At least two or three days a week, I go all day with nothing to eat. Not because I have to, but because I’m one of those people who works frantically all day and looks up at 5:00 p.m. and thinks – “What happened to lunch?” Given that relatively frequent occurrence, I figured today would be no different and I wouldn’t notice that I was fasting until the evening.

I was wrong.

Not only am I hungry, I keep thinking about the fact that I’m hungry. Maybe because I know there won’t be dinner tonight, the hunger feels worse than it is.  I remind myself that there is no way I’m starving after just 12 hours (I’ve got plenty of reserves built up). But even so, it’s hard to concentrate on work when all I can think is “I’m hungry.”

I can’t imagine trying to sit and learn multiplication tables feeling like this. But, according to the USDA, 17.2 million American children faced food insecurity in 2009. Proper nutrition is the cornerstone of a child’s growth and development. Children without access to proper nutrition have higher risks of health and developmental problems than children with enough to eat. This is not simply neglect by lazy parents — 85% of households with food-insecure children had a working adult in the family, and 70% of those households had an adult employed full-time.  

The New York Times reported yesterday on a study about how much a family needs to cover basic life needs without relying on food stamps and other programs.  It reports that the needed food budget alone is over $8,000 a year for a family of four.  That seems low, since every time I go to Safeway I walk out with four bags and a receipt for over $100 – for just one person.  But then again, though I use coupons, I’m not limiting myself to the cheapest food possible.  I buy those fresh apples, even when they are $1.99 a pound.

Mmmmm, apples.  I’m hungry!