This story last week on NPR talked about the issue of food banks distributing all that is donated, including candy and other food with minimal nutritional value. I think the story missed a main point: It is not up to food banks to be the nutrition gatekeepers for our clients. We are not here to “do favors.” Everyone deserves the dignity of a meal of their choosing, without a charitable gatekeeper.

We all need to learn to eat better and to understand the importance of good nutrition. It is also a societal responsibility to provide information and education about good nutrition, cooking well, and eating well for everyone, not just one group or another. This country used to provide that guidance, but stopped in the 1970’s when the government began backing away from more aggressive nutrition and good eating advocacy that began during WWII. The 70’s also were the advent of increased food processing and aggressive marketing of “junk” food.

I don’t believe it is appropriate to single out 1 in 7 of our neighbors for disparate treatment just because they need to ask for help. Walk in those shoes and think how you would feel, if you found yourself being denied a certain food (or candy) because a charity decided it wasn’t good for you.