When I’m hungry, it’s usually because it’s been at least a couple hours since my last meal.
I either go to my fridge prepare a meal, reach in my bag for an “emergency snack” or every so often I go and pick something up from a restaurant. While I am on a budget, even though I get “hungry”, I am never far from food, nor do I worry that I cannot get enough food in some way.
But am I really hungry? Can that temporary absence of food in my stomach that I experience and associate with hunger actually be called that?
Lately, I have been forced to question that idea. That maybe hunger goes beyond that sensation in my stomach between meals and snacks. Maybe hunger is something I’ve never actually experienced, not really.
The sad truth is that Food Insecurity is a real and pressing problem. Millions of people in the U.S. and Canada live in households that lack the means to get enough nutritious food on a regular basis. This means that millions of children face uncertain or limited access to nutritionally adequate food. They don’t just get hungry in between meals. They worry about when the next meal might be. Makes my empty stomach 2 hours after snack time seem pretty inconsequential.
Childhood hunger isn’t just a matter of children being a little hungry every now and then. A who child lacks access to nutritionally adequate food is sick more often, recovers more slowly and is more likely to be hospitalized as a result of a more serious illness. They are more likely to experience fatigue, stomach aches, headaches and infections. They are ironically more likely to suffer from obesity since unhealthy food is cheaper than nutritious food. And there are mental and emotional concerns as well: they simply don’t learn as much and cannot concentrate in school and have higher rates of behavioural and emotional problems such as anxiety or aggression.
Simply put, child hunger puts the child at a disadvantage not only as a child, but for the rest of their lives.
In the U.S. 16.2 million children face food insecurity and 2.5 million Canadians face this same thing. In Canada, we are seeing an increase in the rates of Rickets. A condition that is entirely preventable and results from a lack of vitamin D and sunlight which causes bones to soften and hence are more prone to deforming. And this is the result of not getting enough sunlight and vitamin D rich foods.
We are in highly developed countries, but our children are suffering basic, preventable diseases and issues because good food just isn’t available or accessible.
This is why I am joining in with hundreds of fellow bloggers with Food Bloggers Against Hunger to both bring you a budget-friendly recipe and a call to action.
Many of Americans who participate in the national food stamp program only have about $3-4 per person per day to supplement their food budget. And since the government subsidizes things like wheat and corn instead of fruits and vegetables, what families are able to buy isn’t food that is going to do them a lot of benefit.
This recipe is built around easy to access produce and ingredients that would be found in most grocery stores. It is nourishing and budget-friendly and of course, extremely delicious. I have included options for more inexpensive ingredients as well as slightly more expensive depending on the need. But I priced this out and this dish costs about $3/serving to make and it’s insanely nutrient rich. You could even cook up some inexpensive brown rice, barley or whatever grain you prefer or throw in some cooked beans to beef it up more, cheap staples that add bulk and extra nutrition. Feel free to play with it!
Warm Kale Salad with Shitakes and Coconut Sauce (Vegan, Gluten-free, Paleo)
- 1/2 bunch kale, shredded (or another green)
- 4 mushrooms, sliced thin
- fresh ground pepper
- drizzle olive oil (optional)
- 1/2 a butternut squash or squash of choice, cubed
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
- 1/4 cup coconut “crack” sauce (recipe below)
- 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seeds)
Preheat oven to 475. toss cubed squash in coconut oil and oregano and roast for 30 min.
Sauté shitakes in water with pepper over low-medium heat until they start to release their juices and brown. Add more water as needed so they don’t stick.
Add the kale and sauté until wilted and soft, adding water if needed.
Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Drizzle olive oil. By drizzling the olive oil at the end, you preserve the fats in the oil and get more nutrition. This is ensuring you get the most from your ingredients and hence, your money!
Add butternut squash and coconut crack sauce and toss to combine.
Sprinkle with seeds of choice and serve warm.
Coconut “Crack” Sauce (Vegan, Gluten-free, Paleo)
This sauce is incredibly addictive. It makes anything you put it on taste divine! You won’t need all the sauce for this recipe so save it and put it on everything!
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- spices: 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp turmeric, fresh ground pepper
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 tbsp sugar (or coconut sugar)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
Sauté the onion and garlic with spices in a few tbsp of the coconut milk till softened. Add the rest of the can along with the sugar and sea salt. Bring sauce to a simmer and cook until sauce thickens, about 20 min.
Now, this post is more than just about food, it is a call to action. While I don’t live in the U.S., I do believe passionately in the work of Food Bloggers against Hunger and the documentary A Place at the Table.
A Place at the Table premiered on March 1st, 2013. This documentary follows three families struggling with food insecurity, and sheds light on the very real problem of hunger in America.
Here’s what we’re up against. We subsidize the wrong products. Millions of Americans live in food deserts without access to healthy ingredients. The foods we should be eating—fruits and vegetables—are more expensive than the chips, sodas, and processed foods that are available. We currently spend a mere $1 per week per child in school meal programs. Food stamp participants are only allocated $4 a day to survive.
SNAP—the nation’s food stamp program—is at risk for severe cuts that would impact millions of families, especially children, that rely on school meals and food stamps to survive. In response to the film, the country’s leading anti-hunger organizations, Share Our Strength, Bread for the World, Feeding America, and The Food and Research Action Center, are asking supporters to help spread the word.
Private sector programs and charities aren’t enough. The only sustainable solution is for government policies to change, so we must make our voices heard.
This is where you all come in! There are 2 things I would love for you all to do:
1. Take 30 seconds and send a letter to congress and ask them to support anti-hunger legislation. The more letters we submit, the better!
2. Watch A Place at the Table the film either in your city or on demand through iTunes and Amazon.
I’ve also been given the opportunity to offer 2 readers a companion book to A Place at the Table and a fork pin so show your support for all to see. Here’s a picture of the pin:
To enter, please leave a comment telling me you sent a letter in (YAY), what your favourite part of A Place at the Table is, or just tell me your thoughts on Food Insecurity in developed nations. Just one entry per person on this one!
Thank you all so much! Please do go check out the other bloggers participating (list can be found here) and let’s do our part to help tackle child food insecurity.