One of my most favorite job-related duties involves spreading the word about Second Harvest Food Bank as a guest speaker at functions and meetings throughout Central Florida. This morning I had the opportunity to do that once again. Like most of my talks, I was given a window of 10-15 minutes, and was told that my audience was interested in hearing about the importance of giving back to the community.
I arrived at the appointed time, and arranged my “props.” I had brought along 26 pieces of plastic toy food items to distribute among those in the room. I began by asking everyone to tell me what it feels like when they are really, really hungry. Some of the answers included “my stomach makes noises,” and “I just feel really tired.” Then I asked what kinds of food everyone likes to eat when they feel that way. I heard about a wide variety of tasty items like tomatoes, celery, French fries, Pineapple, Pizza, and others.
Then we played a game. I asked everyone to imagine that they were very, very hungry. The audience closed their eyes, and many covered their stomachs with their arms.
I then handed out the toy food items, making sure to give at least two items to each one. Unfortunately, before everyone could get the food—it ran out. There wasn’t enough, and about half a dozen ended up with no food at all. I apologized for that, and then turned to those who had food in their hands. “OK—We’re all SO hungry. Now we’re going to have a party, and eat our food together—won’t that be fun?!” I asked. But instead of smiles and cheers, I saw only concerned faces as they looked at those who were holding nothing in their hands.
With no prompting from me, one of the audience members who held two pieces of food in her hands said to one of her friends “Here, you can have one of mine…” Immediately, others who held more than one piece began to stand up and share with those who had been left out of the process. They clearly weren’t prepared to celebrate or have any kind of party unless everyone could participate. What a concept.
We could all learn a lesson, I think, from the five-year old students in Ms. Keri and Ms. Stacey’s Pre-Kindergarten class at Trinity Lutheran School in downtown Orlando. As you may have guessed, they were the audience to whom I was invited to speak this morning. Because my own son Colin was one of those who had been left without food during this exercise, I was particularly gratified that someone chose to share a plastic hot dog with him.
As we talked about giving, and how the process of food donations works, I realized that I was really preaching to the choir. These youngsters knew instinctively what was the right thing to do. It just makes sense. When we have enough for ourselves, and our friends don’t have enough….it feels good to share. It really does feel good, doesn’t it?
Thank you to all in Central Florida who make that decision to share their food, and their money, and their precious time to help keep the food flowing for so many of our friends and neighbors!
Vice President, Development