Friday, February 20, 2009

Notes From My Knapsack 2-26-09
Jeff Gill

Food Matters, Now More Than Ever

This Saturday, Feb. 28, many of you in the 43023 zip code will find a brown paper grocery bag with a yellow flyer stapled to it, tucked in your front door or under the mat.

Your friends with Granville’s Cub Scout Pack 3, 150 young men from 1st to 5th grades, will be driven about by parents and den leaders to deliver, each den to a particular neighborhood, these bags and the instructions for our annual community food drive for the Licking County Food Pantry Network.

The idea is that you can, if you would, put canned and other non-perishable goods into this bag, put it back out before 9 am on Saturday, March 7, and we will go out again that morning and pick up any bags we see outside on doorsteps with that bright yellow flyer fluttering proudly.

In truth, we will deliver about 3,000 bags wherever we can, but the odds are we won’t get to everyone (sorry about that!). And there’s some chance, albeit small, that we might miss a bag or two on pick-up day, March 7, but we’ll try hard to cruise and re-check where we can.

What is very kind of Greg Ross down at Granville Market is that they will also have on sale that week bags of canned goods, and you can just pay a few bucks and then leave that bag (blue flyer!) down there. On March 7, the truck for the Licking County Food Pantry Network will be in the Granville Market parking lot, where our dens will shuttle back and forth to drop off what you put out. If you want to bring your bag on by, the truck will be there and staffed from about 9 am to 1 pm.

In previous years we’ve had the truck up by Opera House Park, which is great for visibility, but awkward for traffic flow. Scary near-misses had us thinking about a safer, easier plan, and again thanks to the Ross’ and Granville Market for helping make this work out.

Obviously, this is a critical time for food pantries all over, let alone here in Licking County. Suppliers have reduced donated goods and tightened warehouse overstocks, and purchases have gone up even in bulk.

Add in a huge impact to food pantries from the recent peanut product scare and recall, and you have a spring beginning with way too much vacant shelf space in area food pantries.

For those of us fortunate enough to not need the services of a food pantry, the subject of food is a vital one, and I hope we who have a bit to share can pile the bags high this year for those who don’t. My next column is going to come at food from a different angle, as I’ve been working through Mark Bittman’s new book “Food Matters” and thinking about gardening and local food supplies and the lessons of salmonella and energy costs and our only growth area in the US these days being our waistlines.

So watch this space, where I hope to share some good news with the outcomes and totals of our community food drive, and some good suggestions out of “Food Matters,” because it surely does.

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; you can get more info on the Pack 3 Food Drive at their blog,

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