Feeding the World – Lessons from Nepal

Most of my time in Nepal was full of wonder. I was amazed by new views, new people and new experiences. It was so different that I was not often reminded of home. But in the final days of my first trip, I saw this:

It’s a a donkey train. Like the yak trains higher up, they carry supplies, mostly food, from village to village. And then, as they passed me, I noticed that each donkey was laden with two 50 kilo (110 lb) bags that looked like this:

“USAID from the American People”

One of the things that America is well known for is its ability to feed the world. Name a struggling country and chances are the US spends time and money providing staples to its people. While I was in Nepal, lack of food was not prevalent. Everywhere I went on both trips, I was offered food after food after food. It’s what Nepalis do in their culture: invite you into their humble homes and feed you everything they have. Happily. So when I heard today that in my own state of Washington, 1.1 million people had their food funding cut beginning today, I spent a moment sorting that out. We go to enormous effort to push staples into foreign countries, but we can’t feed our own people? One in six Washington State residents will skip meals in the coming months because “we can’t afford it anymore,” according to the government.

But that’s the government talking. “We can’t afford it.” As with most things that seem illogical, politics are at play here. I won’t go into things that the US government can afford, but apparently feeding its own people isn’t one of them anymore. So I thought I’d pull out my idealist self and offer a work around. But it takes more than just me (as usual) so listen to this: How about next time you (and I) go to the grocery store, you get an extra sixth of your groceries – same stuff as you buy for yourself, and then go to the nearest shelter and drop it off on your way home. If you don’t know where they are, here’s a map.

One in six people will potentially miss 16 meals due to these cuts. And it’s not a huge amount of money – $11 to $36 per month (per person) has been removed from the government funding. I bet you wouldn’t even miss that from your own paycheck. It’s one pizza or one quick meal out this month.

It’s officially the holiday season, with any luck, you’re hungover from bite-size-sugar-stuffed morsels of last night’s escapades. Before you get all frenzied with the commercial gift-along, grab some simple groceries for someone who will appreciate it. In case you need more encouragement, or think it isn’t something that would affect anyone you know, you really need to read this.

It’s the holiday season. Go be a good egg*. Make someone’s day. Or month.

* – While that might (or might not) entail sharing this piece on your favorite social media, it definitely entails driving or walking your very own self to the store followed by the food bank. Go.