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The New Face of Hunger in America

 

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I started this blog sixteen months ago because of news reports of the increasing number of middle class Americans who have to rely on food stamps and food pantries to feed their families.

 Not poor, but middle class families.

I hoped that MTTD could provide a place for people to find delicious, easy, and inexpensive recipes that would not over burden their already tight budgets.

From then to now the number of people relying on food stamps and food pantries in order to feed their familes has increased so dramatically that food pantries are experiencing shortages of food.

This shortage of food at pantries has led to some new and innovative ways to keep up with demand.

According to a report from NPR, Food Bank Shortages Lead To Innovation, dented and crushed cans of food, which once were just thrown away,  may be getting a new lease on life. A vacuum packaging machine, which is usually used to vacuum seal foods in plastic packages, is now being tested to see if it can detect whether the food in dented cans has been spoiled or not.  The testing looks encouraging and may result in more food becoming available for the hungry. Just in the nick of time it seems.

According to the article 150 billion pounds of food a year is wasted in America. This is more than enough to feed the hungry.

And it is more than just individual households. It is corporate. Consider the following:

According to Jonathan Bloom, author of a book called American Wasteland: 

“All throughout the food chain, there’s a winnowing process, where anything that doesn’t look quite right or isn’t the right size gets cast aside,” Bloom says. “And this squandering of perfectly edible food is happening from farm to fork. The main culprit here is wanting our food to look perfect.”

He says lots of retailers prefer to throw damaged or bruised food away, rather than donating it, for fear of being sued if something goes wrong — even though there are laws protecting donors against such suits.

According to the article there is another 6 billon pounds of produce that never even makes it from farm to stores.

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As if all this was not bad enough I read an even more disturbing article this week. This headline really hits home for me.

Headline from the examinrer.com:

Senior citizens’ numbers dramatically increase in lineup at Sacramento food banks

And the opening paragraph sums the situation up quite well:

The myth that older adults are wealthy and spend their money on cruises and vacations at campuses for life-long learning is not what it appears. An increasing number of Sacramento senior adults are lining up for hours waiting for local food banks to open. [Emphasis mine.]

and this:

In Sacramento, it’s also the working poor that’s increasing in number as the newly homeless or others who may consider food as a luxury item. In 2009, the food bank served an average of about 2,300 people a month. This year, it is supplying food boxes to 2,900, according to the Sacramento Bee article.

The working poor……..

……..in America, the land of the free and the home of the brave.

But there is a new twist to the face of hunger in America today. Many of the hungry are the working hungry. They have jobs. But the jobs pay so little that after rent or mortgage and other necessities there is not enough money left over for food.

It is not the shiftless, nor the don’t wanna work that rely on food pantries these days. It is US.

This is a national disgrace.

There was some good heartening news in this article though. 

The pantry in Elk Grove also gets extra backyard produce dropped off by gardeners, up to 600 pounds a week during the summer….

You can read the entire article here, including, if you live in California, ways and places where you can help. Just click the link.

Featured Recipe    Grilled Tomatoes with Oregano and Lemon

When I first saw this recipe I thought to my self, “Oh My!!! This looks so delicious. I HAVE to try this.

Believe me I was not disappointed. This is a heavenly recipe. It is inspired! This is Martha Stewart and Everyday Food magazine at its absolute finest and best.

 This is what you will need for 4 people:

4 large tomatoes

2 garlic cloves

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

4 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves

4 tablespoons olive oil

Coarse salt and pepper

NOTE: I only used 2 tomatoes, but made the topping as directed for 4. And I used it all up on those two tomatoes. 

Here is what you do:

Remove the leaves from the oregano stem and dice them. Dice the garlic too. Zest and juice the lemon.

Place the oregano, garlic, and lemon juice and zest in a bowl.  Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the salt and pepper to the bowl……..

………and mix well. Set aside.

Heat the grill to medium high.

While you are waiting for the grill to heat up cut the tomatoes in half crosswise.

Brush the cut sides of the tomato with the rest of the olive oil.

Lightly oil the grill and then place the tomatoes halves cut side down on the hot grill.

Grill until lightly charred, about 4 minutes. Using a metal spatula, flip the tomatoes and grill until skins blister and begin to char, 2-3 minutes.

NOTE: Since Martha said to use a metal spatula, I did. In matters like this I believe Martha knows better than a mere mortal like myself. It did make turning the tomatoes easier.

Transfer the tomatoes to a serving patter, salt and pepper the tomatoes if desired, and then top with lemony oregano topping.

You can serve the tomatoes warm or at room temperature. I have eaten them both ways and both ways are simply delish!!!!

Bon Appetit!!!!! 

Cost

4 large tomatoes                   $2.93             

2 garlic cloves                       $0.22             

1 tbspn lemon juice               $0.45

1 tbspn lemon zest                in above cost

4 tspns oregano leaves         $1.00

4 tablespoons olive oil           $0.52

Coarse salt and pepper

Total cost = $5.12
Cost per person = $1.28
Quote of the Day
For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me
Matthew 25:35

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2 comments to The New Face of Hunger in America

  • As a babyboomer myself I’m not one bit surprised that the older folks are lining up. As jobs decline, it’s the older workers who cannot find another job so they’re left using all their savings and then when retirement comes there’s nothing left but social security. People who’ve worked hard and saved all their lives will live to the end in poverty. It’s really a shame.

    This is a nifty recipe!

  • […] next article is a follow up to the MTTD post, The New Face of the Hungry, where I mentioned that a lot of perfectly good food is wasted and thrown away by grocery stores […]