What would you do if you were hungry?
That is the question posed as part of Food Bloggers Against Hunger Campaign hosted by The Giving Table and the new film A Place at the Table. As I sit here and think about what I would do, I am ashamed to realize that I can’t even imagine what that means. I write a food blog, I subscribe to food magazines, I have the means to shop at Whole Foods and purchase a farm share in the summer. While food and cooking is a hobby for me, 48.8 million Americans—including 16.2 million children— live in households that lack the means to get enough nutritious food . As a result, they struggle with hunger at some time during the year.
This issue overwhelms me and although I say it concerns me I have never actively participated in trying to make a difference. So, here I am dedicating my little slice of the cyber world to this issue for the day. For my day job, I work as a Fundraising and Development Officer in a small Boston Public School. Of our 325 students, almost 70% of them qualify for free or reduced lunch and this year they instituted a free breakfast program. Our students by no means “look” the part of hungry children but for many, the ability to afford healthy and nutritious food is a stressful reality. The following facts I gathered from the Share Our Strength website outline the issue…
WHY CHILDHOOD HUNGER IS IMPORTANT
· Children who struggle with hunger are sick more often, recover more slowly, and are more likely to be hospitalized.
· They are more likely to experience headaches, stomach-ache, colds, ear infections and fatigue.
· Children who face hunger are more susceptible to obesity and its harmful health consequences as children and as adults.
Cognition and Academics
· Undernourished children 0-3 years of age cannot learn as much, as fast or as well.
· Lack of enough nutritious food impairs a child’s ability to concentrate and perform well in school.
Emotional and Social Well-Being
· Children who regularly do not get enough nutritious food to eat have significantly higher levels of behavioral, emotional and academic problems and be more aggressive and anxious.
· Teens who regularly do not get enough to eat are more likely to be suspended from school and have difficulty getting along with other kids.
The closest I have come to experiencing hunger was in college when my friends and I went on the “Cabbage Soup” diet, by day 3 I was exhausted, cranky and had an awful headache. For a child to be dealing with these symptoms on a daily basis is heart breaking. Millions of Americans who take part in the nation’s food stamp program are limited to an average of $3 or $4 per person each day to supplement their food budget. Additionally, the government subsidizes products like soy beans, wheat, and corn instead of fresh produce, so the most affordable food is often the unhealthiest.
If you would all take a moment to think about what you would do if you were truly hungry and had the daily stress of food insecurity I am sure you will have no problem clicking here and sending a letter to congress asking them to support anti-hunger legislation.
Below are a few low-budget snacks that I have enjoyed for years
Celery and Peanut Butter
Raisin and Peanut Trail Mix
Carrot and Celery Sticks
Pretzels and Hummus
Sliced apple with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar
Plain yogurt with honey
This week is “project week” at school and I am leading a group of students on an Urban Foodie adventure. Limited budget has us going on a free, food walking tour in NYC, being hosted for BBQ at Sweet Cheeks and learning how to make regular everyday “teenager food” like grilled cheese and pancakes into and something a little sophisticated and nutritious!