"To admit the existence of hunger in America is to confess that we have failed in meeting the most sensitive and painful of human needs. To admit the existence of widespread hunger is to cast doubt on the efficacy of our whole system." -George McGovern, 1972
This past June, my friend Lauren asked me to join her in a pet project of hers, Blogging Against Hunger. (You can read my previous post here.) I wrote a lengthy, fact-filled post about how hard it was to feed a family of four in my county. I wrote about how food insecurity affects children. It was quite verbose. So when it came time to participate once again, I felt like I little left to write about.
But now things are worse. Family homelessness is rising in the United States. 2008 has been declared the year of global food crisis. Food banks are experiencing an increased demand for groceries along with a decrease in donations of food and monetary gifts. As the holiday season approaches, many Americans are not worried about putting presents under the tree, but how they are going to put the next meal on the table.
When I look back, I was probably considered "Food Insecure" while I was in nursing school. At the end of each quarter; my student loan money would be running out, my work hours were decreased so I could study for finals and my cafeteria card was often "frozen" and useless until I could pay the balance. For two weeks, my roommate and I would eat ramen noodles, rice and canned goods that had been passed over when times were better. When we went to work as nurse's aids in the hospital, we would load up our pockets with crackers and broth from the patient "kitchens". My mom would offer to take me to Costco, but I couldn't afford the gas to drive to pick it up. As desperate I thought I was back then, I never went hungry. I never went to a food bank. I never went to a soup kitchen. I never faced what many families face now.
The other night at work, while examining one of my patients, I heard her stomach growl. A pregnant lady with her stomach growling. After I finished my assessment, I raided the kitchen. I pulled out turkey sandwiches, pudding, fruit, juice, milk, crackers, whatever I could find and brought it into the room. I told her kids to hop up on the bed and have a picnic with mom while I went and called the doctor. After I discharged her, I wondered, if she hadn't come in that night would her kids have gone to bed hungry? This woman had a job and so did her husband. They had health insurance. But they didn't have enough to eat. It's happening here, in America, people are going to sleep hungry. Parents are going without food so their kids will not.
I know for many, times are tough. But I am asking you to help your local food bank. Anything you can give will be helpful. It can be as easy as changing the day or store that you shop for your groceries! On December 9th, Whole Foods will be donating 5% of the day's net sales to local charities like Bay Area Food For Families and Coats For Kids. You can check their website to see which charity they are supporting in your area. Find out other ways you can give (or get) assistance through the links below:
The Hunger Site
America's Second Harvest
Bread For The World
If none of those sound appealing to you and you live in Northern California, Mr. Misha has a fun and easy way to help. When the nieces and nephews of the his clan were still believers, he would dress up as Santa on Christmas Eve and hand out presents to all of the good little boys and girls. His mom was going to give the suit away, but Mr. Misha said, "We have friends with kids who still believe in Santa!" So, he has brought the suit home and I am taking reservations for those of you who would like to visit your house this December. He will be busy on Christmas Eve delivering presents, but any other day between Thanksgiving and the 23rd of December is available on a first come, first served basis. All he asks is that you make a donation of non-perishable food to your local food bank. You can either drop it off yourself or give it to Santa when he visits and he will drop it off for you! Contact me off blog if you want to schedule a visit.
If you would like to participate in Blogging Against Hunger, you can find out how at these links:
BAH- Blogging Against Hunger (myspace group)
BAH- Blogging Against Hunger (facebook group)