First, I never actually get to see a home game. I only have a sense of what’s happening based on the roar of the crowd. That’s because I’m too busy serving up nachos and Mountain Dew to even get a glimpse of the game.
On the flip side, I get some insight into the secret lives of teenagers.
That’s because, with the exception of my children’s friends, no one pays the least bit of attention to the middle-aged woman taking their food orders and their money.
I’m grateful that I often witness generosity. Many teens are more than willing to hand money to the stranger ahead of them in line who bought more food than he/she could afford. They are also inclined to throw their extra change into the band boosters donation bucket.
While I’m impressed with these gestures, I also wonder if they even value the money they are so willing giving to others.
I’m not just being cynical.
That’s because, as a band mom, I’m generally one of the last people to leave the football stadium. Band boosters are responsible for cleaning the mess people leave behind, and we are often there long after the last of the fans are gone. What they leave behind isn’t pretty. To quote another band parent after the homecoming game last Friday night “people are complete slobs.”
While I agreed with her, I was struck by another thought. “People are so wasteful.”
I’ve been shocked at the dozens of nearly full bottles of blue and red Gatorade ($2.00 each at the concession stand) that were left in the women’s bathroom. Pizza, hot dogs and nachos are left half eaten in the stands, and the trash cans also overflow with the same.
My parents never told me I had to eat everything on my plate because there were starving children in Africa, but they did expect that I wouldn’t waste food. If you didn’t plan to eat something, you didn’t put it on your plate and you certainly didn’t buy it. And if your eyes were bigger than your stomach, you packed up the food and took it home for later.
Maybe I’m getting old and maybe my memory is faulty, but I certainly don’t remember people wasting food like they do now, especially in a time when food insecurity has been in the spotlight.
Volunteer backpack organizations are constantly seeking donations so they can send food home with low-income children. Food pantries often run low on staples and many churches offer meals for those who can’t afford them.
And yet people at high school football games seem to buy food only to throw it away as though it has no value.
A part of me wonders if any hungry children attend those games and look with disbelief at all the waste. Another part of me recognizes that most hungry children probably can’t afford the price for a high school football game, not to mention the transportation to and from it. They certainly aren’t among the teens who hand me $20 and even $50 bills on a Friday night with the knowledge they will go home to a refrigerator full of food.
Many kind-hearted, caring people go out of their way to ensure others don’t go hungry, but we are somehow failing to address the other side of the same coin: waste and greed.
My children have been asked to participate in countless food drives, but I’m not sure they’ve ever been taught the actual value of food.
And while I’m trying to follow in my parents footsteps and teach that food is a resource just like money and our environment, I fear all I’ve done is to teach my children to enjoy food and that my efforts are, well, wasted.