Saturday, October 16, 2010

Meatless Monday (maybe) and Tuesday and Wednesday…

Many who go without meat on Monday have made a conscious decision to do so — perhaps to improve their health or because they are concerned about climate change. Some are vegetarians or vegans and go without meat every day for ethical reasons. Whatever the motivation, it is a privilege when one can make the choice.

For too many others, actively choosing to “go meatless” is not a possibility. In order to feed their family, or to relieve their hunger, they will eat what is served at the soup kitchen or what comes in the donated bag of groceries, whether it is meat or vegetable, syrupy or salty, funny colored or natural, or tastes like it comes from a can. They will do this on Monday, on Tuesday, on Wednesday, and on all the other days. Some days they may not eat at all. As we observe Meatless Monday, let’s think for a moment about those who can’t choose to join us.

The recession is over according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. And I heard from a niece who works for a company which sells shipping supplies that new orders are on the rise. But even if the recession IS over, recovery will take a long while. The statistics for those living in poverty are way up. The August jobless rate in my state was 9.1%, and that figure does not include those who have given up looking for work. 

Connecticut Food Bank (CFB), an organization I know very well, just sent me a solicitation reading: “The severe effects of the economic crisis and high unemployment are still being felt. Many families with children are going hungry, and are desperately seeking emergency food assistance—some for the first time in their lives. Proud seniors in our communities are barely surviving on fixed incomes. They are unable to afford both their medicine and meals… Connecticut Food Bank distributes more than 16 million pounds of food a year to 650 food-assistance programs. These agencies are much-needed lifelines—providing groceries and hot meals to 300,000 hungry men, women and children. A successful Thanksgiving Appeal will go a long way toward fighting the problem of hunger here in Connecticut.” 

CFB is one of 200 food banks which are members of Feeding America, the nation’s largest food bank network. In its August newsletter, CFB references a study released in July by Feeding America that reports 15.9% of Connecticut children under the age of 18 are hungry or at risk of hunger. More than 100,000 children in the state with the highest per capita income!

In less developed nations, scores of people are in dire straits daily, particularly when natural disasters strike. Oxfam is often a first responder to emergencies as the recent floods in Pakistan and the earthquakes in Haiti. There are many other groups working on hunger relief. I merely reference three I happen to know and trust.

Times may be tough. But if you are reading this post on a computer or a mobile device, chances are that you are able to take some action, even if it is a small one, to help alleviate hunger. In this season of harvest and plenty, let’s remember those less fortunate, in our country and around the world.

I often blog on food or food issues on Monday in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”

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