Wednesday, February 3, 2010

It's hard to write about my own dinner when so many are going without it

Haiti reminded me, but it's not just Haiti, it's here: Philadelphia is one of the "hungriest" cities in the country.

I forget constantly that I'm lucky. I can buy Cheerios: I don't have to buy the cheap no-name cereal. I can put whatever cut of meat I want on my children's plates. When I run out of milk I jump into my car and drive up to the Acme for more. My girls are 13 and 11, and even at this stage, teen and pre-teen, they can't stand to be hungry for even one second so I often have apples and gum and cereal bars in my car. Just sitting around my car.

I give money - to Philabundance, and, recently, to a Hospital Albert Schweitzer, 90 miles outside Port Au Prince (click here to donate - your money goes directly there, and is not filtered through other organizatins) and I bring canned goods and cereal to our church (when I remember to) - which then gives donations to a Philadelphia community center. But I don't know. There is something so easy about doing these things. What am I teaching my children about helping others -- that all you have to do is write a check?

Last night I couldn't sleep, so I went online and found this story about The Power Of Half in the NYTimes - by op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristoff. It made me think of hunger - what could I do without to help alleviate the hunger in my area? My 13 year old and her friends in our Sunday school will fast one Saturday in March to call attention to world hunger - which is awesome - but it's only once a year. What if we did something like that as a family once a week? Ok, not fast. That wouldn't work with my two. But we could do something smaller on a regular basis, such as forego meat and dessert, and put the money we would have spent on that food toward hunger in the Philadelphia area. We all talked about it at dinner and decided that we would calculate what we spend per night on a home cooked meal and one night a week spend only a quarter or less on dinner for the family, donating the rest to a charity that fights hunger. The girls are I are going to do the shopping together, too, so we all really understand what things cost. I've read that the "average" middle class family of four spends about $20-$25 a night on dinner (That seems like a lot!) Can we we make a nutritious meal for a family of four for $4 or $5? It is a challenge when things like a head of broccoli cost $3 or more depending on where you buy it. And another question: does it count if I have to go far out of my way to shop at the cheaper market? Should I factor gas into the equation? I kind of feel like I should.

So this is what I'm doing - it's a process and we'll see how it goes. I'd love to know: how are you all talking with your families about Haiti and hunger and poverty?

1 comment:

  1. Kathy - I am always feeling as though I throw $$ at my dinner...overspending to put something on the table -- and I rarely even cook anything interesting. Just the other day, I was thinking just the same thought as you -- what if dinner for 4 were limited to $4 or 5. Many people do this because they have to... what would we make?? How are our kids thinking about all this? For my kids, food is something that magically appears fully cooked on the table. I'm not sure they are connected to the fact that it's GROWN.


What are you having for dinner tonight?