Hunger in America: Have You Ever Gone Hungry?

Did you know that 16 million children live in households that struggle to put food on the table?

Put another way, that’s 1 in 5 kids.

It’s absurd isn’t it? The number confounds with its profundity. It feels so big as to be out of reach.

It requires a groundswell of people involved to make their voices heard, to shout if necessary, to keep eyes open for the invisible hungry in our midst and see how we can be the change in our communities and by urging our senators to hear us and reverse this disturbing trend through legislation and programming. It needs all of us to get involved and share our strengths to end hunger in America.

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Food Bloggers Against Hunger
Today’s kind of a special day. My friend Nicole Gulotta, who you may remember a few weeks ago, contributed a guest post for Sesame Crackers with Smoked Salmon and Chive Creme Fraiche along with the food poem that inspired the recipe has done something kind of wonderfully grassroots. It’s even gotten the attention of the New York Times. Over 100 food bloggers today are dedicating their blog post and recipe to talk about hunger and how together we can make a difference and bring hunger to the forefront of peoples’ minds. After all, have you ever gone hungry? Have you ever questioned where and when you would find your next meal? This intrinsic need isn’t something a lot of us have to think about. I hate wasting food and yet find myself guilty time and again. Addressing and curing hunger is not about pointing fingers, but about finding sustainable solutions.

Share our Strength / No Kid Hungry
The past five years, I have volunteered with No Kid Hungry, a national non-profit with the belief that if each of us shares our strength, together we can eradicate hunger among America’s children. Working with them, I have advocated as a sponsor for their Taste of the Nation San Francisco program, helped lead the marketing initiative for Taste of the Nation and finally gotten into the kitchen, teaching cooking classes as part of their Cooking Matters classes, teaching nutrition and cooking to kids in low income communities. Hunger is something I have seen firsthand, working at the Living Room, a homeless street-kid drop-in for three years. It is something I hear about through the hunger cycle of community plays in Cornerstone Theater’s current run of Lunch Lady Courage in L.A.

What Can I Do?
This is a question I ask myself often. The enormity of the problem makes me creative to find ways I can help. Here’s the good news, you can dive in and help too.

Hunger in America- A Place at the Table
  • PARTICIPATE IN YOUR OWN HUNGER CHALLENGE: Subsist on the California daily SNAP budget of $4.72 per person for a week. Write about it. Share your experiences with others. And if you decide to go this route, let me know so I can cheer you on!

The Hunger Challenge
Two years ago, the San Francisco Food Bank invited local food bloggers to live for a week on a SNAP budget and blog about their experiences. My husband and I took their hunger challenge, made more challenging in that we were trying to do it gluten-free. If I was to attempt it again, I would also put an added challenge of making it GMO-free. What we found through our experience is that it is doable to live off of $4.72 per person per day on a SNAP budget, but requires a helluva lot of planning, prep and cooking that a mother working two to three jobs to pay rent may not easily be able to master.

Hunger in America: Assembling Your Hunger Challenge Provisions DAY 1: Time and Shopping List
Hunger in America: Lemon Pepper Tuna with Apple SlawDAY 2: Lemon Pepper Tuna with Apple Broccoli Slaw
Spinach Quiche CupsDAY 3: Cravings and Spinach Quiche Cups
Hummus Veggie TostadasDAY 4: Support and Hummus Veggie Tostadas
Green Smoothies 
DAY 5: Fatigue and Green Smoothies
                                DAY 6: Getting By
Hunger in America: Black Refried Beans DAY 7: Take-Aways and Black “Refried” Beans

 

Comments

  1. Leave a Reply

    Kate
    April 8, 2013

    The SNAP challenge sounds tough; glad to hear it was doable, but if you think about someone with little to no food knowledge, cooking skill or time, it starts to give me chills. Our government officials need to do that challenge. It would be eye opening.

    • Leave a Reply

      Annelies
      April 8, 2013

      Actually, I think there have been some government officials who have participated in it. Make no bones, it is tough, but I will also say that there are still a lot of good foods / ingredients which are not readily available yet. Let’s start with access and then education. Teaching how to use the ingredients and why is the next step. Each of us can be a part of teaching and learning. Thanks for your comment, Kate!

  2. Leave a Reply

    Faith
    April 9, 2013

    A beautiful post, Annelies. The SNAP challenge sounds pretty enlightening. Even just one meal was an eye-opener for me, which is why I’d love to share more nutritious, budget-friendly meals on my blog.

    • Leave a Reply

      Annelies
      April 9, 2013

      Yes! It was enlightening and a good reminder of how much work it takes to eat well with little.

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