"Here I go, throwing food away again!" I shouted. "Food costs money! This is like me taking money from your piggy bank and throwing it away! This is like you taking $20 from my wallet and just throwing it away!!"
That's when my six year old started to cry. It was the idea of losing money that did it for him. He's usually a good eater but we were going through a period of wasting good food. And at the end of a long day I snapped. I yelled as I stood there, the flip-up lid of our tall mirror-sided kitchen trash can gaping open as I scraped the uneaten food down the only mouth that would eat it.
Around this same time, I had heard the homeless families report on 60 Minutes and a friend told me she slept in her car as a homework assignment. Need was on my mind.
I decided my children were taking their food and good fortune for granted. I told them about children here in our community that don't have food. I told them some families only get beans or have to go to places like churches and food pantries and ask for food for free. It would've been better if I hadn't shouted this info at them, but I was upset.
I made my four year old eat a carrot while he thought about the hungry kids who would cry for that carrot.
I then shouted that we were going through the pantry and finding our favorite foods - all of us - and we were giving them to the Backpack Initiative at our elementary school.
My four year old gave up his Goldfish crackers. My six year old gave up his favorite Harvest Orange tomato soup. I gave up my cookies that I have with coffee. We filled two bags of food and the next day they were donated.
This was almost a year ago and my seven year still talks about giving up that can of Harvest Orange. he talked about it as we filled four bags of food for the Backpack Initiative. I think I made that first experience too negative, but I've done better. Check out my now five year's old thoughts on sharing food with kids who need it.
I like that he says we're donating because we love people. And we've upped it to four bags of food, with more to come. I'm looking for other effective ways to raise their awareness and inspire generosity and gratitude in my boys. Any suggestions?