The Zombies Ate My Brains

Rescuing what might remain of the grey matter.

What’s Wrong with this Picture

What's wrong with this picture?

Found on Facebook

At the risk of making a faux pas unlike any pas I have ever faux’d – what is wrong with this picture? I mean, the kids are cute and all, and the art is all seasonal green and red. How can you knock any promotion that supports your local food bank?

But, there’s something about this Foodland Ontario social media image that troubles me.

Here’s the extended version of the text:

Share the love this holiday season by voting for your local food bank and help raise awareness of the need in your community. Top three food banks will receive a $200 donation of Ontario meat and poultry just in time for the holidays.

Share the love with those who work and volunteer at your local food bank – give kudos, thank you’s, well wishes – and we’ll make sure they see your kind words. Click on the Give kudos! button to leave a comment for your local food bank.

Find out how you can help end hunger now and year-round at www.oafb.ca.

The paltry $200 donation to each of the top three food banks gets me. Oh, bravo, Foodland Ontario, (whoever you are) $600 bucks. Wow. I am impressed.

But then, I look sideways to see if anyone notices me squirm. When was the last time I made a donation of food, time, money? OK, well… just yesterday. And last week, and the week before that. Nothing as impressive as $200.00. But every little bit helps, right? Is that the Foodland Ontario policy?

Back to the ad. There are twenty food banks listed. Is that all? Oh, look, fine print.

fine print

The top three food banks with the most votes will be offered a $200 donation to spend on meat and poultry at an OIMP member location closest to them or of their choice. There is no cash value.

WHAT? It’s not even cash? Who the heck is OIMP? Ah. The Ontario Independent Meat Processors. THEY don’t have more than $600.00 to donate to the cause?

I checked out the OAFB (Ontario Association of Food Banks) site. I need to read it a little more closely, but this opening image from last year’s annual report answers my question about “only” twenty food banks.

Click on the link for the full report

Click on the link for the full report

For the moment, though, check out the donor wall. The OAFB keeps impressive company.

Help me out here folks. Am I out of line? Am I missing something? Or is this social media promotion just plain out of touch?

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Categories: In Other News

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67 replies

  1. It could be the majority of their money go to the process of making food more affordable; so better farming, transportation type of thing and not so much direct donations to the hungry. Also it is interesting that they specifically say meat and poultry. It sounds like they might also invest into fruit, vegetables and grain but not meats on a normal basis. But yeah, it does seem kind of paltry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, it’s the Ontario Independent Meat Processors that are footing the prize money, or I should say, providing the meat. I cannot imagine that the meat will be prime rib, either. Probably ground beef or wieners, so that there will something for the first forty or fifty people.

      Like

  2. I think what bothers me the most is that it’s essentially a popularity contest. What about the other 17 food banks?

    Liked by 2 people

    • See, that’s what struck me as odd. Vote for your favourite rock band, your favourite restaurant, your favourite food bank… um, WHAT?!!

      Of course, when I re-read the ad, I see where the intention is good, as Dan writes below. Promote the cause, raise awareness, give thanks and pats on the back to the people that run the food banks.

      I think Foodland Ontario’s Social Media department blew it. The cause needs promotion, no question, but not this way.

      Like

  3. It seems as if they want more recognition for this good deed (and it is a good deed) than they should.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, the more I think about it, the more I think that the social media person was misguided here. Of course a good cause like a food bank needs support and you want to thank the people who donate their time and money.

      But, to find out that a food organization is on the hook for a meager $600 (in meat, not cash!) when that same company forks out ten, twenty times that amount for box seats at ball games…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. There’s definitely something not on with this.

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  5. Food banks are able to get more bang for their buck because they can shop around and reach deals with distributors,eetc. for items like meat and dairy. I think this is “every dollar counts” for sure, but also “hey, look at us!”

    Like Yoplait with their “we’ll donate XX number of dollars to charity for each yogurt label you send in”. You aren’t holding your breath for yogurt sales to increase to be able to afford to send the money, so just send it and save me the postage!

    Like

    • Interesting you should mention the yogurt ploy. My cousin and her husband supported Proctor & Gamble campaigns by buying product with the pink ribbons or packaging or whatnot. She did a bit of research and found out that P&G donated $50,000 to the Canadian Cancer Society. Now, $50K is a lot of money to you and me, but when you consider that my cousin and who knows how many other customers stocked their shelves with P&G product… that $50 grand is a marketing ploy, an advertisement write-off more than a donation.

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  6. OH MY. Those donors are so .. wow, big corporations. Well, when I read this, I think about how, yes, meat can be a vital dietary component, but how cheap and plentiful, as well as how hearty-sturdy-easy-to-store and green! beans and legumes are, in comparison…
    And yeah, voucher to be spent via the meat people…um…not particularly generous.
    But, I suppose, doing something paltry, like the equivalent of me donating a penny to it, is better than naught. Like you, we give regularly. I somewhat despise the idea that people ignore the hungry until the holidays encroach. Still, better that than nothing. But if people could see what it’s like by mid-January, I think this practice would change. Here, there seems to be this idea that only the homeless and the lazy use food banks, but really, at our local place, it’s a lot of retired people, veterans included, and working single parents.
    You’re right to call them out, and even more right to uplift the cause.

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  7. I have to agree. $200 (or $600) seems pretty paltry. Also, maybe it’s the cynic in me, but I can’t help wonder if somehow they are profiting from getting people to vote. Maybe it adds to their email list, or maybe it’s just getting people to talk about how wonderful OAFB is (you know the food banks are expected to get the word out and encourage people to vote)? I don’t mind it when companies highlight their charitable giving, I just think it should be more meaningful and less manipulative.

    Like

    • You know, I was NOT going to write because I was aware that my inner cynic was screaming to be let free. But. I just this moment learned that Foodland Ontario IS a government agency! I thought it was an industry group.

      Wait, what am I saying, government IS industry!

      Welcome, oh cynical reader! Plenty of room for more.

      Like

  8. Good hit Maggie. I would never have noticed this. Nothing about this feels right. It has the look and feel of shameless self-promotion.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m with eschudel – why is this a popularity contest? Aren’t all food banks equally in need? The campaign makes me feel icky.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hey there… icky: exactly. I am far from being a social crusader. I’m embarrassingly illiterate actually, regarding so many social justice issues. But felt something smelled “off”.

      Then I read Debra’s comment below…

      Like

  10. Everything about this is wrong. When I was a kid growing up I remember my teachers at school (yeah it was a Catholic school but still …) told us that charity is its own reward. If you are truly being generous you don’t need to advertise. Second: cute kids but demographically wrong. They look a little too privileged to ever need help from a food bank. Third: the top three food banks need the help the least. If they really wanted to help they would give the help to the ones who were the least popular. Fourth: If they were really being generous the money would go to whatever the food bank decided they most needed — rather than returning back to the donor meat processing corporations (who happen to already get incredible government subsidies so giving their wholesale crap away at whol isn’t really as generous as it might sound. Also: ew gross. I wouldn’t eat that stuff if you paid me.) Fifth: I don’t think that word ‘sustainable’ means what they think it means.

    Ok. yes I -will- stop. Even though I could continue to rant …

    Liked by 4 people

    • You make astonishing good points, thank you! Especially about the food bank with the most votes needing the help the least. And you echo my sentiment – give them the cash to do whatever it is they need to do. Seal the windows, buy light bulbs, whatever they need and can manage for the princely sum of $200. It’s almost insulting, really.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I agree.

      But regarding your second point, I’m not sure if their intent is the same, but when I worked for a child-welfare NGO, we were told the importance of depicting happy kids. First, a lot of other companies and organizations do the sad-and-hungry-looking-kids approach so that people would be sorry for the kids and help. But that is already kind of exploiting the kids and their situation, which is against their child rights. Showing happy kids show how much nicer it would be to see such glee in the kids, the people, you help.

      Just my two cents, Ma’m. Well, centavos, based on where I am. Well, okay, five centavos as we currently do not have one or two centavos 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  11. The trouble with you Maggie is that you actually read the small print, looked at the donor wall etc. YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO DO THAT. Marketing is not for the thinkers and readers it is aimed at the gullible and of course that includes me. Hopefully the kids in the ad didn’t get paid in burgers.

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  12. Well, good points, and maybe I misunderstand, but it just seems a good way to call the average Joe’s attention to the plight of not only the hungry but also the food banks who have to supply them.

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  13. Oh my gosh–Debra and Andrew hit the nail on the head. Who reads the fine print? This is akin to ‘just sign here and leave everything up to us.’ Yeah, right. Just give us your money–we know what to do with it. Better to donate to the specific charity and leave out the middle man or, in this case, the damn government. Good read, Maggie.

    Like

    • Thanks, Lois.

      If I might continue on your theme, as it relates to my way of thinking: leave out the government. If by government you mean the corporate entity that backs up the government, or rather, controls the purse/puppet strings, yes, leave it out. I want a government that looks after the citizens first. I support paying taxes for a government that will attend to our health and welfare first.

      OK, stepping down from soap box. Thanks for having me over to speak. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I dunno, I think something is better than nothing. I often buy the $10 bag of groceries sitting beside the check out in my grocery store. It’s not much. But it’s several meals (not great meals, but nutritious and definitely helpful to a poor family as they could add other things to it if they can). If every business pitched in $600 to feed the hungry there would be no more hungry people. It’s not the amount; it’s the uniqueness of the offering?

    Like

    • Hi Martha. Sure, I agree, something is better than nothing, and if all businesses contributed a little something, that would be great. But. They don’t. The big agribusinesses that control the food industry do not have the health and well-being of their customers as their number one concern. If that were the case, sugar, fat, and salt would not be the major ingredients in so much of the food on the shelves.

      The food business number one concern is profit.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. So the gold donors are the $5 donors, the silver donors are the $2 donors, and the bronze donors gave a buck, eh?

    Liked by 1 person

  16. My main complaint about things like this is, if these companies really do care about the people they say they want to help, why don’t they just donate, period? Instead they make these pretentious contests and promos in the guise of the just needy benefiting from it.

    Like

    • Thanks for joining the conversation. I agree – if they truly care, then they would make an effort within their means. Whether that’s lump sum contributions or quality products for reasonable prices or attention to animal welfare or a combination of the above.

      Like

  17. Our Safeway grocery chain here in Portland, OR has its own food drive by filling brown shopping bags to give to needy families. They ask for a $20 donation for each bag. My issue with that is that directly outside their doors are homeless transients shivering in the cold rain and Winter weather. What about them?

    Like

  18. Sounds like the meat industry promoting itself in the name of helping the hungry. (Quick, everybody: Do no think about–and especially do not ask–why they’re hungry.)

    Like

  19. This topic was a thought generator for certain. I don’t know how many of these kinds of manipulations have passed me by without a thought before. Now, I will stop an consider what exactly these contests are promoting. It smacks of dangling a symbolic sausage over the hungry and watching them each jump to see who can get the prize. Sad.

    Like

    • Same here! I have gotten really good at screening out the ads and other promotions, but since I’ve started to volunteer with the Women’s Institutes, I keep my eyes peeled for food and household related content. So… I read this one a bit more closely than usual.

      The dangling sausage image is apt, I think.

      Thanks for stopping by to read and comment.

      Like

  20. Just on a practical level, even if the donation were truly spectacular in size, food banks can use money more than goods. But more than that, what’s with pitting the food banks against one another to receive this pittance? And even broader than that, why is our society not taking better care of those who need help in the first place? If Foodland Ontario really wants to help, they can apply their political clout to putting pressure on our government to actually put meaningful change in place, rather than just mouthing the words. Bah.

    Like

  21. I couldn’t agree with Debra more. I have such mixed emotions about charity drives in general when the underlying reasons of why the food bank is needed in the first place never seem to be properly addressed. It’s the children, though, that keep me continuing to plop money into cans and writing checks. Sigh.

    Like

    • I hear you loud and clear. If governments aren’t going to do the job of protecting the citizens, and corporations don’t see a profit in helping out, then it is up to the citizens to help one another and we do. We donate money, food, clothing, time, books all the while thinking, “This isn’t right.”

      If we continue to prop up what the government is letting drop… then we will be caught holding up the load for ever.

      Welcome to eternity.

      Like

      • Welcome to eternity, indeed. The whole issue of poverty is so complicated. I live in a poor country county. There are wealthy people here (big landowners) and then the rural poor. We have a small warehouse operation and when we try to hire we run into the most terrible situations. Let’s see, a person wants to work but can’t get here because they don’t have a car. No public transportation is a terrible problem for the rural poor. OR they can’t read well enough to pick an order properly. OR they come in reeking of smoke and alcohol. Really. I just anguish when I know there are children involved who never get a story read to them or a proper hot meal …..well, this is just such a hot button topic for me I could dominate your whole comment section and don’t want to do that. I guess I am struggling with how to make a difference without just mindlessly throwing money at it. In the new year, I have volunteered to help an organization active in literacy efforts. If they can’t read, they can’t work.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Have no fear of dominating the blog. The space is yours as long as you need it.

          Both your comment, and Bob Mielke’s above illustrate something that happens for me. I start, say, with donations to a food bank via Safeway, and then I see the folks shivering outside in the rain. Or in your case, you know they cannot afford transportation AND they are handicapped by literacy. Where do we start first? How much do we do? As you say, how do you make a difference without just mindlessly throwing money at it? Before long, it starts to feel like one enormous unsolvable puzzle and there is a very real urge to avert your gaze.

          I think in some cases all we can do is bear witness. Also, there is a need to cultivate and demonstrate compassion. As you are finding, we can get involved with giving on a level that is meaningful and doable. There will never be a shortage of causes.

          Liked by 1 person

  22. Turning neediness into a competition is just wrong. Period. But there is so much more wrong with this on so many levels, don’t get me started. I stopped giving to food banks years ago for reasons related to administration. I’d rather give through churches that have needy family programs.

    Like

  23. That’s one reason we only donate to the local Submarine Vets. They support local food banks with real money.

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  24. Wow… something does smell fishy. Nice catch, Maggie.

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  25. Sad to be included in those who are cynical. This time of year, often approached by charities, I am equally unsure of giving to those standing on street corners with cardboard signs. These are not the “will work for food” types, these are young people who want help paying their rent. One of these recently made headlines when she and her toddler (another ploy) stepped off the curb with their sign and donations and into a Mercedes, where “the husband” was waiting. They disappeared when their license plate was captured by an astute i-phone witness. It’s hard to trust. Thanks for your post.

    Like

    • And thank you for your comments. There are so many stories, aren’t there? It is so difficult to make informed decisions when the information you need is obscured or deliberated twisted. When in doubt, I go with my gut and try to be generous and kind. But if I were to find out that I had been duped? Hell hath no fury, etc. etc.

      Liked by 2 people

  26. Maggie, a very worthwhile post. It is a complex situation, and I’m glad you’ve drawn our attention to it.
    It is hard to know sometimes what to do for the best outcome.

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  27. So much—ahem!—food for thought here in the post and the comments. One of the problems for me is simply that the whole campaign seems to trivialize one of the worst socio-political problems in the world and all of the people and institutions that are sincerely trying to alleviate and heal that wound. At the same time, it raises a number of problems that I think perpetuate and exaggerate the problem, problems related to how little most of us know about hunger anywhere, and how little transparency most of the aforementioned people and institutions working to feed the hungry are able (sometimes, even willing) to provide. We all want to know that what little we can and do contribute will go to actual improvements and change for the better, not to make shallow or weak attempts to popularize The Cause.

    A simple hint of what I mean: the discussion here about the photo. The faces of poverty and hunger vary widely. My family and I had a few experiences ourselves, when I was young and Mom and Dad on a pretty humble income, with people assuming we were “spoiled” or “rich” because we were clean, healthy, and educated (thanks to our parents’ sacrifices) and white, and we were well dressed in our very carefully hunted and maintained thrift store and hand-me-down clothes. Later, neighbors were objecting to the development of a Habitat for Humanity type sub-neighborhood because of the undesirable [unspoken definitions: poor, irresponsible, uneducated, dirty, uncivil, etc] kind of people it would bring next door to them, all the while saying this to my father, who finally asked the rest of the community meeting attendees if they found me objectionable, too; I was living in the neighborhood because as a new grad school graduate/university teacher I couldn’t afford the rent of anything close enough to work except renting from my parents, and along with other invisible aspects, I qualified for this same low-income development. That shut down much of the discussion for the moment, but I don’t think much has changed in this regard. We rarely know which of the people we see (or fail to see) around us every day are actually at-risk for any number of the problems and struggles we typically assume are distant. Seeing ads and campaigns like this, however well-meaning they might be, makes it too easy to be dismissive and think that if the very agencies we’re entrusting with this needed change don’t seem to have a clue or a realistic view, then it’s not worth our trying to be part of the force for positive change either.

    I’d like to think we’re able and willing to alter both the attitudes and the situation, and hope that even discussions like this will lead us to do so. Thanks for reopening the conversation today.

    xo,
    Kathryn

    Like

    • This is a beautiful and thoughtful comment, Kathryn. I appreciate your writing, very much.

      “We rarely know which of the people we see (or fail to see) around us every day are actually at-risk for any number of the problems and struggles we typically assume are distant.”

      Yes – a variation of the sentiment “be kind to everyone, for everyone is dealing with something”. More and more, I am finding some comfort in knowing that every day I can “do” something to help – that is, I can “do” kindness and generosity. If I choose to, that is – not always easy, nor not always a default position. It’s a starting point, a turn around point from throwing up my hands and moaning, “but what can I do that will make a difference?”

      Like

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