Have you ever been hungry? Truly hungry. Not just "I forgot to eat today! Oops!" hungry. Or "I'm on a diet and eating less than I used to" hungry. Or "What's in my pantry to last until payday?" hungry. We've all experienced those sorts of hunger.
I mean "not knowing where your next meal is coming from" hungry. "My children go to bed without dinner" hungry. They have no ramen to squeak by on, no PBJs to get tired of. Their pantries are bare, their freezers unstocked, and
With the economic downturn, people who have never experienced hunger may experience it for the first time. Hunger is not limited to the inner city and the homeless. 40% of the people who use the non-profit organizations associated with the FreestoreFoodbank are from suburban or rural areas. 57% have at least a high school education. 28,600 different people receive services per week.
This is just in Cincinnati.
Worldwide, 16,000 children die daily of hunger related issues. 923 million people are hungry daily. Poverty, the focus of Blog Action Day 2008, finds its most extreme form in hunger. Food is our most basic need, and not being able to eat is something that is unfathomable to most Americans.
Food costs are up. Inner city areas often don't have the same kind of access to fresh food that suburban areas do. People who don't have cars, can't afford public transit, and are limited to convenience stores aren't even eating real food. Hypertension, diabetes, and obesity-related diseases are caused by this malnutrition. Hungry? No. Well-fed? Not really.
So what can you do? Start local. Help your neighbors.
1. Support the FreestoreFoodbank. It's easy-- you can donate online. You can organize your own food drives. You can even donate to the virtual food drive, which allows you to buy things that are truly needed. It's sort of like online shopping, with free shipping and everything goes to a great cause. Myrita Craig, spokesperson for FreestoreFoodbank says, "When we feed someone, we earn their trust, and we use that trust to talk about how else we can help them by utilizing any of our programs (housing, foodstamps, medicaid, job training, bus tokens, work clothes, etc.) It is our mission to help people become more independent and self-reliant, and food is the catalyst for that change. Food is where our work begins, not where it ends."
2. Replate. This one's a little off the wall-- but makes so much sense once you think about it, particularly if you live in an urban area.
It's a pretty simple movement: you're walking down the street in your urban metropolis, burrito or sandwich or bagel in hand. Considering the way portions have gotten out of control, chances are you won't be finishing that item that's approximately as large as your forearm. So here are your choices:
1) Wrap it up, put it in your bag, and save it for later (whenever I do this, it either ends up leaking in my bag or I end up throwing it out anyway. Yuck.)
2) Throw it out in the nearest garbage can.
3) Go to that garbage can, and instead of tossing it in... put it on top.
Pretty simple, huh?
I'm not saying to leave tins of mayonnaise-laden tuna salad to rot in the sun and give people botulism. I'm not saying to leave a full meal on top of a garbage can in a bag (though if you want to, hey, bully for you!). Just be thoughtful about your leftovers and their eventual demise, and maybe help out someone who would really appreciate what we throw away.
For some ideas about what you can eat on a limited budget, check out The Hunger Challenge.