Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fast brings us closer to the reality of hunger

By Jeanette Arnquist
Director, Ministry of Life Dignity and Justice

Saturday, April 30
I opened my email from the Catholic Legislative Network last Friday and there was an invitation to join the First Fridays for Food Security Campaign.  I followed the link, and here is what they are asking.  Would my family (my husband Cliff and myself) be willing to commit to eating on the amount we would get if we were on the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program – formerly known as food stamps.  I like a challenge, so I said “Why not?”  Then I asked Cliff and he said “What’s the point?”  The point of the fast is to raise awareness about the reality that many of our bothers and sisters face every day, and to experience that reality, ourselves.  If we are going to be faithful citizens, we need to do more than read about food policy and study statistics.  More information about the campaign can be found at on Facebook or at http://www.cacatholic.org/images/stories/pdfs/fasting-resource-intro-may-6.pdf

Monday, May 2
I looked up the amount.  $11.20.  At first I thought that was just for dinner.  Wrong, that is for the whole day.

Wednesday, May 4
I just calculated that we usually spend about $4.00 on breakfast.  We will not be doing that on our fasting Fridays.  Lunch is easy – I can keep that around $1 or $2.  Now for dinner.

Thursday, May 5
I just looked up how much we spend on groceries this year.  $2,052 for 4 months.  $17.10 per day.  That figure does not include what we spend in cash.  We buy most of our vegetables at a farmer’s market, and there are lots of quick trips to the store for one item.  It does not include meals eaten out.

We went to market night and spent about $25 on vegetables.

Friday, May 6
Here is the break out:

Breakfast: 
fresh orange juice, 1/3 bag of oranges..............$1.00
cold cereal with milk.......................................$0.60

Lunch:
hummus.......................................................$2.00
carrots.........................................................$0.50
soy nut mix..................................................$1.00

Dinner:
lettuce salad.................................................$1.00
pasta with kale.............................................$2.50

Total:...........................................................$8.60

What is not included is olive oil, vinegar, garlic, herbs, Parmesan cheese and a few pine nuts (very extravagant at $14 per pound!).  So add another $2.50, which puts us right at the max.

Reflecting on this exercise, I have to say it wasn’t impossible.  It took a lot of planning and depended on a well stocked pantry and 45 years of cooking experience.  We had enough calories and vegetables, but were too low on protein and too high in carbs for long term.  If we were to eat on $336 per month we wouldn’t have on hand large quantities of things like olive oil and Parmesan from the local big box store.

While Cliff and I were able to think hypothetically what it would be like to eat on this kind of a budget, we know it is a daily reality for more people in our diocese than you would think.

In our diocese, alone, 286,000 people are food insecure and they do experience hunger on a daily basis.  Our 61 parish food ministries can also attest to local hunger.

Around the world it is even more dramatic: 1.3 billion people live on less than $1.25 per day and 3 billion on less than $2.  Every year 15 million children die of hunger. 

What can we do about all of this?  We can do activities at home or in the parish, such as participating in the First Fridays for Food Security to raise awareness and follow up with discussion.  We can take pastoral action by supporting the parish ministry to the poor.  And – very important – we can follow the weekly email from the Catholic Legislative Network and take actions that address hunger here and around the world.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We encourage dialogue in the spirit of Christian fellowship, however any offensive, hostile or messages that go beyond the scope of the blog topic will be censored.

Alentamos el diálogo en un espíritu de compañerismo cristiano, sin embargo, cualquier ofensiva, hostil o mensajes que van más del tema del blog será censurado.