A Hunger Challenge in a Month of Harvest


I have to admit the idea of going hungry is not one that has ever struck me as a way to make a point as in Kafka’s “The Hunger Artist” or retaliate against a system like Gandhi did as part of a hunger strike. In a quiet mouse-sized voice, I share with you a truth.

I hate being hungry.

That rumble in the stomach does not make me exult in the glories of my body working as it ought. Instead, it feels like a nagging memory, of want that needs to be filled. My mom has always been good at making the most of what we have and she would know. She came to the U.S. poor and living on welfare in a small town in south Texas. When she talked about her mom Tita stretching the dollar to feed a family of five mouths, she meant it. I began cooking at a young age and found value in time spent to prepare what would nourish. While times might have been tough occasionally, I never went hungry.

In New Orleans several weeks ago and through a conversation with a blogger named Tammy, my pulse quickened hearing of the lack of access to fresh foods for people in the 9th ward and the distance she had traveled once cross-town to get to a grocery store that is part of my regular routine. Two aisles of food in the convenience store versus my plethora of options in the Bay Area…

It got me thinking.

I’m a bit of a sucker for challenges. Last year I gave up gluten for 40 days to try and understand the difficulties our gluten free customers might have eating out or grocery shopping. I can tell you at the end of those 40 days, it made me more of an advocate for them. Upon hearing the statistics and terms of the San Francisco / Bay Area Hunger Challenge, I signed up. Their website states that 1 in 5 children, seniors and adults in the Bay Area struggle with hunger on a regular basis. Those statistics surprised me and left me wanting to understand their plight just a bit better, to try and step into their shoes so-to speak for a week.

The challenge: live on $4.72 per day per person for a week.

Of course, as if that didn’t sound difficult enough, I got all Annelies on it and ratcheted it up a notch. Do it gluten free and as healthfully as possible with veggies, grains, proteins and dairy – organic when possible. I kind of need to prove to myself that it can be done in a month that celebrates organic harvest.

So I’ve been writing our menu, jotting down a grocery list, making slashes to said grocery list and thinking of ways to make this hunger challenge delicious but also taking its message to heart: love your neighbor as you love yourself.

That’s a message rumbling from my stomach to yours worth sharing.



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