1 in 2 American children will receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits at some point during their lives.
Currently, 1 in 5 American children struggle with hunger.
I’ve spent a good portion of the past week reading about, researching, and thinking about hunger in America and these are the two statistics that I can’t seem to get out of my head. I live in one of the wealthiest nations on this planet, yet half of my country’s children will lack a basic human necessity for some part of their lives. I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around this.
I have been so fortunate thus far in my life to have always had my basic needs met many times over. I’ve lived on the east coast and the west coast, in the suburbs, the city, and the country and no matter where I settled I have always had access to nutritious food at a cost that was affordable to me. This is not the case for far too many of my fellow Americans; just shy of 50 million, to be exact. Even more upsetting is the fact that right now our Congress is proposing $135 billion cuts to the SNAP program (formerly known as the food stamp program), the very program that is helping the men, women, and children in these food insecure households. These cuts could eliminate between 9 and 13 million individuals from the program.
How have we gotten here? Well, there are a lot of factors at play: an unlivable minimum wage, unemployment, and agricultural subsidies that result in processed food costing less than fresh, wholesome food to name a few. But from my point of view, a large part of the problem is that there just aren’t enough of us who care anymore. Back in 1968, the film Hunger in America exposed the reality of children dying of starvation right here in our very own country. The resulting shock and outrage of the American people led to the creation and strengthening of the very same assistance programs so many people rely on today, and virtually wiped out hunger in this country. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line the outrage Americans felt over seeing extreme poverty and starvation in this wealthy nation turned to outrage against the hungry themselves for daring to use the government assistance programs that are funded by our tax dollars. (more…)
Posted by Katie (A Fork in Hand) on April 8, 2013
I was one of those few lucky teenagers who managed to find a group of kindred spirits with whom to spend my time. We were, to borrow a line from the movie Bridesmaids, a stone cold pack of weirdos, but we shared common values, philosophies, and interests in a way that I’ve come to realize is far from the norm in adult relationships, let alone those in the adolescent world. Although I no longer keep in touch with these individuals except in the loosest sense (i.e. Facebook), their influence on my life was enormous. The experiences, conversations, and adventures I had within these friendships largely shaped me into the person I am today.
Probably my favorite of our recurring adventures involved taking the train into Philadelphia. The purpose of these trips was generally twofold: to get out of the rather boring suburbs in which we all lived and to eat at the only vegan restaurant that any of us knew of. You see, while I had committed to a vegetarian diet in my mid-teens, I had a couple of friends who had already taken it a step further to veganism. Eating at a suburban restaurant as a vegetarian in the late 90s was difficult enough, but trying to find something vegan on the menu? Well, let’s just say I watched my friends eat way too many plates of french fries. But at “our” restaurant we all had an entire menu of food to choose from. No restrictions. No badgering the server to make sure there was no dairy or honey or chicken broth hiding in our entrees. Just ordering off a menu like normal teenagers. In a word: free. And it was this very freedom that made these trips so enjoyable and so memorable for me. It wasn’t, of course, just the freedom I found from being able to choose whatever I wished off of a menu. It was also the freedom I felt from leaving, even if for only a few hours, the town in which I had spent my entire life, the places I would always go, the things I always did. It was about having experiences and making discoveries on my own; relying a little less on the adults in my life and a little more on my peers. Becoming an adult. (more…)
Posted by Katie (A Fork in Hand) on February 19, 2013