A Poor Child’s Manna

Why is it
food fit for your garbage bin
should be a poor child’s manna?

cans crushed and dented
as if they had once been
the subject
of vigorous
street kicking games
Your “donation” is insane
Yes, Scrooge, reduce the

cans missing labels
as if this is a game
of guessing
food being served
Your “donation” is absurd
food allergies?
Right, Dad Bunker, ‘cuz
WASP’s sting
the poor in Queens

cans long past their date
as if antiquities
grocery stores
now gone defunct
Your “donation” will be junked
Fine, Uncle Vernon, leave
all the rottings

Why is it
food fit for your garbage bin
should be a poor child’s manna?


While you are at it,
tell me
what child wants canned
for dinner?

Words and Photography ©2016 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in human need & poetry. Bookmark the permalink.

The first time my older boys helped with a post office food drive through the local food pantry, they returned indignant at the volume of waste “donations” they had to sort through and discard. Many of those cans were years past date, severely damaged and unlabeled; and, yes, canned alligator meat was on the menu. A food pantry drive isn’t the time to clean the junk out your kitchen. Real people depend on food pantries as a stop-gap measure against malnutrition and starvation. Please fill the donation bags full but only with items you yourself would consume. For those of you partial to canned alligator meat, I apologize and cringe.

81 thoughts on “A Poor Child’s Manna

  1. I’m sure those people making those “donations”are quite pleased that they get to “check that box off”. But yeah, clearly, if it’s not something you gave any intention of eating, don’t make your garbage a “donation.” God knows the heart. Burnt offering and sacrifice he does not want, but a humble heart for service. This is no service.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Nicely stated, John. Thank you! I think that people who have just don’t comprehend what the world is like for those who don’t. When someone goes to the food pantry, they fill out paperwork, wait in line and are limited by whatever happens to be available. It is humiliating. My boys were blessed to get to meet some of those people over time. I hope they never forget…😊

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Tanya,
    As we prepare for our food drive at church, I admit I haven’t thought about folks cleaning out their food pantries to contribute to food drives. Oh, my goodness. I wouldn’t think of doing something so reckless. I’m going to speak to our food drive person to make sure someone is checking for outdated, unlabeled or botulism-tainted cans. Thanks for sharing this.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I would think where people are bringing the cans in you would have better luck with it. These drives involved bags left in the mail and then picked up by the post office and brought in. It was pretty bad at times.

      We also ran personal care good drives, where we would hand out flyers at the entrance to the local Walmart and K-Mart and then collect items at the exit. One year, we received enough donations to fill a bag for each of the 150+ families who used that particular food pantry. It’s a good one to run with a bunch of teenagers over the holidays. (Gotta have enough bodies to block all the doors so people can’t avoid getting your flyers…Lol)

      It’s good to check the cans though.
      Have a great day, Steven!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tanya, I was certain I said n my last reply that I “really love that picture of you on this post.” If I didn’t, let me say, that I really love that picture of you on this post. Really!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Your very welcome! I remember this one man who had been injured severely and was out of work. We helped him carry his stuff to his truck. He spoke openly about how he hated having to use the pantry to feed his family and how humiliating it was. That always stuck with me. That, and the migrant/seasonal farm workers whose children didn’t eat with out it. We need to get the little things right and do a whole lot more, imo.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good one. Clare often gives away some of my luxurious favorites. At least I know they are good and going to a good home where they are needed. The number of people now needing food from food banks is growing at an ever-increasing rate. And this is in the so-called ‘first world’. Thank you for posting this, Tanya: a much needed prompt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Roger. I went through a brief period in college where I had just started a new/better job and was struggling to pay my bills (food was the first thing to go…Lol). A friend of mine, who herself was struggling and on food stamps, showed up at my door with a couple bags of groceries for me one night. I will NEVER forget it. It got me through a tough spot and humbled me in a permanent way.
      There is enough food in the world to feed everyone…just not a willingness.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Clare got home late Wednesday night. I drove out to the airport to meet her and missed most of the third debate: it was scheduled for when her plane was about to land. This was probably a mercy when I come to think about it. She is slowly unwinding and recovering from an exhausting two week workout with our two year old grand-daughter!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Thoughtful poem, Tanya! Why should they have our cast-offs when a fair taxation system, for example, could provide decent jobs and perhaps a living wage for all? The whole question of charity is fraught with problems.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Dave. I agree. On a personal note, I think we will never get the big things right if we can’t get the little ones right. As I said elsewhere, we have to give and fix as if our own bellies were empty…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. They actually can’t be given to the poor. They have to be thrown out. The post office leaves bags by the mail and then collects on a given day. Volunteers, like my boys, come in and sort. It is amazing what people put in those bags. I don’t say that in the sense of anything good, either.

      When people bring donations in to the pantries, they tend to be good ones. We gotta give like is our children’s hungry bellies…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh now I see. Yes, I can imagine what some people would put in those bags and why they need sorters like your boys to come in and toss the bad, expired stuff! Wow…

        Liked by 1 person

      1. You are always welcome for any comments I make, Tanya. I appreciate the platform to speak them! Take care and have a super weekend…

        Steve 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you💛 would you please do me a favor? There’s a short story competition in my college. I’ve written a horror story. So could you have a look at it? I want it to be a native-like story, so I think you’re the best, especially you’re an author. Thx❤

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi, Amir! I did and printed it off last night. I should have some time in the next day or two, which will allow me to go over it a few separate times. When do you need to turn it in?

        Liked by 1 person

  5. There use to be no use by dates Tanya when I was young, although Dairy and perishables did need them but we had an idea how long they would last.

    But old dented and unlabeled cans is rubbish as you shared, would we appreciate them if we were in need, the same with torn and discarded clothes, yes we do unto others as we would like them to do for us and we do it first!

    Blessings – Anne.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh.now , i have known about DAPL.Dis is belonged from tribal people’s water problem.a mountain of dakota has source only of drinking water n american govt wants to build a pipeline for crude oil n for dt , they r ready to remove dt mountain behind it,there is source of crude oil.realy ,dis is d main problems for inhabitants n dengerous for environment.protesters r doing right.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I completely agree with you, why give someone food you wouldn’t eat yourself? Same with clothing too. I can understand that you rather give it to someone less fortunate or in need but at least give something presentable, something you like but would want someone else to have it. It doesn’t always have to be junk.

    Liked by 1 person

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