Pantry donations offer chance to teach life lessons

Thursday, November 2, 2017

We’ve just come off a celebration of empty calories with Halloween and we’re headed for the season of gluttony called Thanksgiving.

Still, in the middle of one of the most productive aras of the world, there are still people who go hungry.

Volunteers at the McCook Pantry can attest to that sad fact, with people from 19 communties in Southwest Nebraska from Arapahoe to Beaver City, Stratton and Wauneta depend on the Pantry to feed their families.

While they can get by on the basics, volunteers enjoy treating clients to extras such as cake and brownie mixes, pancake and waffle mixes, syrup, salad dressings, mayonnaise or salad dressing, pickles, olives and condiments such as ketchup, mustard and hot sauces.

Other suggestions might be au gratin and scalloped potato mixes, spaghetti/pasta sauces, boxed spaghetti and skillet dinners, tomato sauce and paste, energy drinks.

Of course, basics that are always appreciated include peanut butter, canned soups and stews, pork and beans, canned vegetables, fruits, fish/seafood and meats, dry pastas such as noodles, spaghetti and macaroni, rice and beans, ramen noodles, breakfast cereals and oatmeal, flour and sugar, crackers and boxed macaroni-and-cheese.

One Pantry worker encourages creation of specialty boxes such as:

Baby Boxes: may contain formula, diapers, baby cereal, fruit juice, and baby food.

BREAD (Bridges Reaching Elderly And Disabled) Boxes: could contain peanut butter, juice, pasta beans, cereal, canned food like tuna, vegetables, fruits and sauces, dry baking mixes, fruit cup packs, and pudding packs.

Bags of Hope: complete ingredients for a meal; may contain breakfast for a single parent and child, lunch or dinner for a single parent and child.

Special Diets: such low-sodium or diabetic.

Women: include iron rich and high-calcium foods.

Kid Packs: may contain macaroni and cheese, alphabet soup, chicken noodle, instant oatmeal, peanut butter, pudding packs, applesauce, cereal grain bars, juice boxes, graham crackers, and fruit cup packs.

New Beginnings Bags: bags filled with “new home supplies” such as oils, spices, basic baking products, pasta, sauces, and cleaning supplies to relieve the cost and burden of setting up a new home to help ensure the successful transition from hopelessness to independence.

Hot Dish Boxes: contain the ingredients to make hot dishes.

Winter’s Coming Box: donations consist of “winter” items like stew, chili, and hot chocolate mix (don’t forget the marshmallows!).

Bathroom Cabinet Bags: contain items commonly found in your bathroom: soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, toilet paper, shampoo or deodorant.

It’s not unusual for someone who has escaped homelessness of poverty to be among the most generous when circumstances allow.

Preparing special packages for distribution through the Pantry also offers a way for parents to help their children learn to be generous to someone in need.

We can’t think of a better way to celebrate the Thanksgiving season than by a tangible demonstration of our own thankfulness.

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