Today, I am continuing a series on Hunger Awareness which takes place during the month of September. Here are some statistics about hunger among children in the United States provided by ConAgra.org. These are very disturbing figures indeed.
Hunger Means Children Rely on Support from Food Banks
- Hunger disproportionately affects children—nearly 40 percent of the people who turn to charities for hunger relief are children, although they represent only 25 percent of the U.S. population.
- Households with children experience food insecurity at almost double the rate of households without children.
- Nearly 1 in 5 children in this country is served by Feeding America, the nation’s largest network of food banks.
- Nearly 14 million children are estimated to be served by Feeding America.
- More than 3 million of those children are ages five and under – representing nearly 13 percent of all children under age five in the United States.
- Feeding America clients with children in their households were often faced with the tough decision of providing food for their family and paying for other necessities. For example:
- More than 35 percent had to choose between food and medical care.
- Nearly 55 percent made trade-offs between food and utilities.
- More than 46 percent had to choose between food and paying rent or the mortgage.
Children who live in homes with food scarcity or insecurity have more difficulty in school. Hunger makes concentration almost impossible, there is increased illness and lack of energy. There is increased fear and insecurity in not knowing where your next meal will come from. Yes, some are able to participate in school food programs that provide breakfast and lunch, but there may be no food over the weekend or for an evening meal.
At East Nashville CoOp Ministry, we are striving to provide healthy food for the homeless and those living in poverty. Feeding America/Second Harvest stocks our pantry once a week for food boxes that are distributed to those in need. This is a crisis that is occurring nationwide and worldwide. The fact that we are the wealthiest nation in the world makes it hard to understand why anyone should go hungry. Feeding America/Second Harvest has fed 1 in 8 people this year. They have distributed 3 billion pounds of food and have fed 37 million Americans. But, the problem persists.
The CoOp has had to stop serving breakfast due to a lack of funds, but we are continuing to serve lunch. Today, we prepared lemon chicken orzo soup with kale, grilled cheese rounds and baked apple crisp. This soup was inspired by some that I had at Panera Bread Company. It is really good, healthy and easy to make. We made enough to feed 100 people today, but here is how you can make it at home on a smaller scale.
1 whole chicken
1 large onion, diced in small pieces
2 carrots, diced in small pieces
2 ribs celery, diced in small pieces
1 package orzo pasta
1 bunch kale ( or use fresh spinach if you prefer)
1/4 cup lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp dried oregano
Cover the chicken with water in a large pot and boil until the chicken is done. Remove the chicken and add about 4 cups of water to the remaining stock cooking in the pot. (you will have to use your judgment) Add the vegetables and let them cook until soft. Meanwhile, remove all the meat from the chicken, cut in bite sized pieces and return to the stock with vegetables. Add the oregano and lemon juice. Add the orzo and let cook until done, adding more liquid if needed - water or chicken stock in a box. If using kale, remove the stems from the leaves and chop the leaves into bite sized pieces. Add the kale once the orzo is cooked and let cook for about 15 more minutes. (If you are using spinach, give it a rough chop and add when the orzo is cooked). Salt and pepper to taste. Add more lemon juice if you prefer.
This is a delicious and filling soup with a nice lemon flavor that has a wonderful Mediterranean flare.
Because our budget is limited, we make lots of soups and casseroles that will stretch our money and feed as many people as possible. It is a real challenge, but ever so rewarding.
If there is a food pantry in your town or at your church, support it in any way you can. People need to eat every day of the year, not just at Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you have spare time, volunteer to help at your local soup kitchen or pantry doing what you can to help alleviate hunger in our country. The thought of a hungry child is heartbreaking.
Things to Remember:
Food brings people together on many different levels. It's nourishment of the soul and body; it's truly love! Giada deLaurentis