Super Bowl Sunday – Souper Bowl of Caring
|February 1, 2014||Posted by Marcia Mantell under My Retirement Kitchen|
In our small New England town, community service is an expectation and a privilege. All of our 8th graders are required to log in 8 hours of community service as part of the formal curriculum. For those students interested in helping out our retired citizens, there are many opportunities from shoveling out elderly neighbors during our crazy winter storms to organizing a singing group to perform at a local nursing home. We have a Council on Aging that sometimes needs tech support and a food pantry that needs shelves restocked.
Several years ago when my younger daughter was in 8th grade, she chose to work at the food pantry. Food is an important part of our family: dinners are a nightly sit-down affair, if even for only 15 minutes; and our holiday traditions include Christian and Jewish classic meals, plus we cook for Cinco de Mayo dinner, just because it’s fun. We all go to the grocery store and everyone chooses what they want for a meal or for a treat. There is never a thought if we will have enough money to pay for a cart loaded to overflowing with our favorite foods.
It was interesting that my younger daughter wanted to work at the pantry. Because 8th graders are young, they also need a parent chaperone. That was me. I got to hang out at the Community Council building while the kids stocked and restocked shelves, did some clean up and helped out Sandy, who runs the place. Naturally curious, I couldn’t help but ask about the services that are provided at our local Community Council. We live in a relatively well-to-do town, and frankly, I was surprised that we had a food pantry at all. Who was coming in for assistance on a weekly basis? Were they local residents or did families from less well-off communities come in?
Turns out that some 200 families in our town use the local food pantry. And, the vast majority of them are retired! That really shocked me. But Sandy explained that in a town where property taxes are high, utilities are expensive and it’s generally higher-priced living, seniors on a fixed income often need a little help to keep their own kitchens stocked. They are still independent, want to (or have to) live in their homes or apartments in the town where they raised their kids, and are often alone. The food pantry provides a critical resource for many of our local retirees. The larger umbrella organization, the Community Council, also provides (at no cost) medical supplies such as wheelchairs, crutches, walkers and so on. There is a thrift shop that helps our seniors find much needed winter gear and small gift items. And, the van service picks up seniors for medical appointment and council members set up a “boutique” at local nursing homes to bring shopping to the residents.
In a land-of-plenty, it was quite a wake-up call that our own retired neighbors would need some assistance. As a result of this community service work, we support the Community Council with donations, and often shop at Costco to help stock up the shelves with food items the pantry is requesting that month. Everyone tends to make contributions in November and December for the holidays, which is very nice. But Sandy is the one who shared with me that the times our pantry runs low is February and March and again in the summer when 75% of our town heads to Cape Cod for the season.
It was very exciting to hear about a national organization that is helping to combat hunger in America on Super Bowl Sunday. Just when local food pantries are getting short on supplies, the Souper Bowl of Caring (read about this terrific organization at their website) uses “the energy of the Super Bowl to mobilize youth in a united national effort to care for people in their local communities who are hungry and those in need.”
I’ll be checking around my town to see if any youth group is participating in Souper Bowl Sunday and make a contribution. And, if not, my family will make our own “Souper Bowl” donations to our food pantry.
What will you be doing today to help the retired citizens in your hometown before the big game?