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Hunger is right here, and you can do something about it

standard March 15, 2011 15 responses

Back in January I was fortunate enough to fly south, not for the winter, but to go meet some amazing people in Dallas and learn about the Cooking Matters program. (Free cooking classes that teachers people who have never learned to cook how to cook healthy meals on a budget. Brilliant.)

After a whirlwind 24 hours of touring the Dallas Foodbank, attending a Cooking Matters class for kids, and meeting a bunch of adorable children, I plopped myself down in my airplane seat, fully determined to sleep a bit before being thrown back into my usually hectic life.

Instead I started chatting with the nice lady sitting next to me.

What can I say, I’m a sucker for nice chatty people…

After she told me why she was flying to California (visit with the step-grandchildren) she asked me what I’d been doing in Dallas. Full of my intense learning experience I shared, and shared some more.

“Did you know that 1 in 3 children in Dallas goes to bed hungry at night?”

She stared at me, shock registering in her eyes, then doubt, and finally that look people get when they’ve contemplated an issue and dismissed it as someone else’s problem.

“Well, yes, but it’s those children,” her voice dipped, “down by the border.” She nodded knowingly, face full of self-righteous pity.

“No, it’s not the immigrant children. It’s the kids in your neighborhood.”I corrected her as gently as I could after I recovered my voice.

I went on to explain how the face of hunger has changed over the last two years. How people in nice neighborhoods have to forgo food in order to meet mortgage payments or car payments. How they don’t qualify for state or federal services because they have cars, and incomes, and other nice things that make it seem like they’re doing just fine.

I’m not sure she listened or believed me. She went on to describe the decor in their new beach house, but her words stayed with me. There’s a growing hunger problem in this country because we’re all convinced that it’s someone else’s problem.

I have news for you. 

This morning, at school drop off, you saw families who are struggling to make ends meet. Their children might not get dinner tonight. Yes, you. Even if you go to a fancy school in a fancy neighborhood.

I have more news for you.

You can help.
You can call your school and see if there’s any way to donate money for food for families in need.
You can call your local foodbank to see what you can do.
You can post signs at your local agencies offering to help people read and understand the endless paperwork that has to be filled out to obtain services.
You can get your children involved in running food drives or hosting bake-sales.
You can attend a Cooking Matters class to see what it’s about and learn how you can help. 
You can…

Your turn:
How would you help?
How would you feel if what you did meant one more child had dinner tonight?
Let me a comment below and you’ll be entered to win a neat ConAgra Foods Foundation/Cooking Matters gift pack.
But really, it’s the kids who’ll be winning if you help me spread the word and gain awareness for this incredibly pressing and real issue taking place in our back-yards. 

Giveaway winner will be drawn on Thursday, March 31st at 10pm PST. Comment as many times as you want with original ideas!

The ConAgra Foods Foundation flew me to Dallas and put me up overnight so I could learn as much as possible about the program while I was there. I’m also being compensated for my time. That said, I’m passionate about this cause and I’ll keep raising the roof even when the money runs out.

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15 responses

  • Our local Lions branch funds the Breakfast programme, in which breakfast: toast, fruit, milk … are offered to every kid, whether they’ve eaten or not. That way no one is singled out.

    And every lunch I pack for my kids always includes extras. I know my kids eat one muffin each. How difficult is it for me to send 2 per kid every day? How about 2 apples instead of 1? I know everything’s getting eaten, and it’s worth every penny I might have saved.

  • That is incredible. I am in awe that she would say that to you. What does it matter which children? They’re CHILDREN and they have no food. What on earth!?!

    I’d do what I could to help in my neighborhood. My daughter is not in school yet, but I always donate to food drives, etc. when there is a way to help our community. I love the idea of sending extras with lunch. That is so supportive of your fellow moms and children. So sad. So much to do. Small steps can make such a difference.

  • This is such an important message; thank you for sharing. I remember (ages ago) watching the movie Hidden in America about hunger that happens right here in the USA. It’s very sad, and seems like something so simple & preventable.

  • Any little thing we can do to help our children is a step in the right direction. No child should ever go to bed hungry. We are a nation of waste while so many go without. I am guilty of waste everyday and not doing enough to do my part to help. Having kids of my own has made me aware of how blessed how I am and to turn around and pass those blessings to others, especially innocent and helpless children.

  • Oh so right. Our local food pantry is across the street from our school, so my kids see the people lined up outside in the snow waiting. And they do alot of fundraisers at school for the food bank.

    Did you know people need food all year round and NOT just at the holidays? Yup 😛

    My Brownie troop always takes gift of caring boxes of cookies people brought but didn’t want, and donates them to the food bank. My daughter, was given 6 boxes this year (sad because many people don’t want to look at whats going on in their back yards). My other two daughters who collected gift of caring for the military – over 30 boxes each 🙁 (proving not that people don’t want to donate, just they don’t want to donate to local families in need).

    It’s easier to sweep things under the rug and pretend they are not there then to deal with them.

    One of my good friends – they are struggling due to unemployment. the mom, is barely eating -saving it for her 4 kids. They are eating alot of beans and rice and praying that things change. I just found a GC I have for Omaha Steaks from a friend. I am planning on placing an order and anonymously sending it to my friend. They need it more then I do (as evidenced by how long the gc has been sitting collecting dust).

    What a great program!

  • Shawn Z.

    Perspective. We all need it sometimes. I think it is so true that there are many people struggling to keep a roof over their heads, cars to drive to work and forgoing basic necessities.

    We started a small vegetable garden in our yard that yields so much more than we ever need. This year we will be sure to plant more “kid-friendly” veggies and bring them to our library (they have a great program where you can bring in your garden items and they donate them to a local pantry).

    It’s another good lesson for my kids that shows that hard work can pay off for you and others too.

  • Violetsouffle

    My partner is a teacher and Each month we stock up on food for his classroom because many of these students are only coming to school for the meals. Granola bars, fruit snacks etc-are not even HEALTHY choices but they last a long time an kids can take them hole to eat over the weekend. I can’t tell you how quickly they go, how grateful the kids are, or how badly I wish we could buy more to give them. Thanks for spreading the word.

  • Whenever a family in our neighborhood has an event (new baby, illness, death, etc…) we all rally & set up a dinner schedule for them; make & bring over dinner for the family. It’s somewhat informal as far as who sets it up, but we send out an email to our group (approximate 60 families,) 2 see who can help & when. I always makes a quiche & chicken sausage w/a bag salad (& brownies) bc it’s easy to heat up & can be frozen for later if they need to. I’m sure our group would be up for doing something like this. Do you know who I would contact to set something like that up?
    It’s an easy way to contribute & teach our kids too.

  • Great post! We host neighborhood parties in the summer and ask friends to bring food to take to the Food Bank for their summer program to give food to kids who normally get meals at school during the school year. (See http://myconvertiblelife.blogspot.com/2010/06/grocery-shopping-for-cause.html)

  • This is a great cause for sure. The closest place is in Boston MA for me and I think this would be something great for me to read more about to help, and do this with my daughter if possible. I am big on donating canned foods but I only think to do that during holiday season when those who sit outside of stores have bins to collect. I know this is serious and it isn’t just affecting those you would normally stereotype. I can barely pay for food for my kids, but we make it and we donate when we can. My daughter said something that was funny one time when we were picking out canned foods, we picked canned peas as one and she says “Well what if they don’t like peas” I replied “well I don’t know, surely someone does” and she then says “I am sure they will eat them because if they have nothing then these canned peas are better than nothing” she was SIX years old when she said that.

  • Very sad. I find it hard to reconcile this with the data that 36% of children in Texas are obese,http://www.texaschildrens.org/Parents/TipsArticles/ArticleDisplay.aspx?aid=1357 though. We hear so much about the obesity epidemic, but yet it is going hand in hand with hunger. And the obesity rates are higher among the poor too. Very confusing. Did they address this at your event?

  • @geekymummy Actually yes, the program touches on that. High fat/high sodium food is generally really cheap and easy to get at food banks etc. Cooking matters tries to fight the epidemic by teaching people how to cook healthy food on a tight budget. One of the classes even takes the students on a grocery run to show them how to make smart choices at the store!
    The hunger epidemic and the obesity epidemic go hand in hand and it’s part of the problem. It’s hard to see that an obese person can be hungry… and yet they can.

  • As part of my Biology semester project in college, I did research on hunger in America. It is mind-boggling the things that are happening right next door.

    I’d love to help you spread the word on this project. Would it be okay if I wrote a post up and linked back to you?

  • Perpective! So true. I have food that I won’t give to my children – that other’s would be SO grateful to have. I do save it and give to food bank drives.
    I also try to teach my own children to eat all that they get sent to school with (for snack when they get home, I want them to appreciate the food they have and not be wasteful. I think it’s part of teaching values.

  • Anonymous

    In the last few weeks I’ve eaten cereal for dinner, not b/c I like it, but b/c it would save us making a meal. Food prices have skyrocketed and as a woman w/an unemployed husband if eating cereal for dinner saves us money so be it. What I’m saying is that no one would know I do that. No one would guess that eating cereal means extra food for my kids. So if I have issues, then I can only imagine what families in worse shape then us are going through. Thank you for this.

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