October 29, 2020
We moved after my Freshman year to a town that had a nearby cheese factory. For the next three years my brother and I inhaled dairy products. Mom would buy Longhorn Cheese (by the twenty-pound horn) at least once a month. She also bought milk in a two-and-a-half-gallon carton that slide into the refrigerator with its own pull spout. We went through two of those a week. It was not that mom did not fix other things for breakfast and supper, but we chose to snack on the cheese.
While we were fortunate to have food at home, we always ate lunch in the school cafeteria. We lived in a small town when I was in Grade School. The school lunches were amazing. Not only was it all you can eat, it was good. My favorite was pizza day. This was more like a hamburger pie, with a thin crust, an inch-and-a-half of hamburger mixture and topped off with cheese. My Senior year in a different High School I generally left without breakfast and rarely ate much in the cafeteria. We received a ton (literally) of black-eyed peas from the government for a dollar and had some sort of concoction using them for a solid week. I drew the line at black-eyed pizza. What I did instead was come home at night, fry up some rice, and mixed in some cheese. That is still my go to meal today.
I came across a story online about a piece of cheese. Author Sebastian Junger was hitchhiking through Wyoming when a disheveled man carrying a lunch box asked if Junger had food. Junger assumed they man was asking if he could spare some of what he had. Reluctantly he admitted, he had some cheese. The homeless man said he would never make it with just a little cheese, and gave him a sandwich, an apple, and a bag of chips. Junger said he learned a lot about “true generosity” from this homeless man.
Thoughts: I have worked with and supported homeless shelters in each of the cities and towns where I lived. I have been awed by the generosity displayed by the men and women who frequent them. I have learned this is also a trait of those caught amid poverty. They know the others are their lifeline in times of need and are quick to help when they are able. I was retweeted a quote from Dr. Anthony Fauci yesterday that read, “I don’t know how to explain to you that you should care for other people.” Maybe we should all decide it is time to share the cheese. Do the work. Change is coming and it starts with you.