Not Your Typical Note From School
Recently, my oldest daughter brought home a note from school. The 46 year-old father of one of her 6th grade classmates died very unexpectedly. The purpose of the note was not only to inform parents of the loss, but also to request their help in offering comfort to the family in their time of sorrow.
Among the requests for donations to help the family with expenses and to provide flowers for the funeral as well as keepsakes for the bereaved was a request for food donations for the funeral luncheon to be held in the school after the services in the church (my girls attend a church affiliated private school – please feel free to take a moment and sing the Billy Joel or Frank Zappa song that you feel best fits).
A Call To Help, A Call To Reason
The request was quite simple: “Please bring a potato or noodle dish, or a dessert to the school kitchen ….” No mention of ‘Low Cal’ or ‘Low Fat.’ No mention of ‘Sugar Free’ - just traditional, home-made food. I found myself having varying responses to this request; one was a desire to give (which I did) and the other was pleasant surprise mixed with a sense of pride in Midwest Common Sense.
This was no time for any of the prattle from the Food Police, saying what can or cannot be eaten, or how much, or any of the other nonsense our society has attached to food. Midwest Common Sense came through.
The note contained no shame or devaluation of certain foods that have become marked as ‘bad’ by the powers that be in our culture. Instead, it simply requested foods that many people want when they are feeling sad, hurt, or scared, or food that can tempt those who have not been eating at all because of grief to try and eat something, anything, to keep them alive and healthy.
Taking Comfort In Common Sense
Of course, these foods are referred to as ‘Comfort Foods,’ foods that imbue a sense of safety, warmth, reassurance, security, home, family, love and warm fuzzies in general. They are not meant to rev a metabolism, fuel physical exertion, or purge impurities. The macaroni and cheese, the mashed potatoes, the apple pies, the chocolate chip cookies - all of it - represent simple love and comfort.
For millennia, foods have been described as having healing properties. Ginger to settle a sour stomach, honey for a sore throat and chicken soup for a cold are all examples of food as balm for the body and soul (my personal favorite cure-all is chocolate).
More importantly, sharing a meal is one of the oldest of human communal rituals - breaking bread - allowing people a chance to step out of their regular routines, slow down, remember, and talk with one another. When someone dies, food represents the sense of community, of family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and complete strangers coming together and each giving a bit of themselves to ease the suffering of fellow human beings, remembering the one who is lost and loving those who remain.
When have you seen the ‘Food Police Rules’ enforced or suspended or not even considered at all?
Born and raised in Northeast Ohio with her BA and MA from the University of Akron, Mary has 20 years experience in the corporate sector working for local companies and Fortune 500s in customer service, PR, sales, advertising, and broadcast media. She currently teaches English Composition at Stark State College and UA. Her passion is living and teaching tolerance while pushing for Size Acceptance. She hopes to inform as many everyday Americans that the issue of Size is not an issue at all but merely a distraction from the real issues, such as the decline in public education, our infrastructure, economy and healthcare system. Mary loves irritating people by speaking her mind and presenting them with annoying facts, contrary opinions, and life's little ironies; when not doing that, she loves being with her family.