“Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Yesterday, I went to the Capital Area Food Bank.  The CAFB serves the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia (DMV).

There are 700,000 hungry people in the DMV area.

Of those, 200,000 are children.

The CAFB depends on corporate and local food drives, but get most of their food from Giant Foods and Safeway.

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The CAFB offers many programs to serve this segment of the population  They offer a brown bag service that gives a bag full of groceries for the elderly every week.  They also have a Kids Cafe and a weekend bag program that gives children on the free and reduced lunch programs in their schools, food during off school hours, as many of them would not eat otherwise.

19% of those served are under the age of 17

11% of those served are over the age of 65

Along with these programs, they have a “shopping floor” where area agencies and shelters can get food to feed those involved with them.  That’s where I worked yesterday.

Aug 3, 2009

It was amazing, heart breaking and hard all at once.  Amazing because there was a little elderly lady who came in who donated a small bag of canned goods and a note that said “God Bless.”  Not to judge by appearances, but surely this was a big gift for her.  Heart breaking when we found boxes of opened goods and others that mice had gotten to.  It was hard to think that the food would not go to families in need, but the CAFB takes the food and gives it to some pig farmers so it doesn’t go to waste.  It was hard because stocking shelves for hours can be back breaking and at times it wasn’t fun.  I just kept reminding myself that I wasn’t doing it for anyone, not the other volunteers, not the coordinator, just to help in the best way that I can.

There are countless ways that you too can help fight hunger in your community.

*Find a local food bank and donate a couple of hours of your time- we’re all busy but that time you spent vegging on the couch watching Real Desperate Housewives Marathons could have been spent helping others, that’s what DVR is for.

*When you go grocery shopping and find a steal, grab a few extra and have a bag set aside for donations- If you’re a Costco member and you get a mega 6 pack of pasta, give one away, you’re still getting a great deal and a family of four won’t have to worry about dinner one night.

*Support businesses that are doing more. Shoprite and General Mills are offering a Blog It Forward program.

ShopRite Partners In Caring, a regional hunger-fighting initiative is partnering with General Mills to raise awareness about the issue of hunger.  the ShopRite Partners In Caring program has donated $2 million annually to local food banks – $20 million to date.  In these troubled economic times, there is more need for food assistance than ever in our communities and we need to get the word out!  That’s why we’re asking for your help.General Mills and ShopRite will donate one box of cereal to a food bank in ShopRite’s trading area for the first 30 people who comment on your post.

That’s right… another way to help is to leave a comment on this post.  Most of us don’t know what it’s like to be hungry.  We are “starving” if it’s been too many hours since breakfast.  There are many out there who know true hunger and if 10 seconds of your time can make a difference, do it.

Please support Partner’s In Caring and All Vegged Out in this effort. I know this isn’t a traditional giveaway because you aren’t getting anything, but someone will definitely benefit.  Sometimes it’s worth being selfless!

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