There was a twitter party tonight where Kraft was promising to donate 50 boxes of Kraft Dinner (KD) for every tweet with the #bluebox hash tag. The goal was to reach one million boxes of KD being donated. Kraft's donation drive, in conjunction with Feeding America, uses the slogan "Share a Little Comfort." The thing is...Kraft Dinner is not comfort food for people who cannot afford to eat well.
According to a 2008 University of Calgary study called Discomforting comfort foods: stirring the pot on Kraft Dinner® and social inequality in Canada by Melanie Rock, Lynn McIntyre, and Krista Rondeau, "food-secure Canadians tend to associate Kraft Dinner® with comfort, while food-insecure Canadians tend to associate Kraft Dinner® with discomfort". The reason for this is that eating Kraft Dinner is a choice for food secure Canadians, i.e. those who can afford to buy food, and they can pair it with nutritious sides like proteins and vegetables to make a well rounded meal. For food insecure Canadians, i.e. those who cannot afford to buy food, Kraft Dinner is often what they have to eat at the end of the month when the money has run out and they cannot afford anything else. They often have to prepare it without milk, resulting in a significant loss of both taste and nutritional value. According to a CBC article on the study, food secure Canadians often think Kraft Dinner is an appropriate donation to a food bank because it is convenient, easy to prepare, and their kids like it.
Is there a better way to donate a dollar?
The average cost of a box of Kraft Dinner in Canada is $1. The total cost to prepare it is a bit more once you add in the required milk and butter or margerine. I typed "what can a food bank buy for $1" into Google and found a ton of results right away showing that a $1 cash donation can go much further to alleviating hunger than a box of Kraft Dinner, e.g.
- When donating to the foodbank, cash is best – your every $1 will buy $3 worth of food.
- Donate to the Bay Area Food Bank online where $1 can provide up to 7 meals for someone in need.
- For every $1 donated to the Calgary Food Bank, we are able to distribute $4 worth of food to those in need.
- Every dollar donated allows us to buy $6 worth of food.
- If you donate money versus canned goods, food pantries are able to buy so much more, according to Mr. Arnold. Let’s say that a person buys $5 worth of canned foods at a grocery store and donates it. If they had given $5 as a cash or credit card donation to Food Bank of the Rockies or the nonprofits they distribute food to, they could have used this $5 donation to purchase up to $50 worth of food from their suppliers including the same grocery stores that the person had bought the canned food from. What an amazing thing.
It is ridiculous that in Canada there are farmers who can barely afford to feed their own families. Farmers who have to go to the food bank. While at the same time, Canada's poor cannot afford nutritious food and is being forced to eat donated Kraft Dinner while Kraft rakes in double digit profit margins. We need to to something to make nutritious food more affordable and more accessible and to allow farmers to earn a living.
I don't have the answer. I wish I did. But I know that part of it involves donating cash to the food bank instead of donating Kraft Dinner. Another part involves developing strategies that will allow food banks to distribute more fresh food, including things like the food bank booth at our local farmer's market where people could purchase extra produce and donate it (they aren't there every week, but I think they should be).
Image credit: Andrew Dobrow on flickr