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Reflecting on Holiday Abundance

Today is a significant day for me and one I’ll always remember.

It was December 23 in 2001 when I returned home from a life-changing 4 month trip in
Southeast Asia. I was immediately struck by the abundance, excess, and waste of the holidays – even in my own conscious family. The culture shock struck deep – particularly around food – as I had witnessed so much hunger, poverty, and even experienced a week of meals with a family in Nepal where there were only two meals each day, always the same – rice and dal (lentils).

I began studying hunger in America and became hyper-aware of waste. I was vigilant about eating scraps off people’s plates and elsewhere that was destined for (or in) the trash. This led me to gain 25 lbs, which was clearly not a sustainable solution. Instead, I started a food recovery group on campus.

As many of us enter a week of abundance of gifts, food, travel and pleasure there are billions of people who struggle to get by – not knowing where they will find affordable housing, how they will afford medical bills, how will they stay warm at night, or where their next meal will come from.

This injustice, this unequal distribution of resources, this exclusive system that leaves so many people out makes me feel angry, sad, and ultimately, motivated to act. We are in a time of great transformation and opportunity where collectively we have the power to shape the next system. Thank you for all your support and for joining me and Food Shift in this exciting journey to ensure all food is eaten and all people are fed.

With sincere gratitude to you and best wishes for the new year,

-Dana


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