Pantry dreams, 2009 (Recipe: ending childhood hunger)
Two years ago today, I published this post. I hadn't plan to run it again, but when I sat down to write a New Year's message about ending childhood hunger, I realized that this post says it all. Slightly updated, here is my wish for the new year in these hopeful times -- with thanks to all of you for bringing your enthusiasm, wisdom, comments, kindness, and sense of humor to The Perfect Pantry in 2008.
Do you see an empty pantry jar?
I see all the possibilities: spices yet to be tasted, grains I've been wanting to cook, legumes to be turned into winter soup, local specialty foods brought back from travels -- and best of all, meals I'll prepare for, and with, family and friends.
I see all of this, because I can afford it. I can afford to fill my pantry with pasta, beans, tomatoes, flour. I can afford some basics in the freezer, and a chicken to make stock, and fresh vegetables.
Odds are, if you're reading this, you can afford it, too.
In America, the families of more than 12 million children -- one of every six children -- cannot afford it. They face the reality of hunger every day. I'm not talking about, "Mom, I'm hungry. What's for dinner?" I'm talking about no dinner. No milk. No hot meals, except what's provided through school breakfast and lunch programs. No ingredients stacked in the pantry, waiting to be turned into the wonderful variety of recipes we find in cookbooks, newspapers, blogs.
Odds are, if you're reading this, you don't have to choose between buying food and paying for utilities or heating fuel this week.
Children need nutritious food to learn, grow and thrive. If they go to school hungry, they are at a disadvantage to succeed before the day even starts. There's plenty of evidence that hungry children do not concentrate as well as those who've had a good breakfast (and those of us who are a bit older know that's true for adults, too).
The Perfect Pantry and my family have a longstanding commitment to Share Our Strength, an organization that invests in the most effective local and national nonprofits working to guarantee that families at risk of hunger receive critical support.
Share Our Strength has a recipe for ending childhood hunger in America; it's not the easiest recipe, but I hope you'll try it. Reach out to a food pantry in your community; support a farmers market or CSA; attend a Taste of the Nation event; teach your kids about nutrition.
And, please share this recipe with your friends and families, along with my very best wishes to all for a happy and healthy 2009.
Ending childhood hunger in America
An inspirational and achievable goal. Recipe adapted from Share Our Strength. Serves 12 million children.
Volunteers with soul
Event participants with interest
Chefs and restaurants with heart
Corporations with a conscience
Local organizations and partners with vision
Combine a huge desire to help end childhood hunger with a dash of inspiration. Blend with volunteers, chefs, corporate partners and event participants. Generously add perseverance. Taste and adjust ingredients as necessary.
Serve with a bold, innovative and unique national hunger strategy to surround every child with nutritious food where they live, learn, and play.
Include state and local governments, organizations and nonprofits who can help families help themselves by increasing access to the public and private programs that can provide food to those who need it.
[This bold yet achievable recipe is best served with hope. With your help, we will end childhood hunger in America. To learn more, visit www.strength.org.]