Sunday, February 7, 2010

Feeding the World - One Bowl at a Time

Most of the poverty and misery in the world is due to bad government, lack of democracy, weak states, internal strife, and so on. ~Billionaire philanthropist George Soros

Well, we’ve gone from 9 degrees last Saturday to a balmy 21 degrees today, but only if the sun comes out. And only if you’re somewhere inside, snug and warm and well-fed. Otherwise, it’s bitter cold and gray and dismal.
There was an article in the paper this week….I don’t get the paper, but I read the headlines as I’m going in and out of the post office or grocery store. Hunger “Alarming” it says. I make a mental note to borrow a copy from someone later.
As luck would have it, my son comes home with that very same paper. A teacher offered his extras that day, and for some reason, my son was motivated to take one. This sort of thing happens to me all the time. Ask and you shall receive. I decide I need something and somehow it shows up in my life. Like the day I bought my soup stock pot.
My soup project is going twice as well as hoped. From just that one post, I had two donations for ingredients, thank you Gail and Ellie, which is enough to make three more soups. During a chance conversation with another woman, who as it happens also cooks for the homeless, I came home with a huge ham bone with lots of meat still on it, and 5 pounds of potatoes. Another friend, who loves to use coupons, says she can get me name brand vegetables for 30 cents a package, and rice and beans for next to nothing.
So today I’m making soup again. My third batch in just over 30 days. First I made this spicy Italian vegetable, with leftover broth from a pot roast. The second time I was in the mood for split pea and ham with lentils. So were a lot of people, because the first store I went to was completely out of split peas.
That one turned out awesome, if I may say so myself. I had two bowls, and made a spare pot for my lunches during the week. Today, Superbowl Sunday, it’s ham and potato. I boiled the ham for stock yesterday, took the bone out and cut off the meat, and set the broth in the garage to cool. Today I’ll scoop off the fat and add the potatoes and make soup. Since the ham and potatoes were donated, all it will cost me is some time and a gallon of milk.
An unprecedented number of people in the Erie area need emergency food. According to the article in the paper, “There has been a 40 percent increase in the number of people seeking emergency food assistance compared to four years ago, with nearly 22,000 of those being children.”
Children. Children are going hungry in this country.
There’s no excuse for it.
Nearly 70 percent of the people served by our local food pantry, Second Harvest, live below the federal poverty line, and nearly one third of the clients served by the agency have been unemployed for two years or less. Nearly one in four residents in Erie lives below the poverty level.
According to the study, 34 percent of people served by Second Harvest reported frequently having to choose between paying for food and paying for utilities. Eleven percent said they were homeless, a population that has more than doubled in Erie in the past 18 months.
In December, Second Harvest locally distributed nearly 758,000 pounds of emergency food, the largest one-month total since the agency’s inception in 1982.
The article goes on to state that more than 37 million people in the United States, including 14 million children, received emergency food in 2009 through the network of agencies served by Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger relief organization. That’s a 46 percent surge compared to Feeding America’s previous food study in 2006.
And according to their study, the rise in the region’s needy is likely to continue this year and beyond.
Meanwhile, according to the same paper, the auto show rolls into town and casino table games are coming to Pennsylvania.
Just what we need to put food on the table.

1 comment:

Sheryl said...

Seems to me it will take food from some unfortunate families tables.