Grocery store trips require open minds, open hearts…

A trip to the grocery store nowadays requires more than a shopping cart and a routine list. Before stepping out of the car, the COVID-19 precautionary checklist is always top of mind. Mask. Check. Hand sanitizer. Check. Shopping cart wipes. Check. Open mind. Check. The pandemic taught me not to have my heart set on any one particular brand. Sometimes, I see my favorite brand and sometimes I don’t. I have learned to be more flexible and adventurous with food options. The food items on my actual grocery list are not the primary focus any more. Over the past year, my husband and I have been more apt to try new brands than any other time that I can remember. As I age, I find myself paying a lot more attention to ingredient labels. (My Aunt Renetta, who taught nutrition for 15 years as a program assistant for Auburn University, would be proud.)

Last week, I planned to add bagels to our breakfast lineup. I wanted to try whole grain organic bagels. I read the label on the front of this particular bag. It said whole grains and “No High Fructose Corn Syrup.” Check. A few seconds later, I put it in my cart and kept moving. It wasn’t until I got home that I read the side and the back label that said, “Stand Behind Second Chances.” It turns out that the bag of Dave’s Killer Bread bagels that I purchased also support a second chance employment program for people with criminal backgrounds. Reading that warmed my heart. What are the chances that I would select this bag of bagels over all of the other brands? On top of that, I work as a job placement specialist for the STAR Center where I help people with disabilities who are in need of first and second chances! Coincidence? No. This was meant to be. The best part is that the bagels are delicious! I definitely plan on buying them whenever I see them on the shelf again.

About the Author : Wendy Mercer

NOTE: This person is a past employee or intern of the STAR Center. Their name and authorship is preserved for posterity. Wendy Mercer joined the STAR Center team in 2017. She is a job placement specialist and coordinator of the STAR Center Business Advisory Group. Wendy earned her master's degree in teaching from the University of Memphis. She received her bachelor's degree in print journalism from Clark Atlanta University. Wendy is a former special education teacher and freelance writer. Wendy is active with several community organizations. She currently serves as vice president of the Jackson Old Hickory Rotary Club.

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