven Alaskan adults and one in five children are hungry.
In an average week, 100,000 pounds of food leave the Alaska Food Bank warehouse in Anchorage. A portion of that comes to Homer. Most food donated locally originates in Homer.
Children who qualify for school lunches during the school year are often hungry during summer months as their nutritional intake is greatly reduced.
People using the food pantry often hold jobs and supplement groceries at the end of the month.
September is Hunger Action Month in Alaska. With garden abundance and budgets being stretched at every level, let us as a community make Homer a Hunger Free Zone not just at the holidays.
Let’s all pay it forward to distribute the wealth of food so no one is hungry, no child left nutritionally insecure, no veteran, no senior, no person on the street. A big shout out to all the volunteers who faithfully work at the Homer Community Food Pantry.
There is food enough for all.
Flo Larson is a Homer Foundation board member.
KBBI is looking for a volunteer to help stuff envelopes for a mailing on Sept. 8, 9 and/or 10 any time between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Located at 3913 Kachemak Drive in town by city hall.
Contact: 235-7721 ext. 221 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Homer Council on the Arts is in need of volunteers to paint (interior walls) and a sound system for the gallery.
Contact: Peggy Paver
Homer Head Start needs an indoor bench and a shoe rack.
Contact: Martha Wagel
Little Fireweed School is looking for a large conference table.
Contact: Kiki Abrahamson
Homer Hockey Association is in desperate need of some kind of printer/copier.
Contact: Heidi Stage
Sprout needs all sizes of diapers for the Sprout Diaper Bank and winter coats, boots and gear for children ages 0-5 years old.
Contact: Tara Hagge