The Annual American Worship at the High Altar of Food

by Carol Hess on November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving – the American holiday that glorifies food like no other day in the year.  Yesterday I found myself in the grocery store before 8 a.m. so I could beat the crowds and buy the ingredients for the dish I’m contributing to our yearly worship at the High Altar of Food.

And then last night I finished up my day by watching Chopped, a Food Network television show where four chefs compete for a grand prize by cooking first an appetizer, then an entrée, and finally a dessert with a box full of mystery ingredients.  At least one of the ingredients is something weird like rattlesnake meat or gummy bears or something.

But last night the show was different.  The four chefs were all “lunch ladies” – women who cook in school cafeterias for American children.  The ingredients weren’t weird.  And one of the judges was a chef from the White House who works with Mrs. Obama on the healthy eating initiative.

The show was an eye opener for me because I learned something that rocked me to the core.  I think it’s going to rock you to your core too.

I learned that there are children in the United States who have nothing to eat over the weekend. They go without food for 72 hours.  Their last meal of the week is Friday lunch at school, and their next meal is Monday lunch at school.  I didn’t know that.  Did you?

The Food Network knows it. The White House knows it.  The lunch ladies know it.  That’s why one of last night’s lunch ladies packs backpacks full of food Friday afternoon for the children under her care.  And Monday is Pasta Day so she can fill empty tummies easily and cheaply.  (The budget per child per meal is less than $1.50.)

I’ve heard of childhood hunger in the United States.  But I just didn’t get it until last night.  Now I do. Children in my country are not getting enough to eat.  If it weren’t for school lunch programs and lunch ladies, these children would starve to death.

Starvation – the same thing that happens every single second in poor countries around the world.  Hunger – what every mother and child in an African refugee camp feels.  Only this time it’s not happening in a poor country.  It’s happening in our country, the wealthiest country in the world.  And it’s not going on in an African refugee camp.  It’s going on in our neighborhoods — yours and mine.

That’s something to think about as we get ready to worship at the High Altar of Food, isn’t it? Maybe it’s even something to take action about.

Childhood Hunger in America

by Carol Hess

6 comments

Categories Community, Weighing In (Rants & Raves)

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Jane Morrison November 23, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Hi Carol,
Just a little note to tell you how much I enjoy reading your posts. I love the way you write, it often makes me want to laugh and cry during the same read. Very poignant, touching, insightful wisdom you share. When i see your posts in my inbox, it’s always something I take time to read. Thanks for sharing so openly and from your heart… and happy thanksgiving!
Hugs, Jane

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avatar Carol Hess November 25, 2011 at 1:07 am

Thank you so much, Jane, for your kind words. Knowing that something I’ve written has moved somebody is probably one of the biggest reasons why I write. You have made my day! I hope your Thanksgiving was (continues to be?) a lovely one.

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avatar Justin | Personal Growth November 26, 2011 at 1:15 am

Hi Carol,
I am a big proponent of home vegetable gardens. They are so easy and cheap to start and you don’t need much room to feed a family of four. We don’t need more food per se, we need more healthy and natural foods in our diet.

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avatar Carol Hess November 26, 2011 at 5:17 am

That’s an excellent point, Justin. I remember seeing a show about the White House vegetable garden which, I believe, is organic. It isn’t huge, but it produces enough food for the White House needs plus plenty left over that goes to a local soup kitchen. Do you have any website you can point people toward for more info if they want to start their own home vegetable garden? And thanks for joining in our conversation here at Star Polisher, Justin, and adding your perspective.

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avatar Becki Noles November 28, 2011 at 11:38 am

Thank you so much for sharing this Carol. I watched that episode with tearful gratitude. I’m so glad that there are such special people out there. I too was shocked to learn about the hunger here in America. I feel as though I’ve lived the proverbial bubble.

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avatar Carol Hess November 28, 2011 at 1:14 pm

I’ve been right there in the bubble with you, Becki. But now we know what we know, and we can’t pretend we don’t. Awareness is a great bubble buster, isn’t it? Thanks so much for joining the conversation here at Star Polisher.

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