Even though the weather has still been frosty here in Halifax, it’s clear that spring is imminent. Out are the crocuses and the lingering snow piles are noticeably dwindling. The folks about town are beginning to appear on the sidewalks and I’m so pleased to be passing the happy faces of others who are equally excited for the sun to return to our cloudy skies.
For some, the warmth means more of an opportunity to be outdoors, or perhaps just less of a dependence on the necessity of indoor emergency shelter.
Though it’s not uncommon to pass someone on the street looking for change, it makes sense to see a few more individuals now that the weather is beginning to relent. I have some pretty strong opinions on social justice and social responsibility, though I won’t over complicate this particular post with them. I will simply say that I feel the weight of the need to help, although I have no expertise on all the complicated reasons for homelessness nor do I fully understand the complexities associated with the need for systemic change. It’s overwhelming, but I won’t allow that to excuse me from helping. Instead, I just do what I can when I can, even though it’s often not much.
Unfortunately, and I think like most people these days, I almost never carry cash. This means no spare pocket change to contribute to those who pass. However, for those who are specifically looking for something to eat, I’ve often been able to pass along a sandwich, a bagel, a granola bar…something that might help for a minute. Usually, the recipients have been appreciative, leading me to believe that I might do well to have some snacks on-hand that will be dedicated goodies for those who might need them.
My goal is to keep the idea simple, affordable, and easy to execute. I decided to make up baggies with some nutritious, shelf-stable snacks that I can store in a cooler bag in my car. They will be especially easy to grab and pass over to the individuals who wait at busy intersections.
I wanted to provide some snacks that are organic or “natural” (ie few artificial ingredients) and have a decent balance of calories, protein, vitamins, etc., keeping in mind that I know only the basics about nutrition and presume nothing about what other food sources these individuals may or may not have access to. I know that fresh would be ideal, but I think these items are an acceptable compromise.
I settled on a selection of fruit and nut protein bars (like Lara bars, if any of you are familiar), some naturally flavoured fruit snacks, raisins, and soy milk drink boxes (though feedback has indicated that soy milk is worse than no milk and next time I’d be better off with juice boxes…guess I’m the only one who likes soy milk…).
I will be the first to admit that I don’t know the stats on whether or not this is a good idea. I know that there are a million ways that we can be reaching out to those in need within our communities. For me, this idea is within my means and is convenient and quick enough that I can carry it out without excuse. In terms of the people I’m trying to help: I hope it’s helpful and I’m sorry it’s all I’m doing for now.
As always though, I’m open to other “no excuse” suggestions for helping to feed, nurture, empower, and support those in Halifax who need it most. What other ideas are out there? Share in the comments!