Let’s bring some focus to hunger.
This post is a bit of a departure from the usual. Next week, September 21-25, is Hunger Awareness Week (HAW). If you’re a regular reader of Four Amongst Three it will come as no surprise that my livelihood is directly linked to food – creating it, sharing it, and consuming it. Having this luxury is not something I take lightly, or for granted. Today, I’d like to heed HAW’s call-to-action to bring some focus to hunger, not just next week, but as a continuing theme on this website.
Many of us who are fortunate to not have faced hunger in our lives often associate supporting our local food banks with special times of the year, like Christmas and Thanksgiving. While this is a great start, hunger persists for many Canadians 365 days of the year. In fact, nearly a million people in Canada turn to food banks each month, and last year nearly 90,000 did so for the first time. Curious about who uses food banks? There is no one sub-set of our population. Food banks are frequented by families (children account for 34% of those who rely on food banks in Canada), seniors, people with disabilities, those on social assistance; and even people who are steadily employed, but simply do not make enough money to provide themselves and/or their families with sufficient, nutritious food. They are people in your community, your colleagues at work, maybe your neighbours, maybe even you.
Hunger is not an issue that is declining, and yet it is preventable. Let’s give it some focus, no matter what time of the year it is.
MY COMMITMENT for Four Amongst Three
When I began this website Brett and I were both working full-time, me in a job that required extensive travel, and Brett running his photography business on the side. We didn’t have a lot of time to dedicate to the site and decided to ease into it by starting with archiving our cooking adventures and sharing them with friends, family, and anyone else who stumbled upon the site.
Nine months have now gone by and, while we both still work full-time, I am now in a position that will (hopefully) afford me more time to dedicate to the site. With this, it is my goal to begin to integrate content on issues about which I am passionate. Hunger, and food security in general, being the backbone to this content.
While I will continue to share our cooking adventures, I’d like to begin more consistently incorporating information around issues of food security – local and global issues, as well as those affecting both current and future food security. These ideas are something that are already deeply rooted in my cooking inspiration although they have, until now, only been subtly integrated into recipes. If you look back through the posts you might notice that many of the recipes are inspired by using up what is in our fridge, a result of my serious aversion to wasting food. Other posts will bring a more targeted awareness to particular issues or ideas for improved food security. Lastly, look for the Food Philosophy to be updated in the near future – something that has taken me a while to put on paper (or screen).
HOW YOU CAN HELP
If you have sufficient access to safe, nutritious food there are many ways in which you can support those less fortunate. Contact your local food bank to find out how you can get started in your own community. In the meantime, here are some ideas to get you started:
Donate non-perishable food items
This one is probably familiar to you. Remember to donate healthy items. Great options include canned vegetables, jars of healthy sauce, packaged whole grains, and items high in protein like natural peanut butter, canned fish, and canned or dried legumes – to name a few.
Share your garden bounty
Did you know that food banks accept (and desperately need!) fresh produce in addition to non-perishables? If you have a vegetable garden chances are you end up with one or two bumper crops each year which give you more produce than you could possibly consume yourself. If you find yourself giving away fresh fruit and veg to friends and family, why not share some with your local food bank or soup kitchen too?
Donate your time
Donating your time to your local food bank can be done in a variety of ways. Many food banks have pick-up locations for their patrons at various points in the city (especially larger municipalities) and they often need help with transportation and distribution. Alternatively, help out at a local fundraiser, or if you’re a good cook maybe you’d like to get involved in your local community kitchen program. Contact your local food bank for more information.
Host a party
Having people over for dinner? Rather than asking them to bring a dish to share, or bottle of wine, ask them to contribute some healthy non-perishables or provide a cash donation to be made to your local food bank or shelter. Your guests just need to show up. You can collect their donations and drop them off at your local food bank.
Skip the wedding favours
Let’s be honest, how many weddings have you been to where, if you even remember to take your wedding favour with you, you actually use it? If you or someone you know is getting married, suggest that they skip the wedding favours and, instead, make a donation in the name of their guests to the local food bank. The Vancouver Food Bank will provide place setting cards that detail this donation to guests, and food banks in other communities will likely provide these cards as well.
Last, but certainly not least, by simply making yourself aware of hunger issues you’ve taken the first step to being a great advocate for helping to eradicate it. You don’t have to get on a soap box (unless that’s your thing), but you can share what you know and learn with those around you. Do so in conversation, or lead by example through your actions (such as, with any of the preceding calls-to-action). For those that are computer savvy, you can also share articles, ideas (even this blog) through your social media channels – don’t forget to use #hungerweek, or, if you’ve got the upcoming federal election on your mind, make hunger an election issue, #EatThinkVote!
It is my commitment through this site, as well as through my day-to-day actions and decisions, to do my best to bring a focus to hunger. If you’ve read to the end of this post, thank you, you have already helped to bring a focus to hunger.
Data referenced in this post sourced from the Food Banks of Canada