Hungry by choice


I’ve finished my first full day of fasting. I had a few episodes today where everything felt just a bit…off. I also had a few episodes where I felt an amazing zen-like clarity. I want more of those. Aside from that nothing earth shatteringly different. I’m still me. (I realize some of you might be disappointed to read that).

I didn’t even feel terribly hungry. Most surprising was my workout, which was completely unaffected by my lack of food; in fact, I felt really energized. Go figure. I can see why people fast for health. So far I’m only feeling the benefits of the deprivation. If my fast continues like this, I may take it up periodically.

However, I’m choosing to go hungry. I know that at any time I could reach into the fridge and break my fast with a fresh mango or reach into the hanging basket of clementines and gorge on their citrusy goodness. Those who I am supporting don’t have that choice—their refrigerators are bare—and therein lies a crucial psychological distinction. To be insecure in one’s food supply, to have to choose between eating or staying warm, those are the “options” millions of my fellow citizens are facing on a daily basis. Here are some sobering statistics Feeding America just released in their 2010 Hunger Report:

The report shows that hunger is increasing at an alarming rate in the United States, and our network is expanding its reach in response:

  • Feeding America is annually providing food to 37 million Americans, including 14 million children. This is an increase of 46 percent over 2006, when we were feeding 25 million Americans, including 9 million children, each year.
  • That means one in eight Americans now rely on Feeding America for food and groceries.
  • Feeding America’s nationwide network of food banks is feeding 1 million more Americans each week than we did in 2006.
  • Thirty-six percent of the households we serve have at least one person working.
  • More than one-third of client households report having to choose between food and other basic necessities, such as rent, utilities and medical care.
  • The number of children the Feeding America network serves has increased by 50 percent since 2006.

In a country so richly endowed with both material and resource wealth, where companies are making record profits and we waste 40-50% of our harvests every year, it strikes me as both laughable and tragic (laughitragic?) that an organization such as Feeding America even needs to exist.

Wherefore our leaders, whence our priorities as a nation. ‘Tis a sad, hackneyed refrain.


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