One of the best parts of my job at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is knowing that the crops the children plant in our farm garden will ultimately be harvested by different children and then sent to the Central Virginia Food Bank. The Community Kitchen will then turn our fresh produce into meals for the Kid's Cafe. According to the CVFB website, the Kid's Cafe "is a partnership with established after-school and summer programs in the Richmond Metro area that provide safe places for children to participate in activities designed to enhance educational and social development." Kids are helping feed other kids. My joy and my job is to assist in the planting, to help with watering and finally, to teach children when the food is ready to harvest. Those days, those many joyous harvest days, are my favorite. Those are days of discovery for parent and child, days to exclaim at the marvel of a bee pollinating a bright purple eggplant flower, to taste a red noodle bean, to learn about the shear existence of a Spaghetti Squash. And then, I get to gather up all of these discoveries, and take them to the Central Virginia Food Bank.
Anthony always greets me there. He is happy to see me, and for no selfish reason. He is as excited as I am as the weight appears on the electronic scale- "27 Pounds!" he says- cheerfully impressed with our bounty. I am unreasonably proud.
Last week, the canned food bins of the CVFB were appallingly empty. This week, they were reasonably full. I asked Anthony if people had responded to the numerous news programs which highlighted the plight of the empty bins. He told me that the CVFB had spent $30,000 of its own money to restock the shelves because, of course, people still have to eat.
This year, the CVFB has spent $80,000 to feed central Virginia. Upon hearing that, I made a plan to host a canned food drive at my work. I am encouraging people to look in their pantries for food they do not think they will use- I know I have some. That way, we do not have to shop for food, we can simply give what we do not need. If you would like to help, you can look here, or email the Richmond Food Collective for ideas.