Fighting Hunger in Your Own Backyard

Family > Healthy Living > Fighting Hunger in Your Own Backyard

Today I’m working with a company that I have admired and enjoyed for years, the tastiest, packaged, real food out there, Larabar.

When I first found out I would get the chance to work with Larabar I assumed it would be using their products and I decided right away that I’d do a post on hiking, kids, and real food. When I got the project details though, the post took on a different theme. I’m grateful that I had the chance to work under their guidelines. Thank you for supporting the companies that I thoughtfully choose to work with.

Instead of talking about hiking today, we’re talking about hunger in America.

Ideas on Fighting Hunger in Your Own Backyard

Larabar is teaming up with Feeding America to help address the issue of hunger and empower you, the community, to join in working to #ShareRealFood across America. Larabar kicked off the partnership with a $150,000 donation to Feeding America and is sending a call to action to us to help spread the mission by sharing a photo, video or a tweet with #ShareRealFood telling them about your experience:

• Donating to a food bank in your community
• Volunteering at your local food bank
• Asking your local food bank how you can help fight hunger in your community
• Sharing a hunger fact on your social platforms
• Learning more about hunger in your community

I looked at the list and said, “What can I do?”. I donate canned food when someone knocks on my door and asks for it (the Scouts in our area do this occasionally), but actively working to fight hunger isn’t something I think about or participate in very often.

I had heard of Feeding America before but I wasn’t quite sure what they were and who they help.

Here’s what the Feeding America website describes the organization as:

The Feeding America network is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. The nationwide network of food banks provides more than 3.6 billion meals to virtually every community in the United States through food pantries and meal programs.

I spent a lot of time on the Feeding America website. I have never known hunger, and for that I’m grateful, but my heart kept going out to all those who have. There are all kinds of videos on the site about people they are helping. My favorite story was that of Gail, a working mom of 3 who didn’t qualify for food stamps but also didn’t make enough to adequately feed her family. She’s considered part of the “working poor.” I read the book Nickel and Dimed in college (it’s a case study about the working poor) and the ideas have stuck with me. In my own little bubble I have a friend who is a mom of five and who’s husband has a great job, but some months putting food on the table is harder than it should be. They live modestly but medical expenses due to some chronic illnesses and special needs children means that they often have to decide between food and gas for their car or food and medication. The Feeding America organization is helping 1 out of 7 American’s each year. Over half of those folks report having at least one employed person in the home in the last year, but the median household income of Feeding America clients is $927.

All this got me thinking.

Here’s what I plan to do.

Did you know that most food banks welcome fresh produce? I had no idea! I read this awesome post from my dear friend Cassie at Wholefully last year and it opened my eyes. I’ve decided that this year we are going to have a “community row” in our garden too, the row that we donate to those around us that can be distributed through our local food bank. Everyone deserves to have fresh tomatoes and vine ripened cantelope on their table in August.

I’m taking this one step further though. I’m involving the kids. I have planned a family night activity for us in which we will talk about the reality of hunger in America. I’m going to pick a few of the videos that Feeding America has produced to show them and then we’ll come up with a family action plan, our garden row included. I’m planning on having them get a few plants started in indoor pots (they’ll help plant the seeds that we’ll transplant to the garden later) and we’ll finish up the night with some dirt dessert. They’ll enjoy it and I think having some open dialague about real issues, even with children, helps them to better relate to the world around them and helps them to look outside of themselves. I’m excited!

If this sounds like something you’d like to do, please use the idea!

Ideas on Fighting Hunger in Your Own Backyard

If gardening isn’t in your future here’s another idea.

After talking about hunger with your family you could go on a trip to the grocery store and then to your local food bank. You could go with the goal of picking out healthy real food and then deliver it. Call your food bank and see what their policies are on perishables, produce, milk, and dairy. You could also include the always easy real food options… Larabars 🙂 Food banks need healthy food options to give to patrons because those types of foods generally carry a higher price tag than a box of that orange mac-n-cheese.

I thought this was really interesting. A survey commissioned by Larabar found that nearly 3 in 4 (72%) consumers believe that there is a difference between packaged food and real food; however, the majority think that fruits (90%) and nuts (78%) are real food. Larabars are made from 3 to 9 ingredients each and all of them are things you can read, mostly nuts and fruit. My kids always go for the Blueberry Muffin Larabars and they include dates, cashews, blueberries (and blueberry juice), lemon and vanilla. Done and done. My kids know what all of those things are! How great is that. After school real food snacks have never been so easy (or easy to get your kids to eat!).

Ideas on Fighting Hunger in Your Own Backyard

I hope you’ve been inspired in some simple ways you can help bring real food to your community. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this. And because Larabar is awesome they are hosting a giveaway!

Larabar Giveaway!

What you can win: a Larabar product prize pack (Estimate Retail Value: $30)
How to enter: Leave a comment on this post (I’d love to hear your experiences with Larabars/hunger/working poor/Feeding America)
BONUS: Share this awesome message on YOUR social media platform of choice, use #ShareRealFood, and drop the URL of your share in a separate comment
Winner will be randomly selected and notified via email. Contest closes Monday March 21, 2016 at 10pm (MST)
Open to all U.S. residents, age 18 and older

Thanks for being here. Good luck!

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Larabar.

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36 Responses
  1. vivian

    Hi Melissa: I live in Canada, where we have similar issues with hunger. I have been volunteering at a food bank for about 5 years now, and every week I see the faces of the hungry in our community. I also am part of the organizing committee for an annual food drive that supports that same food bank. Thank you for using your blog to raise awareness of the issue of food insecurity. One ting that I would like to add to the important information you have provided is that often non-food items are also both needed and welcomed. Items like diapers, laundry detergent, soap, shampoo and household cleaners, as well as feminine hygiene products are expensive to buy, but also necessary to a decent quality of life. Please consider these items as well. Thank you again for this important post.

  2. Diane

    What a great blog post. I know all about childhood hunger from my vantage point as a foster mom. Often a child in our care will ask ” do we get to eat lunch today” or warning me that if I go into that grocery store I had better have money because stuff costs money in there. I’m so happy to see these types of posts encouraging everyone to do something to help the hunger right in our own backyards. Kudos to you!

  3. Megan

    Working poor-wow! I so get that! Last year we had to cut our grocery budget completely to pay for an unexpected NICU stay for our baby. We have amazing family in our lives that never let us go hungry though. I couldn’t imagine looking at my two little boys, and not being able to feed them!

    I also really love the idea of a “community row” in the garden. I think I might do something similar! Thank you for sharing!!!

  4. Ty Gray

    It is sad that this has to be a concern. We need to be reminded that this problem exists and that there are things we can do to help.

  5. Tay Gudmundson

    I love love Larabars. I have one for breakfast every day! Expensive, but so good and healthy!! I love the awareness they are fighting for. I had no idea we could donate fresh food to food pantries. That is marvelous! I’m totally going to look into that.

  6. Veronika

    I love larabars! My go to flavor is the apple, and now I am craving one bad! ☺️ And thank you for sharing about hunger awareness, I really love love your garden idea!

  7. Cami S.

    What a great post! This really strikes home for me, because while Derek attended grad school, we were in that gap between not qualifying for food stamps due to a technicality and not having enough money for food. I remember crying at the grocery store because I couldn’t afford sour cream, fruits, meat, or any “extras”. We had canned beans and pasta regularly and I bulked up all our meals with rice and beans. I dreamed daily about getting to a point where I could buy blueberries, kiwi, fresh pineapple and beef without sacrificing milk or eggs. Sometimes I think back to that as I am filling my cart with fruit and veggies and feel so grateful that we are now in a position to afford healthy food. Anyways, I just wanted to say good job! I think your fresh produce will be a welcome addition at the food bank.

  8. Ashley

    Like you, my experience has usually involved donating canned goods when asked. Your post has made me want to get involved more. I love date and cashew bars and I would love the chance to try Lara bars. Thanks for your post!

  9. Marseille

    A few Thanksgivings ago my boys (4&8 at the time) were able to help deliver the food the scouts had collected to the food bank. This was specific food packets for kids that don’t eat when schools not in session. It was a neat experience for them to participate in.

  10. Courtney Wilson

    I love the Coconut Cream pie Larabars! So good!! Thanks for this post. I remember volunteering at food pantries/ soup kitchens when I was in high school, but haven’t done it really since. I’m definitely going to look up what I can do in my community.

  11. lachelle

    If Idaho will quit deciding it wants to hang on to winter, and we can get our garden improvements finished… I think the idea of a community row is awesome and totally want to try it! And I really want to try a Larabar now too.

  12. Ashley Petersen

    I was faced with the reality of hunger in America when we started to do foster care. There are children who really don’t get enough to eat or have enough but it isn’t fresh or diverse. One child said to me “wow I never knew so many foods could be good!” I told her that ithe is how they are prepared and bought fresh. She replied “you mean even steak can be good?”

  13. debbie

    Hi Melissa,
    Like you I have never known hunger. It is a blessing that I rarely think about. Thank you for your post that opens my eyes a little further to issues that surround me. I’m not sure how I will help yet but I will be thinking about it and making a plan.
    Over the past few years I have been working to incorporate more real food into my family’s diet (it’s most unappreciated). I love when I find convenience food that is made with real ingredients. Larabar is definitely one of those foods. I love how filling and delicious they are. Hopefully I can convince my kids to try one soon. The good thing is that I’m getting them to eat more fruits and vegetables and helping to educate them on why it’s important to eat real food.

  14. Elle

    I absolutely love the chocolate chip cherry torte Larabars. I could eat them all day, every day! Food is something that everyone needs so I love donating food items and helping those who can not afford to feed themselves.

  15. Melanie Stanford

    Absolutely love this idea. We’re trying to plot our new sprinkler system / yard and most importantly GARDEN out, and I’m hopeful that we grow enough that we can copy your idea. Although I have never known hunger, I did teach high school in an area where many students lived in food deserts and it’s something no child should have to face. Kids should worry about playing and who their friends are and maybe finishing a bit of homework, not wonder how they’re going to eat their next meal. Thanks for the great idea!

  16. Julie McGee

    I love my Larabars and love them even more after reading about the good they do. I love to garden and want to look more into donating my fresh veggies to feed the hungry close to me. Thank you for sharing!!!

  17. What a great post. I love your idea of a Community row in your garden . I wish we were at a place where that was a possibility. I will definitely be checking into some of these other ideas and getting my kids involved. I always want to teach them about giving to others as well as being thankful for what we have (food, full bellies).

  18. Alexandra robertson

    Hunger is so sad. I am glad there are programs to provide kids with breakfast at school to make sure they have fuel in their system to get through the day. Not all schools, but the ones growing up near me. Lara bars are a great snack. I love the simple ingredients and they taste so good. mY son loves them too.

  19. Lindy

    I love Larabar! They have the most simple ingredient list and are so tasty. Costco carried them for a minute but not anymore. 🙁

  20. Such a great idea, I wish my community did something like that. And I love larabars.simple ingredients. They taste good and i don’t have to worry about scary fake things in them!

  21. familynlifelv

    This really is such an amazing post. I love how you give real examples and doable ideas on how to help our community. I didn’t know about the Fresh Produce. I will have to ask ours now!

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Bless This Mess - About Me

I’m Melissa, and I want to help you feed your family wholesome food.

As a hobby farmer and mom of five, I’m all about keeping it simple in the kitchen. I want healthy meals that feed my family well, and then I want to get back to my (messy) life. Let’s work together to find something yummy for your dinner table.

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