Give food, win prize

Sure, I know it’s for a good cause. Everything is for a good cause. Everyone needs time and money and energy, for a good cause.

I’m talking about giving to charities. And participating in fundraisers.

We do what we can. We have our selection, based on careful research (HOW is the money used? WHAT percentage of our money is put toward the cause? WHAT percentage is used toward sending more useless advertising?).

The schools, especially the ones in the public system, rely heavily on fundraising. Which is fine…I guess. I’m the parent of a senior Kindergartener, and have only been in this for two years, but I have to say the fundraising is incredible. It’s everywhere and all the time.

Now that we’re into the holidays, the fundraising is slightly overshadowed by the charities. One thing Benjamin keeps talking about is the food drive at his school.

There are food drives everywhere you look. Food drives are fine, they’re great.

But I do have some beef with them.

For one thing, the type of food that is requested is often of the non-perishable nature (naturally). I understand why, but when I see the lists of acceptable items, it astonishes me that this type of food is actually desired by people who live on or below the poverty line.

Canned soup? Most people can afford to buy a can of soup. But. It’s not the healthiest type of soup to eat, and homemade soup is one of the cheapest, and potentially most nutritious type of meal you could make at home in less time than you might think. Just ask Jamie Oliver!  Think of our ancestors, or even just people a few generations behind us, who would make soup from food harvested in gardens, the wild, even forests. And make full-fledged, nutritious, and delectable meals to feed a whole family.

Mac and Cheese? Ok, real cheese isn’t cheap, but the mac and cheese that comes in a box is icky.  Look at the sodium content. Look at the food additives. Look at all the artificial ingredients. Making pasta with a touch of olive oil, or even butter, with a sprinkle of real cheese (instead of that goopy icky stuff made out of fake food) is healthier and better and, best of all, cheap. Donate that pasta, but forgo the mac and cheese. Really, you’re not doing that little hungry kid a favour giving him fake food to soothe his tummy.

But the point I’m trying to make isn’t really so much about the food itself that we donate. The point is more about the message my 5 year old is receiving and passing on at home.

The message is this:

Whichever classroom brings in the most food will get a prize!

A prize.

What prize?

Why does there need to be a prize?

The prize is not the point. And although I realize that the teachers are probably passing on the ‘true meaning’ of donating food, the message the little kids are hearing is that there will be a prize.

I asked Ben what the prize is. He didn’t know.

The last thing we need in this house is more moulded plastic crap made in China. Which is quite possibly what this elusive prize is going to be.

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