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Food recovery stories even Debbie Downer can appreciate!

November 19, 2013
Leanne Mazurick

In a world where we are oftentimes inundated with negative information, it can be hard to find any stories with a positive ending. I love a good ending to a story but I, for one, am notorious for being a Debbie Downer at family events or gatherings with friends. You know, that person who can always find a social justice issue to bring up after someone says something completely innocent. For example, a simple “Happy Thanksgiving everyone” and I’m launching into the history of the injustices done to the Native Americans and how they were forced from their land and then somehow dragging current politics into the conversation, all from a simple holiday greeting! I am getting better at not bringing my Debbie Downer to events, realizing that it’s not the best way to get my point across and it does tend to spoil any any uplifting stories that might find their way into a conversation.  It is a work in progress since I am such a passionate person about issues that are important to me and social injustice doesn’t take a holiday.

And so in turning over a new leaf, I have two stories with positive outcomes to share that unfortunately do start out with Debbie Downer moments…but hang in there for the inspiring parts, okay?

Just recently I read this statistic from the USDA: “Food waste in the United States is estimated at roughly between 30 to 40 percent of the food supply.” It’s hard to comprehend that statistic when we know there are individuals, families, children, in our local communities and all across our country unsure of where their next meal is going to come from.

Last week we received an email from a concerned citizen with this picture of fruits and veggies being thrown out by a grocery store in their neighborhood. They were horrified to see food being wasted week after week as they drove home from church. They reached out to us for help in locating a food pantry or soup kitchen that could put the fresh produce to good use. They have committed to driving over to the grocery store on a weekly basis, loading up their truck, and delivering it to a community organization. They saw food being wasted – something that should be unsettling to everyone – and chose to do something about it. They made the necessary arrangement to rescue the fresh produce and found a food pantry willing to put it to good use via It is people like this that should encourage everyone not to be discouraged by something they’ve witnessed because often times, there are simple solutions. Solutions like helping to eliminate food waste in our own communities by sending an email, finding a food pantry on and taking action. Time and again, we may think we can’t change anything or think that’s just the way it is, but individually and collectively we can make a difference!

Another recent correspondence I had with a positive outcome was with a local college (my Alma matter in fact; Misericordia University) concerned about a nearby food pantry that was nearly empty and desperate for donations. We worked together, connected with a local organic farm that was willing to donate their extra veggies, and together we turned a bleak situation into a positive one for everyone involved: the students interested in hunger-relief, those who rely on the services of the food pantry, and for the farm not wanting to see food being wasted. All it takes is someone to recognize a problem, wanting to help and then taking the initial steps to get the ball rolling. Since September, that group of students has been collecting fresh produce from the farm on a weekly basis and delivering it to the local food pantry. Individually and collectively, we can make a difference!

It’s easy to be a Debbie Downer spewing out dismal facts about what’s wrong or broken in society, or we can step up and ask is there something we can do about this to make it better. One of my favorite quotes is from Martin Luther King Jr.: “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.”

Individually and collectively, there’s a way for everyone to be great and serve in our own communities – if you’re a gardener, grower or a concerned citizen, find a food pantry by visiting and make a fresh produce donation. Create your own positive outcomes by addressing hunger and helping your neighbors in need!

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