Foodies fighting hunger. What’s this all about? Well, a couple weeks ago I gave a little presentation/talk to a few classes at the high school I work at about blogging. During these conversations, I had mentioned a frustration I have for food/lifestyle bloggers who advocate for healthy and/or organic living but never advocate for equal access to the resources needed to live a health/organic life (much less acknowledge the privilege it takes to live a life full of beautiful acai smoothie bowls and fresh pressed juices). And so, upon reflection, I realized I needed to walk the walk and not just talk the talk; dust off my advocacy skills, if you will. Thus, an idea was born. What if a bunch of foodies got together to acknowledge our privilege, attempt to create a recipe with only $5 in our pocket, and spread some information on hunger/poverty issues in the US while also providing ways for you, the reader, to do a little advocacy work yourself? And what if we partnered with an incredible organization like MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, which is a national nonprofit organization working to end hunger in the United States and Israel for all faiths and backgrounds in order to make sure we get all the facts and figures right? I’m hoping good things. That’s what I’m happening will happen.
Therefore, after a few nudging emails (from me) to almost every food blogger I’ve ever spoken with and/or wished I have spoken with, a mighty little band of foodie advocates was born. This band of Foodies Fighting Hunger includes the following bloggers (by blog name):
I am very much hoping this will be the first in a series of posts featuring an even wider-range of bloggers advocating for equal access to food and for putting an end to hunger and poverty. I am also appreciate the bloggers who jumped on board right away, even if they had never heard of me, because of their commitment to fight and advocate. I am also especially grateful to MAZON, especially Emily Dingmann, who not only the Communications Director at MAZON but is also the blogger behind A Nutritionist Eats.
A few things of note:
- I do not live in a food desert. Within a 2 mile radius of where I live in Encino, CA, there is a Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Ralph’s Grocery, a large kosher grocer called, Encino Glatt Mart, and countless other mini markets. For this post, I chose to shop at Ralph’s as it is the most prevalent grocery store in Souther Los Angeles.
- I have a kosher home, therefore, my ingredient list ran a bit more expensive then the non-kosher versions of the same ingredients. For my family and countless families across the US, keeping kosher is not a ‘choice’ but a religious commandment/obligation.
Hunger is as prevalent as it is pernicious. It is not restricted only to third world countries or homeless people, but has increasingly become the province of families in highly industrialized nations, including the United States and Israel. The best adjective to accurately describe the amount of food available in the United States is abundant. Hunger affects 1 out of every 7 American men, women and children and persists in this country not because of a lack of food, but because we lack the political will to end the problem by ensuring that vulnerable people have equal access to nutritious food. In California, the State my family now calls home, there are 1,776,465 households who are considered food insecure, a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food (definition grabbed from the US Gov website). In addition, nationally-speaking, there are over 15 million children who struggle with hunger and 22% living in poverty. One of the BIGGEST myths I want to make sure is noted in this post is the myth that government programs enable ‘lazy’ people to live ‘well’ on society’s dime. This is wholly inaccurate and gets my blood boiling. What a privileged way of thinking. Most folks who I hear these types of sentiments from have usually never experienced a day of food insecurity in their lives. But here’s the truth,
“As the nation’s economic recovery continues, government programs like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, aka food stamps) provide a vital lifeline that helps people receive the sustenance they need to get back on their feet. 40% of households receiving SNAP benefits include at least one working person. The average benefit provided by SNAP equates to roughly $1.40 per person per meal – hardly an extravagant amount, and certainly not enough to do anything beyond simply get by.” ~ www.mazon.org
- Hunger myths: there is a stark contrast between the widely held myths and realities about hunger and these myths/realities can shed some light on WHY there is hunger in America if you’d like to touch on that.
- This is Hunger stories: a unique view into the reality of who in America struggles with hunger and why
- Infographics: about hunger (general hunger, seniors, children, rural, SNAP, etc.)
- Interactive map: individual data on how many food insecure households are in your state
- Tell Congress to end hunger for military families now!
- Invest and Improve Child Nutrition Programs
- Educate others: Share this post and other posts involved in this advocacy campaign!
- Sign up to volunteer by yourself or with your family at various local food shelters
- Next time you host a holiday party or birthday party, ask friends to bring a canned good or other donate-able food item instead of a present (or with a present) . . . I love presents.
When deciding on the ingredients for this post, I decided on the cheap because, well, I only had $5 to spend and I wanted to stretch every dollar. I also had to get kosher ingredients as we keep a kosher home. I had originally wanted to include a fresh veggie in the dish but after the cost of the dairy products, I was out of money. But herbs were cheap and still green so herbs it was. I also wanted to included sauteed garlic in butter or olive oil but again, I did not have enough money for this so the only seasonings used were table salt and pepper. The following is the breakdown of the ingredients to my recipe (both kosher and non-kosher cost).
Ramen $.99 $.39
Milk $1.79 Same
Cream Cheese $1.99 Same
Dill $.25 Same
Parsley $.25 Same
So my kosher total was $.5.27 and my non-kosher total is just under $5, coming in at $4.67. The two items I have yet to calculate are salt and pepper, which would set me back even more but I picked up some free salt and pepper packets at the deli counter so, BINGO! Luckily, this recipe included ingredients that weren’t vastly different when it came to cost but that is mainly because I didn’t include any real cheese or meat products, which, of course, make every recipe much more expensive regardless of whether or not the dish is kosher or not.
- 1 package of instant ramen
- 1/2 cup of cream cheese
- 1/4 cup of 2% milk or full fat
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1/2 tbsp pepper
- fresh dill, finely chopped
- fresh parsley, finely chopped
- Cook ramen as directed on the back of the package but do make sure you DO NOT OVER COOK. It will get too soggy. Once done, drain and run a little cold water of the noodles while they are in the collander so that they will stop cooking.
- Place cream cheese in the pot that the ramen was cooking in and turn on heat to low. Add the ramen to the pot with the cream cheese. Add the milk and stir. The mixture should be thick-ish. If you'd rather it a little thinner, just add a bit more milk.
- Add salt and pepper. Stir to combine and taste. Adjust seasoning to your liking. Top with fresh herbs. Serve hot.