Hunger, Health And Wealth
I remember when a small bag of potato chips used to be 25 cents. Somehow the suggested retail price rose up to 50 cent for small ounce of potato chips.
Junk food is not the only thing that increased, but along with that was the gas prices — which has been a big deal recently.
Some people blame the economy, some blame our leadership, our government and some blame it on consumers. Overall, we all play a role in the hunger disparities and it’s starting right in your community.
You may ask, “How could I be responsible for the thousand of people going hungry every day?” Well, you are not directly responsible for those people.
Let’s look at the big picture.
In 2009, in response to the question, “Have there been times in the past twelve months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?”
18.5 % of people in the U.S. said “Yes.” Nearly 1 in 4 households with children said, “Yes.”
What does this mean to you? This means hunger lurks in almost every community in America.
But, hunger is bigger than America. It’s an global issue and we all can do something
25,000 people die everyday from hunger-related causes.
Take Forgotten Harvest for example, a local food bank in my hometown of Detroit. This organization “rescued” 23.2 million pounds of food last year.
They “rescue” food that grocery stores. schools, restaurants and various businesses would otherwise throw away and donate them to over 435 food donating organizations.
Forgotten Harvest is combating two hunger problems in America: Hunger and waste. That is amazing!
Think of what we can do by rescuing our food. Next time you’re at an event with a surplus of food, why not tell the organizer about Forgotten Harvest or an organization that does something similar.
Using your voice and knowledge of hunger, waste, and malnutrition counts. I always say, if you cannot afford to donate money to food banks, donate your time! Your knowledge and your physical presence in your community will make an impact.
Just think if we all worked together to combat hunger disparities in every community….that would create a global impact!
You don’t like cost of eating healthy? Then I push you to contact legislators and community leaders and do something about it.
But, there are ways to get around that hefty price. Always check your newspaper for coupons, look for fliers advertising sales, and support locally-owned stores, who are more prone to give you a price cut because you live in the neighborhood. You can always choose to volunteer at a food bank!
It hurts me to realize that some parents in America have to choose between paying a house note or buying food for their children, but this is reality! Even when the parents can afford to buy food, there is a lack of knowledge on what the buy and how to be economical. Unfortunately, some families opt to buy the cheaper, calorie and carbohydrate-infested foods. As a result of constantly eating these cheap-but-unhealthy foods and snacks, this increases the high blood pressure, stroke, obesity and diabetes rates in our country. That means more trips to your doctor for prescriptions and more money these families have to come out of to keep themselves “healthy.”
What is the true definition of eating healthy or being healthy? It’s like we as Americans have two choices: buy the cheap-but-unhealthy foods and make more trips to the doctor for medicine or buy the expensive-but-healthy foods and not be able to pay some bills.
The malnutrition in this country is atrocious. But let’s not give up hope. There are lots of other organization out there combating hunger, waste and malnutrition in America everyday.
Here is a list of hunger relief organizations that also strive to keep Americans healthy at the same time. http://dir.yahoo.com/Society_and_Culture/Issues_and_Causes/Poverty/Hunger/Organizations/Relief_Organizations/
Check out this great video from our friends at Feeding America. Celebrities play average Americans trying to keep themselves and their families from going hungry each day.
Serving More Than Food
By Lia Musumeci, member of the Revolution Hunger Outreach Team in San Francisco
In San Francisco one in five adults lacks the resources to provide food for themselves or their families. In the Tenderloin neighborhood, the location of St. Anthony’s soup kitchen, that number is as high as one in two. I learned this fact, among others, on my first day volunteering as a lunch time meal server. I was surprised to learn that St. Anthony’s community meal program serves almost a million meals a year but more surprised to learn the composition of the community that lines up for these warm, nutritious meals. The line that filed past me on that first day included not only the homeless, but seniors and veterans who were unable to find the funds to feed themselves after paying the skyrocketing costs of health care and rent in the bay area. Another eye opener for me was the number of families that gathered in the cafeteria. In conversation with one of these family groups, I discovered that, even though they were working multiple jobs, they found it impossible to stretch their dollars far enough to feed their children.
However, St. Anthony’s serves more than food. It is a community gathering spot. While partaking of the meal, members of the community gather in small groups to socialize and exchange information. While the warm food provides the necessary nutrition for survival, the community provides the equally important emotional support. In addition to socializing, the gathering is an important source of networking. Vital information such as job openings, housing options and the availability of other community support programs ranging from health care to educational opportunities is generously shared. Smiles were contagious as the members enjoyed each other in this nonjudgmental and mutually respectful atmosphere.
At the end of the meal, while gathering the trays, I was greeted by many signs of appreciation. A simple thank you, a smile, a pat on the back, were unexpected and heartwarming. I felt privileged to be a part of the St. Anthony community that day and experience first hand some of the faces of hunger in San Francisco.
Growing Solutions To Hunger in San Francisco
By Sophie Solomon, member of the Revolution Hunger Outreach Team in San Francisco
Last January, I started volunteering at The Free Farm, a community garden in San Francisco. Each Saturday I would help harvest produce grown on-site at the Free Farm and then work at the Farm Stand, where we would give out the produce to members of the surrounding community. The people who stopped by the farm came from all different backgrounds. There was the Italian woman living next door with her ninety year old mother, and the man who stopped by and shared his latest trial-and-error gardening stories.
There were also the people who looked like they were in desperate need of food. And while it was obvious that these people were hungry, I couldn’t make a judgement as to whether the other people who seemed to be okay needed food. I learned at The Free Farm that no matter how well-off a person may seem, we never know their true situations. It isn’t right to make a judgment about someone’s need based on a rash assumption. After all, 197,000 people in San Francisco live at or below the poverty line, more than one-seventh of all San Francisco citizens.
From my experience with The Free Farm I learned about Urban Sprouts’ Summer Sprouts Summer Camp Program at Garden for the Environment, another garden in San Francisco. It was in this program that I learned more about food deserts, areas where healthy, affordable food is hard to find. The Hunters Point/Bayview Area in San Francisco is a food desert, there are no local grocery stores where residents have easy, affordable access to healthy food.
With both my work at The Free Farm and Urban Sprouts I have learned a lot about the issue of hunger in San Francisco. Before these experiences I had no idea how huge of an issue it was and after going through them I realized that I wanted to do my part to help fight hunger. Through working with Revolution Hunger I hope to be able to share the knowledge I learned through my experiences with other teens in San Francisco and hopefully inspire them to help in the fight against hunger!
To Be or Not
I will never be hungry. Even if my grandmother doesn’t cook for a week and I’m left in the house alone…matter of fact, she did that yesterday. No matter how much bread or eggs cost, I will never feel the experience of real hunger. I will never watch my skin cling to my bones. I will never witness family members dying because of malnutrition. I won’t have to worry about walking two miles to a well, to get fresh water for my family. I will never have to pay before I eat. And I certainly will never understand NOT being able to go to the Wendy’s to get a small chocolate milkshake. I will never feel these things because I am privileged. Privileged to live in a country where people waste bread, eggs, clean water, and milk daily. It was the card I was dealt. No choice in the matter. Just the card handed out by the dealer. I have lived my whole life privileged. Privileged to be born without a glass ceiling. Privileged to grow up in the richest country in the world. Remember, it was just the next card that came out of the deck. But, I have choices. I got choices on how I play the hand I was dealt. I got a lot of options. The ball is in my court.
I have read a lot of articles about hunger and famine. I have seen a lot of television segments. The message is consistent. Most of the commentators, writers, and op-ed pages agree. Something is wrong. How can almost one third of the world be hungry, continents starving, but a small country like ours has more than enough food? America’s elephant that never seems to leave the room. But, the part that doesn’t sit well with me is that all of the messengers of this message are small humanist groups. I mean, it was only two weeks ago when almost every person I knew was tweeting about stopping a brutal African warlord from killing more innocent children. And they even took thirty minutes out of their busy schedules to watch a movie about dude. They bought t-shirts. Some bracelets. Even tweeted at Rihanna to take a stance. But, a person dies every 3 minutes from starvation or malnutrition and my friends are quiet. Eerily quiet. Not even a trending topic for the problem.
We’ve seen the stomach churning commercials. We’ve read the statistics. We listened to the documentaries and activists. But we’ve never felt the pain of those going without a sufficient meal for WEEKS.
So I’ve made the choice today to tell my friends that the rights I take for granted are only valid if I fight to give those same rights to others. The bread. The hella expensive bottled water. The meal. These are all things I’ve taken for granted.
Tekiah Jones is the Washington DC New Media Producer for the Revolution Hunger Campaign. Tekiah is a a senior at McKinley Technology High School is planning to study film production and broadcast at Syracuse University.
How does a the Foodbank work?
This is a question I didn’t fully understand the answer to when I began working here. However, this flowchart does a pretty good job of simplifying and explaining the process.
Of course, there are other pieces to the process, but this is the big picture.
Hope this helps you better understand what we do!
RevHunger Reading List
What books about hunger and food justice are you looking forward to reading in 2012?
Revolution Hunger’s Jessie Chen recently attended an Oxfam Hunger Banquet in Berkeley, California. She made this video report about the event—check it out!
Jessie Chen is the San Francisco New Media Producer for the Revolution Hunger Campaign. Jessie prides herself in working with great organizations such as buildOn, Youth Steering Committee, and the ACLU.