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This Tumblr user perfectly explained why a Minneapolis food bank's new strategy is so important.

A Minneapolis food bank teamed up with the local law enforcement in a program designed to help hungry people find food.

As we all know, food banks are one of the main ways communities fight hunger. But recently, Minnesota food bank Matter started doing something special.

The food bank is teaming up with the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office (encompassing Minneapolis) to help distribute food.

Officers will keep boxes with nutritious food in their cars, and if they come across someone in need over the course of their patrol, they'll be able to provide them with things like raisins, oatmeal, granola bars, and canned vegetables.


There are a lot of people in Minnesota who will benefit from this:

Based on data put out by Feeding America, with a population of more than 5.4 million in Minnesota, there are hundreds of thousands of hungry residents.

As an added bonus, the program will give the police a chance to develop a relationship with members of the community.

"There's no doubt in my mind that we will come across a number of those who are less fortunate, maybe even homeless. This will allow the deputies to build a little rapport, reach out to them, [offer] a healthy alternative to what they might be doing." — Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio


Some folks have pointed out that small-scale assistance won't put an end to the bigger problems that cause hunger and poverty.

Recently one of my co-workers shared a story of a restaurant owner who put a sign on her door offering a meal to the person she knew was digging through the trash at night looking for leftover food. While the story garnered many positive comments, we were surprised to see how many people (both on our post and on similar stories elsewhere on the Internet) commented saying that these case-by-case examples, whether it's cops handing out granola bars or restaurant owners offering a free meal, aren't doing enough to solve those long-term problems.

It's no secret that, for many homeless people, finding food is a daily struggle.

What's maybe not so obvious is that for many folks, even if they do manage to find food reliably, it can be as big a curse as it is a blessing.

One Tumblr user, who agreed to let me share his story here, responded to those criticisms and offered up some insight on what it's like being homeless and hungry:

It reads (emphasis added):

"When I was homeless, I was so constipated all the time — [a] combo of limited access to restrooms and living on one meal a day from the back door of the pizza place... but you can only live on stale pepperoni deep dish for so long before your guts start to rebel. And that was when i was — what, 19? 20? It's gotta be so much worse for older people, and not everyone's got such a nice restaurant to mooch off of. Eating actual trash will f*ck your stomach up like whoa. You never know how painful gas can be until you eat something that was a little farther past the sell-by date than you thought it was, it turns your stomach into a chemical refinery, and the nearest open public restroom is a mile away."

"Handing out raisins and oatmeal looks, at first glance, like one of those officious 'spend your food stamps on lettuce' clusterf*cks that middle-class people are always perpetrating because they've never been in the shoes of the people they're trying to 'improve'. But actually, it's a great idea, and this is gonna make a lot of people a little healthier in immediate, tangible ways. We're not talking some vague probability-of-heart-disease-in-20-years stuff. We're talking standing a little straighter and breathing a little easier the very next day."

jumpingjacktrash.tumblr.com



When it comes to solving problems as big as poverty and hunger, we can't just focus on the big picture and we can't just focus on the small-scale stuff. It's only through a combination of both approaches that we'll ever find a way to make things better.

In the meantime, I think the partnership between Matter and the Minneapolis-area sheriff is a fantastic and unique approach that has a lot of benefits for individuals AND for the community, and I hope we see more cities using this as an example soon.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

TikTok about '80s childhood is a total Gen X flashback.

As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

And '80s hair? With the feathered bangs and the terrible perms and the crunchy hair spray? What, why and how?

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Ginger's family never gave up hope, and it payed off.

Ginger the dog was missing for five years before being reunited with her family.

A sweet pup is finally home with her family where she belongs after way too many years away.

Ginger the dog was stolen from her family back in 2017. Her owner, Barney Lattimore of Janesville, Wisconsin, never gave up the hope that his sweet girl was out there somewhere. Whenever he'd see a dog listed on a rescue website or humane society website that even remotely resembled his Ginger, he would inquire about the dog. Unfortunately, it was never her. You'd think that after a while he would stop, but if he had, he likely wouldn't have gotten the sweetest reunion.

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When a couple has their first child, they start out with the greatest of intentions and expectations. The child will only eat organic food. They will never watch TV or have screen time and will always stay clean.

But soon, reality sets in and if they have more kids, they'll probably be raised with a lot less attention. As a result, first-born kids turn out a bit differently than their younger siblings.

"Rules are a bit more rigid, attention and validation is directed and somewhat excessive," Niro Feliciano, LCSW, a psychotherapist and anxiety specialist, told Parents. "As a result, firstborns tend to be leaders, high achievers, people-pleasing, rule-following and conscientious, several of the qualities that tend to predict success."

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