I still haven’t finished calculating the costs of yesterdays meal. I probably should be doing that now but I’ve decided to get something off my chest so I can stop thinking about it.
This morning I was on the phone with my sister explaining to her Hunger Action week and decided to take the opportunity to ask her what she remembers as a child about being hungry. You see I grew up in a family of 6 kids. Both parents worked and for a several years we often ate food bank food. Even though our family qualified for food stamps, my dad was too prideful to accept them because back then they looked similar to cash. By using them, everyone in line recognized immediately that you were a food stamp recipient. My parents used food stamps probably a half dozen times before his pride got the best of him. As far as the food we received from the food bank, my grandmother would go for my parents because they both worked. My dad never had to experience going to the food bank for himself. Looking back I am so thankful for the local food bank and my granny.
So my sister and I are talking and it’s a trip down memory lane. She remembered so many things that I hadn’t thought about in 20 years. I asked her what she remembered eating. She said lots of spaghetti, lots of rice, family sized chicken noodle soup, and curry. This would probably explain why I don’t like spaghetti, I always make home made chicken noodle soup (and only when someone is sick), and why I’m not a big fan of Korean curry. Talking to her conjured memories I had forgotten. For instance I remember grabbing a can of peaches in the pantry (this would be consider a major score for us kids back then), taking it to my bedroom with a fork and a can opener, eating it as quick as I could, and then disgarding the evidence in the dumpster outside. This is so I wouldn’t have to share with the others. I wasn’t the only one in our family who did this. And if someone ever got caught, all hell would break out because the others didn’t get any.
I’m sure this is a reality for families who face hunger each day. Its so easy to make assumptions about the diets of those on food stamps or limited budgets. All I know is that being hungry is no fun. Getting upset over a can of peaches can turn your siblings into your enemies in a minute. Sometimes just getting any type of food on the table is the best a person can do.
I’m just so thankful and proud of my parents. They did the best that they could do. All 6 of their children would be considered successful in society’s standards today and each of our families are well fed, clothed, and sheltered.
This is only day 4 of the challenge and I am feeling convicted that I should do more to help those in need. Sharing with the world I can feed a family of 5 pretty well on a food stamp budget doesn’t really help the family of 5 struggling with poverty and hunger on a daily basis. Their reality used to be mine, but not anymore.
If there is anything that I can offer from this blog during Hunger Action Week is perhaps a glimmer of hope from the memories of my childhood and how our family lives today. Stewarding time and resources to the best of my ability and showing others how to provide balanced meals my mom only wished she could but couldn’t. Having compassion for those who struggle around me and responding with action. And finally never allow myself to forget the memories of my childhood – I’m the cook I am today because of it.
Side Conversation Update:
This evening I spoke with another sister, my youngest sister in fact. I told her about my conversation with my other sister this morning and shared with her how I posted on the blog the story of the canned peaches. Her response was. “WHAT!?! YOU DID THAT??? I NEVER GOT ANY PEACHES!!! THIS EXPLAINS WHY I ONLY EVER GOT CANNED GREEN BEANS! THATS’ MESSED UP!” I laughed so hard. Obviously our family still has some healing to do.