Join the Hunger Challenge, September 11-17, 2011

September is national Hunger Action month. There are now more than 44.6 million people on food stamps in the US, the largest number in history. Joining many other like-minded organizations around the country, San Francisco/Marin Food Bank is inviting community members to take their Hunger Challenge next week, starting Sunday. The main goal of this effort is it to experience how challenging it is to eat healthfully on $4.92 per family member, per day (the amount granted to food stamp recipients). Our family is leaving town next week, but prior to our trip, we will be eating simple and inexpensive meals in honor of this Challenge.

As I contemplated our participation, brainstorming frugal recipes, figuring out the best approaches to stretching a meal, one thing became clear: this Challenge is really about more than exploring whether it is possible to create nourishing meals on a food stamp budget. There is also the question of whether those who rely on food stamps even have the time to allocate toward meal planning and preparation. For the working poor striving to makes ends meet, especially in outrageously expensive cities like my lovely San Francisco, time is as precious a resource as money. Earnings aren’t going far enough, so people take on more work to make ends meet. There seems to be a direct path between this reality, and the fast food restaurant. I will keep this at the forefront of my mind as I prepare food for my family next week.

With 15 million children living in poverty in the United States today, we clearly have an enormous problem to contend with. I encourage all of you to take this Hunger Challenge next week, even if it is just for a day. If nothing else, take the time to have a family conversation about hunger to generate awareness among all generations about the urgency of this issue.

For more context, check out the ABC News series “Hunger and Children in America”

Slow Food USA is also doing a $5 Challenge aiming to prove that a “slow food doesn’t have to cost more than fast food.”

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