Finding Comfort in Healthy Food - Capital Area Food Bank
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Finding Comfort in Healthy Food

By Claudia Morris January 17, 2013

“I care about children and families, and I grew up in the South, where food is an important part of family life. So I guess that is my driving force,” says retired school teacher Mary Collins. “My career and my upbringing. That’s what makes me give.”
During her 33 years of teaching math, Ms. Collins saw many children come to school hungry. She taught in Ward 8 of the District of Columbia for 19 years, with “wonderful, smart students” who were sometimes too hungry to concentrate.
“You can just tell [when they haven’t eaten], they are irritable. They were in high school, and they would tell me, ‘I don’t feel like doing this work,’ ” Ms. Collins, 68, recalls.
“I would ask, ‘What did you eat for breakfast this morning?’ They would say, ‘Nothing’ or ‘Potato chips.’ No wonder these kids aren’t alert! They haven’t eaten properly!”
Ms. Collins has been sharing with the Capital Area Food Bank since 2010. She visited the food bank, and watched the teaching kitchen in action. She sees how families are taught about nutrition, and shown how to make low-cost healthy meals in minutes. She has made a pledge to donate $1,000 a year over the next five years.
“I don’t believe that any child in our country should be hungry. That is shameful. How can I sit down and eat an entire meal — more than I should be eating — without sharing what I have with someone else?”
Making sure children get healthy food is a priority for Ms. Collins. She says she supports the Capital Area Food Bank because it focuses on nutrition. She appreciates that the teaching kitchen can give working mothers the tools to learn how to make a nutritional meal in a mere 15 minutes.
“Do you give food for the sake of giving food, or do you give healthy food?” The school teacher knows first-hand the importance of having protein and vitamins in one’s diet to enjoy strength and productivity. And because she is from the South, she knows how important food can be to a family’s sense of love and belonging.