When there was an unprecedented time of need … food banks across America met it with an unprecedented response.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Until Red & Black started taking some interesting detours, Red never thought about food banks and didn't understand everything that they do; and although Black did, it wasn't until the pandemic that she fully appreciated how many people face food insecurity (in 2021, it could be over 40 million people, including 13 million children).

Red's perspective changed when we started doing speaking engagements across the country for the Morgridge Family Foundation back in 2014-2015. Their conference not only attracted K-12 teachers but also educators teaching at organizations, such as food banks. At the Orlando event, we were introduced to Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, and after a tour of its facilities and conversations with its innovative President and CEO and the Life Skills Education Manager, Red quickly realized how little she knew about food banks,

Who knew that food banks provided so much more than just food? Well, I certainly didn't! How was I to know they provided life skills classes (including learning about money) and taught technical skills to help prepare individuals for a successful career (not just a job) in the food industry? Which reminds me of that quote, "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime."

Black, on the other hand, was already familiar with the Feeding America organization (approximately 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries across the country), often being a lifeline for those in need. So, she wasn't surprised that when the pandemic struck, they were there on the front line as the need for food skyrocketed. But still, she was caught off-guard,

What I find disheartening is the number of people who were first-time food bank recipients – people who in the past might have been donors or volunteers. Just look at the pictures of the cars, some very nice cars, waiting in line for hours, hoping to get food for their children, their neighbors, and, possibly, themselves. We have not seen food lines in America since the Great Depression, and they are a frightening reminder of the devastation of the pandemic. Yet, at the same time, we are reminded how critical food banks are to the well-being of communities. And, dependent on the generosity of others.

If you feel that you've been fortunate during the pandemic, please consider reaching out to help others that are less fortunate by donating – money or time – to your local Feeding America Food Bank.

A businessman, a horticulturist, and a missionary. Sounds like the start of a joke, but it's a description of the legend known as Johnny Appleseed.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Red, and her two daughters, learned about Johnny Appleseed (who was born John Chapman) in elementary school – a man wandering the frontier and randomly planting apple trees. Looking back, it sounds more like a Disney story (in 1948, it actually was its own video as part of the Melody Series); but Red like to think she's indebted to him because she loves all varieties of apples, especially the ones that are best in the fall, including her favorite, Honeycrisp.

Although Black vaguely remembers the folk story (she was pragmatic even as a child), she's fascinated by the real-life story of John Chapman … a strategic businessman who traveled west and found unclaimed land, planted apple nurseries (not edible apples, but ones for making apple-based alcohol which was very popular at the time) on them to claim ownership, and then later sold the trees and land. But he was about more than making money, as his values (he was a missionary, advocated for animal rights, and ultimately became a vegetarian) defined him … as a man and a legend.

P.S. – There are two dates for Johnny Appleseed Day, September 26 because it's his birthday, and March 11 because he died in March (but not on the 11th) and it coincides with prime apple planting season.

Happy Meals. Lasik surgery. A Supreme Court justice. Any idea what these three things have in common?

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Although Hispanic Heritage Month started in 1968 as a week-long event, Red, the straight-A student and lover of history, is a bit embarrassed that she didn't know about it, but the theater major in her realizes they're under-represented (and misrepresented) in the movies. When we talked about the comparison of "In The Heights" to "West Side Story," Black wasn't only focused on the business aspects but also how it reflects the times, and now is interested in the many contributions (including patents) made by Latinx, and the need for inclusion and diversity.

P.S. – We were both curious why the month-long celebration begins mid-month (September 15) and discovered it's in honor of the anniversaries of national independence for many Latin American countries.

Can something be "new" if it's made with "old" ingredients?

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Black's fascinated by the business and marketing aspects of food mash-ups (especially the multi-generational angle), while Red's excited that her beloved Dunkin' has collaborated with Post Cereals and there's now Dunkin' cereal (and both of us love the tag line, "Now you can have your coffee and eat it, too!). Funny thing is that we've all probably been doing our own "mash-ups" for years (ok, maybe not Black).