Archive for the ‘Volunteer’ Tag

Combating Hunger in America

Today I read an article that said 1 in 5 children are at risk for hunger. 14.5% of households in 2010 did not have the resources to feed everyone. (US Department of Agriculture) Two things that don’t help is the lack of knowledge of tasty, healthy and cheap meals and the lack of time to prepare them. Naturally the author outlines the volunteers who are working to combat this problem. Teaching parents how to shop and cook while getting children enthused to help. The full article is http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/23/us/cnnheroes-hungry-children/index.html?hpt=hp_c1

It is awesome that there are people – lots of culinary students – who will give up their time to teach parents and children to survive in these tough economic times. But what about the briefly mentioned population that work two jobs for 16 to 18 hours a day, who barely find time to eat themselves yet alone can prepare dinner for their kids? The single mothers and fathers whose only real options is to give the babysitter enough cash for McDonalds or three slices of pizza from down the street.

Now what about the exceptionally broke youth, fresh out of Mom and Dad’s house, who now must learn to prepare food for themselves as well. They are underemployed, on a tight budget and don’t know how to eat healthy….

Yesterday my friend who is 18 made dinner for 5 people. Homemade Kung Pow Chicken, the night before it was homemade green curry. She is only 18 and works as a kitchen manager in a local bakery. On a nightly basis she makes food with us, improvising, using what she has, and teaching who ever is in the kitchen how to prepare what ever treat she is making.

Another friend of my is superawesomefantastic at soul food. Once a week she will feed about 30 people at her house and another 10 to 20 who are hard at work at local bars. These kids (I call them kids even though they are all a decade older than me) would not be able to eat a decent meal after their shift. Most would go to bed on a stomach of liquor and tater tots.

Both of my friends are great with children which got me to thinking, what if we could set up a volunteer babysitting service for those families? The ones who don’t have the time or energy to shop for and prepare healthy meals? Teach the youth who are fresh out of their homes how to cook (and babysit) and then have them spend a couple of hours a few evenings a week helping a family at risk of hunger.

Parents of course would have to buy the ingredients or give the volunteer money to buy ingredients. But every evening, one more family could rest on the fact that their children were fed. That one parent could conserve a little energy and place it instead into play time, bed time, or work; which ever the case may be. And the kids would be learning how to cook in the process furthering the cycle. Once those children got old enough, they can also volunteer their time to help families in the same situation as themselves.

It’s a small idea, but I hope you can help it grow. A tiny twist on an existing program, but it could reach so many people. Are you a good cook and good with children? Do you have a few hours in the evening, even if its just a few times a week, to  help these families? Do you have youth of your own,maybe a teen? Could you teach your youth to do the same?

Even if this isn’t your cup of tea, if this is an idea you can stand behind, if you know someone who could do this, tell them. Seriously. Humans need to help one another, we need to feed each other. Let’s come together in these tough times and make a difference.