Cans can’t cater to the community

Jeadan Andre, Staff Writer

Chicken noodle soup, green beans, tomato soup and spam: these are just a few examples of food items being donated to the food drive at Bonita Vista High (BVH) for those who need to feed their families but can’t. Hundreds of canned foods have been filled into boxes to be given to those who need it. This is what the typical canned food drive looks like, but maybe all those cans have not been as useful as students might have thought, with many cans not being used and even thrown away. Even though canned food drives are beneficial and can help those involved, they’re not the best option to help.

Across the country, schools donate canned foods in an effort to stop hunger across the United States, especially during Thanksgiving and Christmas. BVH recently held the Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) food drive, an example of the many canned food drives held.

“The purpose of this food drive is to encourage local schools to be active in supporting their community overall, as MLK did through his everyday actions. With almost a half-million San Diego residents facing food insecurity, it really is a community effort to help support any way we can,” San Diego Food Bank Food Procurement Supervisor Kimberly Castillo said.

The idea of a food drive in itself isn’t harmful; it is a great idea to inspire students to help their community. The problem is that it’s not the most efficient way to help those who are facing trouble feeding their families.

The same ten dollars that you would spend to get three cans of food could actually buy at, retail value, twenty times more food. That can be the difference between just providing enough lunch for a couple of people to actually feed a family of four for a week,” Executive Director of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy Katherina Rosqueta said.

There are many canned foods that are not up to par with what people need or like that are still beneficial to them. Some canned foods are not healthy for those that are in need of the food — either being high in sodium or even containing BPA. This leads to many canned foods to be thrown away and discarded in other ways.

“Each year, an average of about 1.5 million pounds [of food] does not get utilized. From that, about a half-million is trash, but the other 1 million is what we define as ‘diverted from landfill.’ This poundage includes what we give to pig farmers and recycling [cardboard and aluminum],” Castillo said.

Donating canned food isn’t the best or most efficient method to solve hunger, so donating money instead would be a better solution to the problem. This is already suggested by Feeding America and other online sources that have expressed this through their websites.

According to an article by Feeding America written by Olivia Thoelke, “Rather than paying retail prices, our network of food banks works with major manufacturers, retailers and farmers to secure healthy food. This means that when you donate a dollar, you’re able to put more meals on the tables of families than if you donated food you’d purchased at the store.”

There are always alternatives to canned food drives, such as students donating money or giving checks to local food banks. This allows people who donate feel good about what they’ve done and know that it is being used in the most effective way possible.

It gave me a drive because you never know when you’re gonna need help and right now, we have the power to actually help people in need.” ASB president and senior Carlos Torres said, “I want to give them as much help as possible, because one day, I might myself need help or someone at the school may need help.”

Ultimately, canned foods are not the best way and can actually be unhelpful to those who need them. Canned food drives may bring people together and make them feel good inside to do good for their actions, but it still wouldn’t make up for the wasted food given for the cause. If buying canned food isn’t an available option, you can still help those that are in need by giving your money and the kindness out of your heart to make a difference in their lives and yours as well.