Archive for the ‘Hunger’ Category

Little Things Mean A Lot II

Thursday, May 7th, 2020

I recently wrote about personal gifts from friends and family that cheered the recipients during the pandemic in the first “Little Things Mean A Lot” post. I’ve also noticed efforts of citizens who take advantage of their contacts and/or talents to create popup fundraising opportunities. Plugging in to such efforts makes it simple for the rest of us to do a little something that collectively can mean a lot in an otherwise helpless period given strictures of social distancing and increasing sparsity of disposable income. A plus: you know that your donation goes directly to those in need.

It’s not surprising that the initiatives I selected involve donations of food.

The manager of my apartment building and his wife make 100 sandwiches a week for “One Sandwich at a Time” and invited tenants to join them. He also launched a food drive. Tenants drop off shopping bags full of groceries in the lobby. [I took the photo above early the morning after his announcement]. I see a hearty number of different bags every time I go downstairs. The drive is scheduled to last until the end of the month.

Every other Saturday night from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. Julian Gordon and Tim O’Hara produce streaming fundraising concerts on Facebook–An Evening with Tim and Julian–to benefit The Sharing Place, a food pantry in Jersey City. They have raised some $2,200 in two concerts. Guests joined them on May 2; some performed songs that Julian wrote. The next concert is scheduled for May 16. Link to their Facebook page for updates.

Do you know of grassroots efforts that support food pantries or other ways people are amplifying what they can give to help those adversely impacted by the pandemic?

Julian Gordon, left, and Tim O’Hara, “An Evening with Tim and Julian.”

Service of Food: Valuable to Some, Essential to Others

Monday, December 9th, 2019

By Maurizio Cattelan Photo: news.artnet.com

According to United States Department of Agriculture, 40 million Americans face hunger, including 12.5 million children. In this regard two headlines hit me last week.

The first: “Maurizio Cattelan Is Taping Bananas to a Wall at Art Basel Miami Beach and Selling Them for $120,000 Each.”

The second: “Trump administration moves to remove 700,000 people from food stamps.”

Photo: bally.com

Sarah Cascone wrote the first article on artnet.com. She added that the gallery repping Cattelan was upping the price to $150,000 because the banana, affixed with contact tape to the wall, already had two buyers at the original asking price. She also reported that her husband and his college dorm mates had done the same thing with a banana and that he still had what was left of the shriveled fruit somewhere in their home.

I couldn’t tell from the article whether the artist would affix the banana to the buyers’ walls.

Obviously these art buyers have no trouble feeding themselves or their families which isn’t the case for people who need food stamps.

Photo: cnn.com

Tom Polansek wrote on reuters.com: “President Donald Trump has argued that many Americans receiving food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, do not need it given the strong economy and low unemployment. The program provides free food to 36 million Americans.”

Savings to the government over five years is estimated to be $5.5 billion.

Congresswoman Marcia Fudge of Ohio described the cutback as “an unacceptable escalation of the administration’s war on working families, and it comes during a time when too many are forced to stretch already-thin budgets.”

Polansek reported “The administration has sought to tighten requirements for food stamps without congressional approval after Congress blocked a Trump-backed effort to pass new restrictions through the Farm Bill last year.”

“For those impacted it will mean less nutritious meals, or meals that are skipped altogether,” said Cassie Ramos, policy associate for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group.

Good work if you can get it is my reaction to the $120,000-$150,000 banana with a dash of there’s a sucker born every day. I’m not one bit magnanimous about the food stamp cuts.  If we’re looking for ways to cut the budget why pick on the poorer members of our country who, without food, in addition to suffering, will become sick and cost more? Will taking away food stamps inspire people who need them to get a job when my bet is that many already have a few?

Photo: wgem.com

Service of So Much Cheese When Many Have Nothing to Eat

Wednesday, December 26th, 2018

Photo: myrecipes.com

I have never understood why in all these years someone hasn’t figured out how to take a surplus of cheese in this country to feed the hungry here and all over the world. Wouldn’t this be better than to toss the cheese once it is no longer edible?

According to Heather Haddon in The Wall Street Journal, “About 1.4 billion pounds of American, cheddar and other kinds of cheese is socked away at cold-storage warehouses across the country, the biggest stockpile since federal record-keeping began a century ago.”

Her headline covers it: “America Can’t Move Its Cheese–U.S. stockpiles of American, cheddar and other varieties continue to set new records as trade slows and tastes change.”

We still like and buy plenty of cheese. Haddon reported that last year we each ate about 37 pounds of it. “I don’t eat any cheese,” say you. That means someone else eats even more than 37 pounds! Wow.

Photo: italianfoodforever.com

As her headline indicates, trade tensions—retaliatory tariffs—have “tamped down demand” especially from Mexico and China. At the same time Americans favor more sophisticated varieties accounting for an additional reason for the glut. “Per capita consumption of mozzarella has topped cheddar since 2010. Consumption of processed cheese spreads per capita is about half what it was in 2006.” Robust pizza sales account for mozzarella’s taking the top spot.

Nevertheless, if you’re hungry, a piece of tasteless orange cheese can be welcome and lifesaving.

Photo: alltech.com

Cheese makers aren’t alone to suffer. “Milk prices are down around 40% from a 2014 peak that encouraged many farmers to expand their herds. Now dairies are going out of business as prices crash. More than 600 dairy farms have closed this year in Wisconsin alone.”

Do you eat cheese? What is your favorite? Can you figure out how the cheese surplus here might be put to good use before it spoils, especially to feed the hungry? Have you noticed that milk prices have decreased at the grocery store?

Photo: about-france.com

Service of the Counterintuitive Part I

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Photo: lifehack.org

Photo: lifehack.org

I’ve collected examples of situations that caused me to wonder. I found so many that I broke the list into two posts.

Starving the Victims

basket of rollsA friend told me about a 20-course dinner that cost $350 pp. The only reason that she and the other participants didn’t leave hungry was because they asked for baskets of additional rolls that had accompanied one of the microscopic, uber-trendy dishes. She described the portions as the size of bottle caps. This was in the US. Another friend who eats like a sparrow left a similar restaurant in London feeling hungry after finishing a pricey appetizer and entree.

Where’s the Sport?

Ask Google to “define game” and the first you see is: “a form of play or sport, especially a competitive one played according to rules and decided by skill, strength, or luck.”

So what’s with this horrendous knockout game that Wikipedia notes is “one of many names given by American news media to assaults in which, purportedly, one or more assailants attempt to knock out an unsuspecting victim, often with a single sucker punch, all for the amusement of the attacker(s) and their accomplice(s).”

Police think that a recent victim of this game was a pregnant woman–in her seventh month–who was knocked unconscious and to the ground after her assailant hit her in the head, according to coverage in The Daily News. Doctors say both she and the baby are OK.

Conflicting Reports

empty storefrontI read everywhere how the economy has improved, the stock market is flourishing, salaries and employment are up and yet I continue to see newly empty storefronts and increasing numbers of beggars in a city that we’re told is doing better than other places. In addition, I read reports by companies that cater to the middle class, such as Macy’s, that are lowering their outlook for the year’s sales. For what reason? Because of the “sluggish demand plaguing the broader retail industry,” according to Suzanne Kapner and Shelly Banjo in The Wall Street Journal.

I don’t like feeling stuffed when I leave a restaurant, but what about the trend to pay a fortune to leave hungry? What horrible mind came up with the knockout game where the sport is picking on a defenseless person and what about the people who play? So what’s true about the economy—is it as great as some say or not?

up and down indicator

Service of Hunger

Monday, June 10th, 2013

pie eating contest

Joey Chestnut ate 68 hotdogs at Nathan’s July 4th 2012 contest and over the June 1 weekend this year, he scarfed down 25 half pastrami sandwiches, both in 10 minutes. The latter contest was to celebrate the Katz’s Deli 125th anniversary at the World Pastrami Eating Championship. Chestnut won both competitions.

In films about life in small-town America we’ve seen countless pie eating contests at charming country fairs. Paul Newman’s character, Luke Jackson, memorably ate 50 eggs on a dare in “Cool Hand Luke.”

land of plentyWe’ve always thought we were the land of plenty and these contests seemed like harmless fun. Yet according to nokidhungry.org, 16 million children in this country “don’t get the food they need.”

I read about Patty Stonesifer in Maureen Dowd’s opinion piece, “She’s Getting Her Boots Dirty,” June 2 in The New York Times. Dowd wrote about the executive whose new job is directing Martha’s Table, an organization in Washington DC that provides those in need with food, among other things.

Children eating“After serving as the highest-ranking woman at Microsoft, Stonesifer helped Bill and Melinda Gates start their philanthropy in an office above a Seattle-area pizza parlor in 1997,” wrote Dowd. Stonesifer, who works for free now as she did for the largest charity in the world, explains that Bill Gates taught her to think big. “So here, instead of simply figuring out how to move from providing 60,000 meals a month to 66,000, I want to think about how to end child hunger in D.C,” Dowd quoted her as saying.

About this philanthropist Dowd reported: “Her 89-year-old mother started a Bread for the World chapter in her retirement community in Indianapolis and, until just recently, continued to do volunteer work for St. Vincent de Paul, a Catholic charity.”

She meets her clients and observes, as Dowd reports: “ ‘These folks are just waiting for a bag of food,’ Stonesifer marvels as she looks over the mound of bags filled with vegetables and fruit, cereal and soup. ‘They come early because they believe there won’t be enough. It looks like the Depression, this long line. And they’re not sitting on their butts, waiting for a handout. They’re scrambling to meet their basic needs.’”

I don’t believe that Katz’s or Nathans mean any harm or hurt by conducting these traditional American events because if I did, I wouldn’t identify them. Before its contest, Katz’s, that sells 20 thousand pounds of meat a week according to CBS NY, gave a fundraiser/Shabbat dinner to benefit the Henry Street Settlement, a charity in its neighborhood.

However, I question the validity and symbolism of food contests these days with so many millions of starving people here. The marketing/PR minds I know, if charged with the task, could design any number of other wonderful ways to celebrate and create new traditions for food businesses like these as well as for country fairs, at least until hunger is a memory and ours is, once again, a land of plenty. What do you think?

 Corn field

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