food insecurity

Hungry teens are taking alarming measures to eat

According to a new report from Washington, D.C.-based think-tank the Urban Institute and nonprofit Feeding America, teens from food-insecure families are risking everything to eat. In every community where the study’s focus groups met, teens described going “outside of the legal economy” in order to get the food they need:

  • Shoplifting food
  • Stealing items to resell for a profit
  • Purposefully failing school to maintain access to free food programs
  • many teens skip meals so they’re able to provide for their younger siblings.
  • And in 13 out of 20 of the study’s focus groups, teen participants mentioned trading sex for money or meals.

And no they can’t “just get jobs” — they’re caught in the same employment paradox as many young people.

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Philly’s “pay what you can” restaurant offers new solution to food insecurity

  • 22% of all Philadelphians are food insecure. 
  • Enter EAT (Everyone At the Table) Café, a nonprofit, pay-what-you-wish cafe that opened in West Philadelphia in late October.
  • On the menu: three courses, including soup or salad, a hearty entree with a side and dessert, as well as a hot or cold beverage. 
  • Guests can pay the suggested price of the check, less, more (as a donation) or nothing at all. Read more
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Layer gifs of best Hannibal art

Happy holidays, everyone! Thanks for sticking around. I joined the fandom just this May and I’ve felt so welcome. Onward to a bloody new year! 

How to give back on Thanksgiving:

With 13% of American households experiencing food insecurity — that’s 29.1 million adults and 13.1 million children with lack of access to nutritious food — we can’t forget that the Thanksgiving season can be tough for those who struggle regularly to put food on the table. For those in a position to share the Thanksgiving spread, plenty of organizations are eager for your donations.

Find your local food bank - Perhaps the easiest way to donate food for a family’s Thanksgiving feast is to locate your local food bank and contribute nonperishables, or whatever they’re specifically in need of. Start a school or office can drive or have friends and family bring a nonperishable food item to your next gathering in order to collect food to donate.

Sponsor a family meal -Help a family in need create a Thanksgiving meal by working with the nonprofit Family to Family. There are options for all levels of food donations, from donating money online to creating a local group to shop or give grocery gift cards to a neighborhood family.

Donate milk - While cartons of milk are difficult to donate in-person, The Great American Milk Drive allows you to donate as little as $5 to provide milk to a child in need. The donation works by providing vouchers to families so that they can get fresh milk at grocery stores.

Donate a Blue Apron meal - Join Blue Apron’s Fourth Annual Thanksgiving Dinner Drive to help donate 125,000 meals to families in need this Thanksgiving. A Thanksgiving meal box costs $60 and feeds six.

Start a virtual food drive - The Food Bank for New York City offers a digital food drive in which every dollar donated provides five meals to New Yorkers in need. Individuals and groups can create their own campaigns and share with your social networks or holiday guests in order to raise funds.

Make food purchases that give back - During the holiday season, many big food brands and supermarkets partner with charities to provide holiday meals. Look for special promotions at your local store or brands like French’s, General Mills and Kellogg which have all pledged to donate a small percentage of proceeds to help feed hungry Americans.

Read more / sources

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NDP MP, Charlie Angus on Nutrition North and Treaty 9 Issues

NDP MP Charlie Angus on Nutrition North and Treaty 9 Issues

I also had the sense to set up a grocery delivery for today. Only makes sense, to get the stuff we need here without either of us having to lug it home on the bus. Especially with bulkier/heavier items like cat litter too. I used to get a larger delivery at least a few times a month. Another benefit to living in such a built-up area, with good availability.

But, we had that problem with the stuck front door that made deliveries awkward for a while, and then I basically stubborned myself into not starting up again with the fairly regular grocery orders. Until a few weeks ago, when I finally said fuck it, and put in a big Tesco order. After I hadn’t gotten out to a larger, better stocked store for way too long.

Yeah, that was a good decision. Better late than never, and all that.

Hannibal Lecter and food insecurity

Have you noticed that NBC’s Hannibal Lecter cooks everything in huge excess? Like, he’s literally hosting just Will and Alana for dinner, and he rolls out an entire roast pig with all the trimmings? Or it’s just him and Jack, but there’s like 10,000 calories in pricey perishables on the table?

Clearly, someone overshopped.

I don’t know if this is an intended character trait or a stylistic choice, but it hits on something that almost every emigrant to the West from USSR (and I’m sure tons of other countries around the world) can readily relate to: bone-deep food insecurity. Hannibal Lecter, who presumably made it out of USSR sometime in the late 70s-early 80s, seems to have never got over his original shock of facing a sudden over-abundance and variety of food in the West.

It sometimes takes emigrants years to un-learn instinctive food hoarding, and not everyone manages. This goes double for orphans, who tend to suffer from this compulsion even within Russia after they ‘graduate’ from the system and are able to plan their meals themselves. This behavior is especially noticeable with respect to meat, which was not sold very often in Soviet stores, and the cuts that were available were often, to put it mildly, substandard. (One popular joke went that Soviet pig farms probably slaughter their pigs with explosives, because the only things that made it to the stores were hooves.)

And let’s not forget fresh fruit. First of all, fruit was seasonal. You bought fruit in late summer and early fall, preserved it, and ate it through the winter. (In the spring everyone, especially kids, suffered from vitamin deficiencies, and this was a fact of life one just accepted.) But let’s take more exotic fruit - for instance, bananas. If bananas appeared in a Soviet grocery store, which would happen once or twice every spring in a few grocery stores of Moscow and Leningrad, each customer was limited to one or two kilos. You would literally stand in line for 3 or 4 or 5 hours to get five or ten rock-hard green bananas. And you would be over the moon with joy.

And so it’s very easy for me to imagine Lecter, even with all the privations of life in a state-run Soviet institution (a double-whammy of poor nutrition) decades behind him, *still* instinctively over-shopping for things that he never got to so much as sniff as a child: meat, fresh fruit, seafood, caviar - all the stuff he heaps on the table in such huge quantities for his friends.

Lecter might wear bespoke suits and drive a Bentley that costs more than most houses, but deep down in his bones, he’s still in 'food crisis’ mode, terrified that all these pomegranates, caviar, and steak are only in the store through some kind of unexpected laxness or largesse on behalf of the ruling Party, and if he doesn’t buy as much as he can today, they’ll be gone from the store tomorrow, and he’ll be left with nothing.

The Zodiac Signs in a Relationship

Always blushing: Aries, Pisces, Virgo

Pet names <3<3<3: Capricorn,  Libra, Gemini

Buys you food: Aquarius, Scorpio, Sagittarius

Reveals hidden thoughts/insecurities: Taurus, Leo

True story: a teacher, “Ms. Jones,” in one of these states that wasn’t red in 2000 but was in 2014 (and is now) asked one of her students, “Chris,” to stay after school for some remedial help.

She lost track of the time and suddenly realized how late it had gotten.

“My goodness, Chris,” she said. “I’ve kept you way too long–you’ll be late for supper!”

“That’s all right, Ms. Jones,” Chris said. “It’s not my turn to have supper tonight.”

True story. I know Ms. Jones.

To begin to make sense of the real roots of hunger, we have to dig deeper. While the proximate cause of hunger is that a person lacks food, we must ask - why? There is absolutely no lack of food; the world produces more than enough food for all to thrive, even after subtracting the third of world grain fed to livestock, which return in meat only a fraction of the nutrients fed to them (UN FAO 2002). Even where millions go hungry - from Brazil to India to Africa - food is exported. Hunger is a symptom of a deeper lack - it is a lack of power.

Taken to its Latin root ‘posse’, power means simply our capacity to act. It is a dynamic quality in all human relationships. Since all life seems to sustain itself, life-destroying hunger is proof that people have been denied power, denied the capacity to protect themselves and their offspring. In other words, since the world’s supply of food is more than adequate, and no one chooses to go hungry, the very existence of hunger is a sign of power imbalances so extreme that some people have been made powerless even to meet their survival needs.

While most attention to hunger focuses on ‘things’, to end hunger we must refocus on relationships among people for it is these relationships that determine people’s capacities, their power to create and to access those things humans need to thrive.

—  Lappé, F M (2008). World Hunger: Its Roots and Remedies.
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We live in one of the richest countries in the world, yet at least 42 million Americans lack adequate access to affordable, nutritious food. In 2015, 1 in 8 Americans were living in food insecure households. Taking solitary action against what seems like an insurmountable problem may feel futile. But there are a number of meaningful ways you can make a real difference — including buying food wisely.

In collaboration with Subway

Class-based food habits do not necessarily lead to problematic nutritional intake among the working class; the available evidence suggests that the nutritional intakes of the working class differ little from the upper classes. Nevertheless, this does not mean they do not experience deprivation due to a lack of highly valued foods, the preferred amount of food, or consistent amounts of food.

A study from the UK of low-income families found food budgets were often elastic, so that when money was scarce (due to unexpected bills), the quality and quantity of food was often sacrificed (Dobson et al. 1994). In such situations, food shopping was done more frequently to avoid a build up of food supplies that may be consumed too quickly and cause a food shortage later in the week. A common lack of experimentation represented fear of food wastage. Food poverty was generally well hidden by families, by avoiding guests for dinner or saving specifically for such events; and in the case of children being visited by their friends, only once their mother had saved up to buy brand-name snacks. In one instance, a mother filled an empty Coca-Cola bottle with low-cost cola to serve her son’s friends, to ‘save face’ and effectively hide their food poverty.

—  Germov, J (2008). Food, Class and Identity.

Such an incredible documentary about the food insecurity crisis here in the United States. If you haven’t seen this, please watch it. It’s on Netflix. I’ve seen hunger. I’ve had children at my old Boys and Girls Club job come in with bags of chips for lunch and always hungry. It’s everywhere and it’s devastating that there are 50 million people suffering. Donating a can of food to a soup kitchen doesn’t solve the issue - it may make you feel better,  but people need actual permanent change. Our government is so backwards. They’re letting the future leaders of this country go malnourished.

Wishing I Could Do More

So I work at a popular fast food chain. Today while I was ringing up orders for the drive through and taking money, a woman comes through (ordering fries and a mocha) and hands me her credit card saying, “I hope this goes through, I just paid it off” So I nod sympathetically while I’m swiping it because food insecurity sucks. Turns out she hadn’t paid it off early enough or something because it doesn’t go through, and she starts tearing up as she starts looking for another card. I had a line of cars behind her, but she looked like she was having a seriously bad day, so when she can’t find another card I just tell her “no problem, don’t worry about it” I know at this point that I’ll probably get in trouble for giving away over $5 so I tell her that I can’t do the mocha, but I can give her a $1 coffee and her fries and it’s no problem. She’s just about crying at this point, and going on about how she just got back from the doctor (probably bad news, I’m thinking) and has had a really bad day and naturally I believe her because she literally looked like she was going to start sobbing. So I waved her forward and rang her in for cash instead of using a promo code because I didn’t want to get caught passing food by the district manager (who was in the store at the time). At the end of my shift I asked to borrow a dollar from my co-worker J so my drawer wouldn’t be short (I usually leave my wallet at home since I live close by), and J said that since she had already made the mocha, J had just given it to the woman anyway because she really was crying by the time she pulled up to the second window. At the end of this, I just felt so thankful that I’m not the only employee who cares about our customers because I was really worried about that woman. It’s nice being able to bring a smile to people’s faces or go out of my way to make them feel cared about, but I can only do so much from behind a drive-through window. In this case, I hope it was enough.