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Suffering from Netflix fatigue? Here's how to really rejuvenate yourself.


I cried because I had no Netflix - until I met some kids who had no lunch. Or dinner.

Not as catchy as the original saying, attributed to Helen Keller - "I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet" - but the sentiment is the same.

While some people are lamenting that they have only one premium streaming video service to help them shelter-in-place during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are in our midst people who don't know where their next can of Vienna sausages or potted meat will come from.

Fortunately for some of them, there are people, government and community agencies and businesses trying to ensure that the wrinkles in their bellies are smoothed out..

Take the hyper-competitive business of restauranting, where profit margins can be as thin as a sauteed onion. Instead of battling each other over a shrinking - nay, disappearing - diners' market, some of them are combining forces and giving away food.

Joe Giampapa, one of the owners of Travinia Italian Kitchen in Morrisville, said his restaurant is preparing meals for hungry school children and their families who might otherwise go hungry because schools are closed. Other restaurants - including some that have closed down during the pandemic - he said, are donating food.

I asked Giampapa if he needed any volunteers.

"We pretty much have everything we need right now," he said. "Our staff has kindly donated their time. They don't like to be sitting at home doing nothing, so they come in for the pre-lunch and pre-dinner hours and help us put the food in packages and put it in the vans and deliver it,

"It was the right thing to do. We didn't want to see food go to waste and people be hungry. We said 'Why don't we just put our heads together, make donations and see how far it gets us."

How far has it gotten you? I asked.

"So far," he said, "we've done a couple thousand meals in the last couple of weeks."

He cited "a combination of charitable organizations - one is called 'Bridge the Gap' - some of the churches and Wake County itself. If they buy the food and bring it here, we'll cook it up ... or we'll go buy it, give them the receipts and they reimburse us."

Karen H. Morant, regional director of Wake County's Western Human Services Center,

said Travinia's support has been "critical. Through our partnership with Boston Market, we are able to feed children 18 and under, but Travinia was the first to come onboard to help us feed our adults neighbors."

The restaurant, she said, was serving food to people curbside - "and if they couldn't pay, they'd give it to them" - when she reached out to form a partnership.

Just as the rates of coronavirus infection and joblessness and despair have increased exponentially, so, too, Morant said, have the number of people they are feeding. She said they served 4,200 meals the first week, 8,120 the second and more than 9,000 the third week - with a couple of days remaining.

Morant said that despite what Travinia and Boston Market are doing, they still need help.

"We need non-perishable items for our three main pantries - Dorcas Ministries, Western Wake Crisis Ministry and White Oak Foundation," she said, as well as pasta and sauce, takeout trays and volunteers who would serve the packaged food at various food distribution sites while maintaining social distancing and food safety measures.

When Magic Johnson went to play pro basketball in Los Angeles as a wide-eyed 19-year-old from Michigan, he said he thought Los Angeles was a place where poor people drove their own Mercedes Benzes.

There is a perception among some that being poor in Cary means you only own one vacation house.

I asked Morant, whose passion for this project came through over the phone, if she has to battle that perception to get people to realize that hunger exists in Cary.

"That's been said about Apex, Morrisville and Wake Forest, too," she said of the perception - the misperception - that there is no hunger in those areas. "We were able to use data to show that there is a need" for help in those areas.

Durham Public Schools recently suspended its meal distribution program because a worker tested positive for COVID-19, although there are other ways for children and adults to be fed. For a list of sites where food is being distributed - and to find out how you can help - go to the Durham Public Schools' website at www.dpsnc.net.

One good thing that comes from a crisis - if any good thing can come from what our world is presently experiencing - is that people tend to rally 'round their neighbors who are in need.

The next time you feel woe-is-you because you've emptied your last bottle of organic balsamic vinegar or the grocery store was out of that California white that would have gone perfectly with the filet of sole you had for dinner or - as happened to me - the only Vienna sausages left at Harris Teeter were made from chicken, remind yourself just how good you have it.

And ask yourself how you can help make someone else's burden lighter and stomach fuller.

I guarantee you that Morant and the people at the Western Regional CAC Food Security Action Group and the different organizations in Durham that are trying to feed hungry people can find something for you to do, someone you can help.

Just click on these links. I promise, it'll be better than Netflix.

To donate : kirksummerfoods@gmail.com

To volunteer: stepharnold007.wixsite.com/volunteerwestwake

To make a need request to Western Region Emergency Food Distribution Initiative email: westernregionfoodneeds@gmail.com


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