Statistics currently state that 1 in 4 children in America right now are not sure of where their next meal where come from. Between rising poverty levels, unemployment, and rising food costs, more and more people (let alone children) struggle to get food on the table. Those families where the parent/guardian works multiple jobs to try and make ends meet.
While I have been sincerely blessed with never struggling with this problem, I am still humbled. My job has me teaching in a very low-income, high-poverty area in rural Michigan; many of the students that I see everyday qualify for free & reduced breakfast/lunch. On Fridays, the needier report down to the office, where they receive a bag of food items to get them through the weekend.
What concerns me most about this hunger crisis is the fact that healthy, wholesome food is often found to be more expensive. It’s cheaper to eat products laden with chemicals, sodium, and fats, or just to swing by the fast food joint on the way home. Whatever will fill the belly, the most ‘bite for the buck’.
All this cheap, poor-quality food is a strong contributor to climbing obesity rates, and the lack of nutrition leads to poor health. How can a kid learn properly in school when they’re worrying about where their next meal is going to come from, or when they’re feeling absolutely awful from illness derived from poor nutrition? There has got to be a way out there to start turning the tables around.
What can we do to help?
- Ask Congress to protect federal nutrition programs
- Educate ourselves better about this growing problem
My favorite budget-friendly meals include:
- Red Beans & Rice – All you need is a can of kidney beans, and two cups of cooked rice. If you have spices or a half-eaten jar of salsa laying around, this makes a satisfying meal with great and plentiful leftovers.
- Spaghetti – A jar of sauce and some pasta can go a long way.
- Chili – If you can, buy a pound of ground meat. In a pot, brown it and add some diced tomatoes, an onion (diced), chili powder, salt & pepper, and some kidney beans if you’d like. If you also have it, corn. The more vegetables you have laying around, the bigger the ‘batch’ will become. We like to stretch our pots of chili by serving it atop of spaghetti, rather than by itself alone.