vintage post - hunger in America

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I prefer real food, especially nutrient-dense meat and dairy products and organic produce, eschewing "empty calories" from grains and sugar.

Meanwhile one in six people in the US are hungry. I mean, actually hungry. I mean, they would be quite happy to eat pesticide-laden crap filled with GMOs, white flour and sugar, chocolate produced by child slave labor, not because they prefer that, but because they're actually hungry.

For those of you who think it's because they waste money on other things, or don't cook from scratch, or just don't understand how important real food is, I have a vintage post for you.

vintage post from Jackie Patti

This post is from Beth over at Red and Honey.

A quote:

Let's not assume that all folks who say they cannot afford organic food are stupid, lazy, and making bad choices, lest you find yourself one day in the position of having to choose between eating Chef Boyardee and Oreos from the food bank or going hungry.

Instead, when someone says that they cannot afford to eat organic, I would suggest a healthy dose of compassion and gentle offerings to help, getting to actually know the person and their situation, and perhaps even dropping off a bag of that farmer's market organic produce that you find so easy to come by.

Dear Middle Class America: A little less condescension and little more understanding would probably do us all a world of good. Please don't make me want to throw my homemade yogurt in your face because it's my kids' favourite snack and milk costs a lot of money.

This is the finale of her post after discussing in detail what she does to provide decent food for her family. But don't just read the quote, go read her whole post: DEAR MIDDLE CLASS AMERICA: I HAVE A BONE TO PICK WITH YOU. Go ahead and read it; I'll wait until you get back.

IMO, a bit less condescension and a bit more compassion is called for.

my local food bank

Project Share sign

Give to your local food bank. Seriously. If you can afford pastured meats and organic vegetables, you can afford to throw a few bucks at the hungry in your neighborhood.

I am so massively impressed by my local food bank, Project Share. Most communities have several food banks at different churches. Thirty years ago, my community decided to pool their resources and make a major food bank. 66 churches, schools and civic organizations decided to do this together.

This has allowed several advantages. First, they have refrigerators and freezers, so can provide fresh food instead of just boxed and canned stuff. You can get uncanned meat and fresh vegetables here!

And second, they can use the power of bulk buying to access food cheaper than I can. Right now, they are fund raising for Easter. For $120, they can provide 4 families with Easter dinner packages. There is just no point in me buying stuff for them; makes more sense to just give them money.

They also seem to treat the recipients with more respect than I've ever seen anywhere. They don't give them a prepared box, but allow them to shop. So you don't wind up as a celiac with all gluten-containing foods or like someone like me stuck with ramen and Oreos.

Once a month, they do distribution and provide about a week's worth of food to over 1000 families and 3000 individuals. Volunteers deliver food to homebound participants. Given that we are a pretty small community, this is amazing. 30% of those they feed are seniors; 20% are children. The majority of the adults are the working poor.

On the non-distribution weeks, they run a produce stand. Produce is donated, gleaned from farmers by volunteers and lately they built a hoop house to grow fresh stuff year-round.

They have a backpack program where they send food home each weekend from the schools to children at risk for hunger over the weekend. Last summer, they were doing these distributions in our local parks.

They run a kitchen and do training for both adults and children. They collect cardboard to recycle as a fundraiser. They collect plastic bags and egg cartons to use in distribution.

They accomplish this primarily by volunteer labor provided by 3000 people. Some of the volunteers are recipients as well.

I was considering scaling back my garden this year. I canned so many bread-and-butter pickles last year that I don't need cukes this year; we only eat a handful of them fresh. And I just don't see that I am going to need many zukes either. I am probably growing way more tomatoes than I want to process. And I figure - what the heck, I can enjoy my garden without cutting back and give the excess to Project Share.

You may not have as cool a food bank as Project Share.

In which case, I recommend not just giving money, but volunteering to assist in making changes. As far as I can tell, one woman who is wheelchair-bound, got our community onboard with this project instead of all the little food banks most communities have. She started giving people food out of the trunk of her car!

my farmer's market

Farmers on the Square logo

There are several farmer's markets around here, but I go to Farmers on the Square.

If I have forgotten to get cash, they have a little booth to run my credit card. Costs me $2, so I generally get at least $40. I then receive a bunch of $5 wooden "coins" to spend in the market.

If you are on food stamps (SNAP), you get the same coins. So no one knows you're on food stamps as you're spending the same coins as I am. I think this is kewl as I clearly remember what it was like to have everyone know I was getting free lunch in middle school. Sucked.

If you are on SNAP, WIC or the senior food program, for the first $10 you spend, they give you $20 worth of coins. It's called the Double Up program. I like it.

The farmer's market has fundraisers, sometimes the farmers themselves donate products, some items are raffled, or kewl posters were the most recent fundraiser.

I donate whenever they have a project going. I can't not throw a few bucks at them when I am buying organic lettuce and apples and freaking bones for broth when some of my neighbors can't afford crappy grocery store meat.

It's also why I shop there. I live in central PA, we are pretty much all farms around here, and there are several decent farmer's markets near me. But Farmers on the Square is making at least some organic food available to my neighbors who can't afford it.

Do Something

I know about these programs near me because I investigated. If you're near me, I recommend them highly to donate or volunteer at. If you're not near me, find out what your community is doing. You can search for food banks on the Feeding America site.

I have been disabled and without an income for 8 years. We are broke. I work hard to stretch our own food budget. We eat a lot of legumes (cheap) and eggs (nearly free as we have backyard chickens. I garden to a large degree, growing the most expensive stuff we buy. And yet, we eat well, quite a lot of nutrient-dense foods, mostly pastured meats and primarily pesticide-free produce. So though I scrimp a bit to do it, I manage to throw some money at my neighbors, many of whom are hungrier than I am.

I don't volunteer because my fatigue is variable so it's hard to schedule things where someone would be counting on me. But if you're really too broke to donate and aren't disabled, volunteer. Many of the volunteers at Project Share are recipients of the program.

You can do something to assauge hunger for the one in six.

Adapted from image copyrighted by Red & Honey. Used by permission.