Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hunger in America

Sometimes, it's difficult to be slated to post in week two of a topic. This is one of those times. We've talked about character hunger, metaphorical hunger, cravings, all slants I considered for this topic but they've already been done and done well. So I'm going to return to a subject that is near and dear to me.

Hunger in your town. With the shift in the national economy, the squeeze on local budgets, the corporate layoffs, the trickle down effect to every single citizen has been felt in our bank accounts. Add in the rising cost of food and you've got a recipe for a whole lot of hunger right around the corner.

The Hunger in America 2010 study is the first research study to capture the significant connection between the recent economic downturn and an increased need for emergency food assistance. The number of people in need of food has increased 46% since the previous study in 2006.

If you want to read more about Hunger in America:

The thing about food bank donations is that everyone thinks to donate around the holidays when they are out shopping for their own excessive meals

but food banks need to feed the hungry year round.

Consider ways you can help:

1. Find your local food bank website online. They likely have events all year long where they will have donation bins. Buy a few extra cans of corn or an extra jar of peanut butter at the store to place in their bin. Every can or jar feeds someone.

2. Organize a food drive at your school, church, tennis club. Most food banks make it very easy to organize a drive. Your job is to promote and get people to give.

3. Donate money to help with organizational costs. This is the easiest way but probably for most people the hardest thing to do is take money out of own already tightened budgets.

4. Donate your time. Volunteer to sort food. Most food banks have volunteer shifts to take the food out of donation bags and bins and sort into food categories for storage AND to make sure the food is edible. (FYI-They keep any cans within one year of the expiration date.)

And remember EVERY gesture helps.


ps. And now for listening to my plea, I'll leave you with a little taste of my next thriller, Betrayals, due out at the end of September.

Something snuffled in the corner.

I curled my arm protectively around the meager bowl of whatever they’d brought me. No stinking rodent was going to touch my daily ration.

The dank smell of urine-soaked sand, feces, and human sweat filled the fetid air. A thin layer of grit and despair coated everything, including my tongue. I vowed never to set foot on a beach again.

Probably wouldn’t anyway. As I was likely to die in this godforsaken rathole of a prison. I scooped the cooked until mush food into my mouth greedily, careful not to spill a single grain.

Hard to believe a month ago Jordan and I had been dining on spice-rubbed porterhouse and chipotle garlic mashed potatoes in D.C.

That life was long gone. The contrast between then and now was laughable.

Then, I’d dabbed daintily at my mouth with a soft linen napkin. Now, I lapped the bowl with my sand-coated tongue and carefully sucked on each dirt-crusted finger.

If malnutrition didn’t kill me, the germs probably would.

I could hear the woman, our chef, server, and general attendant, coming. But I wasn’t finished.

Fuuuuuccckkkkk. I screamed the expletive silently. I’d learned brutally fast that cursing, especially from a woman, in this prison was taboo.

One by one, the locks clicked open. I huddled over the tiny tin bowl, licking with short, frantic strokes, trying to eat it all before she took my food away. My arm chains clanked as they swung together, ringing in the silence. I ignored the stabs of extreme pain in my left arm.

The woman scurried in furtively and eased the door closed.

This was a change in routine. Subtly, I shifted to a higher state of alertness. The bruises, aches, and burns from the last ‘change in routine’ still hadn’t healed. I hadn’t had a beating or torture session in a few days. They’d left me alone.

I was pretty sure the radius bone in my left forearm arm was broken. Fortunately not the ulna and fortunately not my shooting arm.

“Miss,” she whispered in Pashto.

I didn’t answer. I didn’t know how much they knew about my background and I wasn’t about
to give anything away.

“Miss.” This time she whispered in Dari.

I remained silent.

“Miss.” Next it was Modern Standard Arabic. Something must have flickered in my eyes because she continued in Modern Standard. “Come. I will let you go.”

My brain whirred. It had to be a trap. Let me go and then follow me. Thinking I’d lead them to whatever they thought I had.

Common torture tactic. Slowly break down all barriers to civilized behavior until the prisoner was more animal than human. Then dangle the carrot of freedom and watch the animal lunge for it.

If I was in their shoes, that’s what I would do.

pps. Some national and international food resources.





Rachael Herron said...

A good reminder, thank you for this. I just finished a bowl of cereal and yogurt and I am so full, and you've reminded me to be grateful. And great excerpt! Want to read already!!!

Mysti said...

Holy MacGillacutty! What an excerpt! Thanks also for the reminders of how to help. In a city as rich as San Francisco, it's obscene that anyone here goes hungry.

Gigi Pandian said...

Thanks for the two-for-one post! Now I want to both go out and donate and to read more...

L.G.C. Smith said...

Great post, Lisa. Thanks.

And I've read BETRAYALS, and it rocks. Seriously. As good as BLOWBACK is? This one's even better.

Adrienne Bell said...

Also, a lot of employers have a way for you to give as a payroll deduction. I give to America's Second Harvest every paycheck and I never have to think about. Gifts of money helps because they can make it go much farther than I can at Safeway.

Oh...and you sure can write, lady.

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