Saturday at the Food Pantry by Diane O’Neill

Saturday at the Food Pantry by Diane O’Neill
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Genre: Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.), Contemporary
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Molly and her mom don’t always have enough food, so one Saturday they visit their local food pantry. Molly’s happy to get food to eat until she sees her classmate Caitlin, who’s embarrassed to be at the food pantry. Can Molly help Caitlin realize that everyone needs help sometimes?

Everyone needs a little help sometimes.

One of the early scenes showed what happened at the beginning of their visit when Molly spied a box of cookies and desperately wanted them. Her mother was worried that their family was going to be harshly judged by what they put into their cart and refused to allow the girl to choose anything unhealthy. This conflict piqued my interest as it was similar to my desires at that same age. I’ll leave it up to other readers to discover how this conflict was resolved, but I can say that I loved seeing how compassionately the author handled it. She couldn’t have done a better job at humanizing her characters and explaining how much things like this matter, especially for people like Molly’s family who are already struggling.

By far my favorite portion of this picture book was the one that addressed the shame people often feel when they need to use food pantries and other forms of social assistance. The tone was so kind and reassuring that it brought a tear to my eye. The author couldn’t have handled this topic better, and I’m saying this as someone who grew up in a family that occasionally needed help to have enough food and other necessities. No one should ever feel embarrassed about visiting a food pantry in order to keep their family fed!

The power of friendship was another beautiful theme in this tale. Everyone needs a support system in life. Molly and her mother added to theirs in a surprising and heartwarming manner. I smiled as I saw this new and exciting chapter in their lives begin to unfold. There was plenty of room here for a sequel, but I was also satisfied with how it was all wrapped up in the end.

Saturday at the Food Pantry was an excellent read for both kids who have personal experience with food insecurity as well as those who might want to learn more about it through the eyes of a sympathetic main character.

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