Give Others a Reason to be Thankful

A Thanksgiving Editorial

I was at a local Chevron station, getting a cup of coffee because it was 7 a.m. and I was still quite tired. However, I was awake enough to notice something about the coffee I was buying. The smallest size they carried – smallest, mind you – was labelled “Large” and came in a 16 oz. cup. That’s a pound of coffee. That was their SMALLEST available size; they carried two even larger sizes: a 20 oz. cup labelled “XL” and a 24 oz. cup just labelled “24 oz.”

I had bought coffee from this particular Chevron before, and had never noticed this bizarre sizing practice. However, it struck me on this particular morning because the day prior, I had gone with my father to do some pre-Christmas “reconnaissance shopping”, going from store to store to think of gift ideas and compare prices. While we were out, we had brunch at our local IHOP restaurant, and when I ordered an omelette, I received a giant platter with a massive, hoagie-sized pile of eggs, sausage, and spinach. And if that wasn’t enough, I got three pancakes with it. I simply couldn’t finish my meal. Then, while looking at the kitchenware section of Kohl’s, my dad commented that the cereal and soup bowls that were being sold were several times bigger than they used to be. “Those used to be considered serving bowls,” he told me.

Is it any wonder, then, that 35.7% of U.S. adults are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?

I mean, McDonald’s may have gotten rid of “Supersize” meals, but Americans have appeared to lose all sense of what an appropriate portion size at mealtime really is. This problem has gotten bad enough that the USDA recently completely revamped their nutrition guides, replacing the Food Pyramid with the MyFoodPlate, which emphasizes (surprise, surprise) portion control.

But I’m not here to tell you how to eat. I’m just as guilty as everyone else for eating too much at times, and I’m about to really pig out for Thanksgiving.

No, the reason I’m writing today is a far, far more disturbing statistic. Last year, 50.1 million Americans didn’t reliably have enough food to eat. This figure includes 16.7 million American children. In 36 states, at least one in five children were going hungry. Not only that, but 9 million Americans over the age of 50 were also going hungry.

In a nation with the resources to provide us with 24 oz. of coffee in the morning and omelettes the size of hoagies, this is absolutely unacceptable. If we have the resources to pig out on Footlong Quarter-pound Coney hot dogs from Sonic and wash it down with a Big Gulp from 7-Eleven, we have the resources to make sure every American has enough food to eat.

In my hometown, the local Catholic Church runs an annual Thanksgiving food drive, and my family does its part by donating two whole Thanksgiving meals – turkey and all. There are similar organizations in every community for those who are well-off to help those who are not so well-off, from Food Banks to the Salvation Army to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Every little bit helps, even if it’s just a can of vegetables.

Here, visit FeedingAmerica.org, a national network of Food Banks, and find out more information on what you can do and where you can help. I urge everyone who is able to help those in need, and give somebody who would otherwise go hungry have something to be thankful for this year.

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