Skip to content

A Trip I Wouldn’t Want to Take Again

This morning I’ve read posts by various Food Bloggers Against Hunger.

No child should go hungry in America, yet 1 in 4 U.S. kids don’t know where their next meal will come from.

Food Bloggers Against Hunger was created in response to the new documentary from Participant Media, A Place at the Table. On April 8, 2013, food bloggers will donate their posts to raise awareness about the film, issues of hunger, and ask their readers to send letters to Congress to protect SNAP funding and make anti-hunger legislation a priority.

I’m reminded of one of the most anxiety inducing chapters of my life, not long after my son was born. New parenthood is scary enough but single parenting without a net is just plain terrifying. While pregnant my nesting instincts kicked into overdrive and I convinced myself that buying a house was A GOOD IDEA. But then struggled to cover my bills. The cost of daycare was more than my mortgage payment. I was already exhausted and stressed, just barely scraping by, when the bombshell hit. I lost my job when my son was nine months old. He’d had some medical problems (two surgeries before he turned one) so I needed to cover the monthly cost of COBRA, which was even greater than daycare. I quickly found temp work and that temp work led to a permanent position but it didn’t take long for my debt to spiral out of control. In a matter of months my car was repossessed and my home went into foreclosure. At the time it felt like everyone wanted a piece of me but I didn’t have enough money to cover the basics.

I was still breastfeeding my son when I experienced real hunger for the first time. My fridge and kitchen cupboards were empty. I had just covered our COBRA payment again, was a month or two behind on my mortgage payment, my savings account was empty and my checking account was seriously overdrafted and racking up fees. Overwhelming despair did battle with a powerful need to eat. And to produce milk so my son could nurse, and to get some solid foods for him to eat (a pretty new development at that time). Thankfully I was resourceful. The car hadn’t been repossessed yet and still had half a tank of gas. And I was armed with some useful knowledge. I knew where to go dumpster diving. I scored free baked goods (safely wrapped in layers of plastic) from the trash behind Breadsmith. I knew a place to pick up barely expired Naked juice. And I had friends who worked at local co-ops. That summer saw a number of power outages where all the perishables had to be thrown away. Those friends gave me the heads up so I could swoop in before the food went bad. I picked up a couple of grocery bags’ worth each time. And my saving grace was the Seward Cafe. Back then they still closed in the afternoon and would give away whatever cooked food they had leftover at the end of the day. For a few weeks I regularly lined up with strangers, with my baby on my hip, to load up on free beans and brown rice and kale at four in the afternoon. It was nerve wracking but I got by. I can’t imagine keeping that up for the long term. The intervening years haven’t been easy by any stretch. But we have avoided experiencing that sort of food insecurity again and my son - now a teenager - has thrived.

Let’s see if we can give other children that opportunity. Please join me in telling congress that Federal nutrition programs are crucial for hungry children. And watch the trailer for A Place at the Table. And consider other ways to help.

First Birthday

One Comment

  1. Kate wrote:

    Sounds like we are kindred spirits. Moving on from that is such a challenge, but it sounds like we both came out on top in the end, and our sons are none the worse for wear. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Monday, April 8, 2013 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *