This story about the importance of individual choice (and the silliness of standardized food bags/boxes) comes to us from the late John Arnold, who at the time was the Executive Director of Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank.
This story involves a pantry in the greater Grand Rapids, Michigan area that grappled with a quandary that I only learned about when they discovered a solution and came into the Food Bank on one of their normal visits.
This pantry had received lots of leftover bags of cornmeal from the community action agency that handled most of the mass distribution of USDA commodities in the area. Of course the leftovers were available because very few people had wanted any cornmeal in the first place, but the pantry immediately started giving every one of their clients a bag of cornmeal in their standardized food bag.
Unsurprisingly, they started to find bags of cornmeal out in the parking lot. Clients would come to the pantry, be given a standardized bag, and would get outside and realize there was this silly bag of cornmeal in there and they would abandon it.
So the pantry convened a committee to try to figure out what to do. Continue reading “Cornmeal in the parking lot”