Archive | November, 2010

Hunger in a Season of Plenty

22 Nov

“It’s dinner time in America. But for 1 in 4 children, you’d never know it.”

The ad with the simple image of an empty plate is meant to catch your eye — especially if you come across it in the November issue of a favorite magazine, tucked among the tips for a traditional Thanksgiving feast. It’s part of a campaign by Share Our Strength, a national non-profit organization that fights childhood hunger. As they say below the picture: “Dinner time is when families gather to share their day and create memories. But for nearly 17 million children, dinner time can be the cruelest part of the day. Right here in the United States, almost 1 in 4 children don’t know when they will have their next meal.”

Thanksgiving is a season to celebrate plenty, and a day when many families sit down to tables overflowing with favorite foods to give thanks for all they have been blessed with. For many people, Thanksgiving dinner is the largest meal of the year — and by the time they’ve finished that last piece of pie, their stomachs are so full they’ll be physically uncomfortable. But the canned food drives and other pleas for donations this month are a quiet reminder that for too many families, Thanksgiving will be like any other meal: not a time of plenty but a time of want.

Share Our Strength notes that 50.1 million Americans aren’t able to regularly put enough nutritious food on the table, and that food insecurity, which includes “running out of food without money to buy more, cutting portion sizes or skipping meals, and not feeding children in the family because there isn’t money for food,” exists in almost 15 percent of all U.S. households. Almost 70 percent of food insecure families live above the poverty line. These numbers aren’t just statistics. They reflect the reality many of us are already seeing in our own homes, neighborhoods or communities right now, as families who were blessed enough to be able to contribute to those canned food drives during past Thanksgivings are today joining the lines of those in need.

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A Participant's Story, Cooking Matters for Adults

2 Nov

Maria is a 30 year old Hispanic woman with two children under the age of five. She learned about the Cooking Matters for Adults classes through the Juan Diego Center in Omaha.  “The classes are excellent,” she said. “They are helping me a lot.”  Maria stated that the classes are easy to understand and interesting because the lessons are taught in different ways. She also likes taking the nutrition materials from class to review at home, and she now feels more capable to read the food labels. 

Before the classes, Maria never planned meals ahead of time. After taking the Cooking Matters course she plans head all the time, thinks more about healthy food selections, and reads food labels while grocery shopping. Because she feels more confident in understanding the food label, it has helped her make better selections and spend more time shopping at the perimeter of the store.  “I also save more money,” Maria said. “And I choose healthier food and secure to eat.”