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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 don't.

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 choosebetween 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 pantryin 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.]

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Happy 2009! What a optimistic way to start off 2009!

It would be a wonderful thing to end. It seems ridiculous it even exists! Attention like this will help.

Happy New Year to you Lydia!

Beautifully said! Are you a member of the BloggerAid initiative? You should join and post this on their website.

Happy new year!

Happy 2009!
I do hope that it's a better year for all of us... And the thought that there are children going without food anywhere is appalling; that it happens in the US, doubly so!

What a great post Lydia; well worth running again. As we say Happy New Year we all need to think about how blessed we are, and what we can do to help others who are not so fortunate. I know you've been donating to Share our Strength, as well as Menu for Hope, so you've certainly been doing your part.

What a perfect post for the dawn of a new year, Lydia! You are a very wise and insightful soul. With all of the resources available to us, there is no reason that any child should go hungry. Yet, I see it every day, even among some of my daughter's friends. I'm familiar with both of the excellent organizations you mentioned, and plan to continue to support them.

A very Happy New Year to you!

happy new year!

Thanks from this challenge, Lydia. As a mother of small children, it hits home for me.

Happy New Year to you!

Happy New Year, Lydia - Share our Strength is an excellent organization and your eloquent post is an important reminder to all of us.

I would love this poverty to end. Nice post.

Happy New Year!

Everyone: let's work on this recipe during the coming year. I'm feeling so hopeful....

Happy New Year. Hope you have a happy and healthy 2009.

Lydia, as you know, this is an issue close to my heart -- I'm all for pitching in to help make this recipe a delicious dish by the end of 2009! Thanks for the post and happy New Year to you!

Hi Lydia,
just dropping by quickly this morning to wish you a belated Merry Xmas (well, we do get 12 days, don't we?) and Happy New Year. I hope that you had a fab start to 2009.

x nora

I so often lose focus on this issue. I shop where I want, cook what I want, and even have clients who pay me to do so. I forget that there are so many people who don't have anything close to this luxury. As a mother of two young boys, it is particularly horrifying to think of a child going hungry. Thanks for the reminder and advice on how to help.

Thank you all for joining in the commitment to this issue, and for your new year good wishes. I wish you happiness and joy, many times over.

Glad you reposted this. Thanks!

Happy New Year!


A perfect post to kick off 2009. We routinely donate goods to our local food pantry. It's very easy: just add extra non-perishables to your shopping cart every time you buy groceries. Most people give during the holidays, but don't realize that shelves go bare in the summer.

Best wishes for a healthy, hopeful and happy new year, Lydia.

Lydia, your message is so timely, thanks for posting. If anyone does not believe that there are people starving in America I can bear witness to the truth that there really are people that go to bed cold and hungry.

Almost a year ago I decided that I needed to make a real commitment to some charity, since food is at the core of everything that I do it only stands to reason that I would choose to throw in with a food organization. The one I volunteer at is the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition, in California. What they do is gather left over food from restaurants, grocery stores and individual donations. A meal is then created along with a soup; then is delivered to a location where it is served to the homeless and I have become the Friday cook.

When I started this early last year the average amount of people that we fed was anywhere between 70 – 90 depending on the time of month. Usually the people in the line were the mentally challenged with a few of the working poor. However as 2008 progressed and the economy tanked my line has gotten longer and the demographics’ began to change. We now are seeing about a 30% increase and are feeding between 90 – 150, most now being the working poor, who have the grim choice either eating or paying some bill or another. Often we are serving these people the only food they will have had all day and can be seen shaking from hunger as they are eating.

This is America and some things just should not be

Susan, thanks for the great idea, and for setting an example of how we can all help address this issue.

Kim, thank you for adding your strong voice to this post, and for being such an active participant in the fight against hunger. I honestly believe many people do not know the extent of the problem in this country. We must continue to spread the word and do everything we can to make sure no child (or adult) goes hungry.

Thanks for posting this!

I loved this post and linked to it from my blog last night. My next step is to volunteer and support my local food pantry - thanks for such a meaningful post.

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