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Editor's Note: Choose donations carefully

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012 12:09 p.m. CDT

Walk with me through a bit of a no-brainer.

Trash is defined as anything that is “broken, discarded or worthless.”

Nobody wants trash.

If somebody offered to give you trash, even with the best of intentions, you would probably decline. If you felt bad about it, you might accept the trash in the spirit it was intended – and then throw it away. By definition, it is worthless. You can’t use it.

Some trash can even be dangerous: broken toys, for example, or spoiled food that can make you sick.

So we’re clear, right? Some stuff just doesn’t have a use anymore. It’s trash.

That is why it strikes me as so surprising how many announcements for food drives I have received in recent weeks that specifically say, “no expired food, please.”

Really? We have to specify that?

A food pantry volunteer told me volunteers have to check dates carefully when stocking shelves.

“We’re not talking expired a couple of days,” she said. “Sometimes we’re talking months.”

I know a lot of people shop their kitchen cabinet for food drives. I’ve done it myself; grabbed some cans of soup or beans, some boxes of rice or potatoes we haven’t opened yet.

But when you come across expired food in your kitchen, you’re supposed to throw it out. It might still be OK, but the manufacturer has essentially said, “Hey, eat it at your own risk, we’re not responsible if you get sick at this point.”

Maybe donors don’t realize it’s expired. Or maybe they thought, “Well, if we haven’t opened this by now, we’re not going to eat it.”

But it’s not doing anyone any favors. If it’s not fit to eat, it’s not fit to donate.

*****

Go Huskies!

Even people who are not Northern Illinois University alumni, and alumni who are not football fans (like me) have Huskie fever. It’s hard not to get caught up in the frenzied excitement over the Huskies’ first-ever trip to the big stage afforded by the Orange Bowl. The team’s new head coach, Rod Carey, finds himself in the dizzying position of coaching a team at the Orange Bowl in his very first game as a head coach. Reporter Doug Oleson got Carey’s thoughts on the upcoming game for this week’s On the Record.

And be sure to check out this week’s cover story. Even with the high national unemployment rate, there are jobs to be had for people who have the right training. For example, there is a nationwide shortage of trained, qualified truck drivers. Find out more about it and the local training program that’s putting people in jobs.

Enjoy your MidWeek.

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