Anyone who considers herself a true cook, or chef, or foodie, or connoisseur of kitchen gadgets understands the joy that comes from a full fridge. Or setting out all the ingredients for a new recipe. Or the mmms and ohs from the people around the table enjoying something you’ve spent all afternoon preparing.
Anybody who enjoys planning, preparing, and sharing a meal should consider herself lucky to have enough food every day. Because there are millions of Americans who don’t.
Feeding America reports that, in 2009, over 50 million Americans experienced food insecurity. Of those, over 17 million were children. In 2009, 57% of households experiencing food insecurity relied on food stamps, school lunch programs, WIC, and other nutrition programs to feed themselves and their families.
Despite how pervasive hunger and food insecurity are in our communities, Congress is considering a bill that places the burden of balancing the budget on the most needy. HR1, the proposed federal budget, cuts WIC — providing nutrition support to mothers and small children — by over $700m. It reduces spending on the food stamp program and creates stricter eligibility requirements. It reduces funding for meals-on-wheels and reduced and free lunch programs (often the only source of a hot meal for a senior or child living in poverty).
HR1 doesn’t just affect hungry Americans — it cuts international Food for Peace aid to prevent and reduce hunger by $687m. This affects 18 million people in countries all over the world. To put this into context, the intervention in Libya has already cost about that much. So we are cutting food aid in favor of bombs.
Hunger is not an insurmountable problem. It’s not that there isn’t enough to go around. The United Nations World Food Programme reports that “there is enough food in the world today for everyone to have the nourishment necessary for a healthy and productive life.” The problem is that people who live in poverty don’t have enough money to afford the food they need, especially given the soaring prices of food (especially fresh food).
So, today, I join thousands of advocates and people of faith in fasting to show solidarity with my neighbors who don’t have enough to eat and add my voice to those calling for lawmakers to do what is right — feed the hungry.
It’s only for 4 days, nothing compared to a life of food insecurity. But I hope it will help educate me and, as I share my experience, others about what it means to go to bed hungry. (And I can donate the food I would have eaten in this time to my local soup kitchen.)