So, how frugal am I? I'm so frugal . . . that I feed my kids discards from the local soup kitchen! How's that for cheap?
Now that my sabbatical has been well underway, I've been volunteering one morning a week at the breakfast line at our local rescue shelter. It's been a super-fun thing to do, for a whole bunch of different reasons. I'm downtown that morning anyway because it's my usual market day; I like feeling that I'm helping out our community; and I've really, really come to like the folks who work and eat there.
I've taken to bringing kids' books along with me and reading them to the kids who are getting ready to go to school. (Yay for "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!") I have bike conversations with the guys who are getting ready to bike off to their own jobs. I talk about boxing with one of the chefs, and I compare grandchild stories with my fellow food server. But mostly, I just hand out bowls of fruit, bowls of oatmeal, servings of bacon, and groove to the way-too-loud (but awesome) Praise Music that is playing in the kitchen. It's good times.
Two weeks or so ago, as I was helping clean up after breakfast was over, I heard my co-workers clucking over wasted food. Bagels, scrambled eggs, all going into the trash. What a pity! Of course, I joined in with questions of "can't you save it?" Well, they're not allowed to let the guests take the food out of the mission (liability reasons, not to mention that few people who eat here have place to store/reheat food anyway). They offered me some, but the only containers they had were styrofoam clam shell containers. Even if I could have overlooked the styrofoam, though, I'd biked downtown with my market backpack; the food would have spilled all over.
And I'd never thought about this before, but it is a funny question to think about: what happens to the food when food pantries get rid of food? Answer: trash!
Since that week, though, I've come prepared. This week, a sturdy tea towel wrapped up a pile of pancakes (still warm when I got home) that became a breakfast for me and my husband . . .
So dinner that night became "Scrounge Soufflé": scrounged scrambled eggs mixed in with beet greens (leftover from making grilled beets), diced swiss chard stems (leftover from making a swiss chard salad), orphan tomatoes from the fading garden, and a bunch of overlooked shallots.
Too funny. I already give money once a year to this particular place; if I'm going to start using their food to feed my family then I guess I ought to up the contribution.