Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Hunger Challenge, or Blogging for Charity

And this week on the Pens we've got a little weekend extra!! Our pal, Bethany is here! Bethany Herron is an almost-Pen, by blood (yes, that Herron). She drives freight trains, raises moolah for disadvantaged youth, counts pennies on the Board of SFA-RWA, and writes urban fantasy from her Edwardian-era flat (it has a pie safe!) in Oakland, California.

Blogging is a very personal thing. Which is a nice way of saying that it has a tendency to become quite selfish.

There are frequent breaks in that tendency, all of which I love: twitter mavens donating their tweet to charity, fundraising campaigns through social media, blog posts that shed light on a social injustice.

Some non-profits are starting to do amazing things on blogging platforms, raising awareness and involving online communities. Which brings me neatly to my #HungerChallenge! For one week, finishing up today, the SF Food Bank challenged bloggers everywhere to try and live on an average food stamp budget.

That’s $33, for one week. $4.72 a day. Dude, one Zachary’s pizza would wipe you out for the entire week. And that’s not even counting a tip.

I’m not going to focus on the fact that I failed miserably. I’m not even going to go into the why and how; you can check out my personal blog for that, if you’re so inclined. I will share a couple of thoughts that came to me during the process, and hope that it inspires you to show some charity towards your local food bank. And yes, this will still be all about me. It is a blog, after all.

I’m blessed, and I know it. I have an amazing support system, and a billion places to score a freegan meal. I still have an ‘emergency’ credit card, even after cutting all my real cards into little pieces at the beginning of this year.

What happens when those fail? When my sisters can’t afford to feed me, and when all of my emergency cards max out from “but I really needed it” pizza and ice cream? What happens when – not if, but when – I’m looking for some charity?

See, I always think the apocalypse is just around the corner. I’ve been learning how to create debris shelters and make fire, and a tracking course is in my future. But there are smaller, more personal apocalypses. Where your world falls apart, but the one around you keeps going.

I hope I will be prepared and have the strength of will to keep going when that happens, just like the 38 million people on food stamps in the US already do. I could live on $4.72, for sure. But it wouldn’t be easy, it wouldn’t be fun, and it would also be only one small view of a larger life of difficulties.

Plus, no more Hangar One Vodka tonics! Like, ever! Can you imagine the horror? This was a very dry week.

Be charitable, while you can. And appreciate your booze while you still have it.

And if you want more of Bethany, you can read about her adventures here.


Rachael Herron said...

Speaking of selfish, let's do a Hangar One tour soon! I've never been. Also, yes to the donation. Good call.

L.G.C. Smith said...

Well, said, Bethany. In my younger years, I worked in several situations where I cooked for lots of people on very limited budgets. It takes focus and sacrifice to make it work, but it can be done. And growing fresh herbs is key.

This is such an important issue. The food budget in my house is high. That's partly because we have the privilege of eating mostly organic and buying from local and sustainable food producers. Because land costs are so high in the Bay Area, local organic food comes at a premium. I know all the ins and outs because my sister owns and operates a local organic farm.

I justify my food budget choices based on what I saw change in the land on that farm when it went organic. Insects and wildlife came back. The dogs stopped getting early cancers and dying young. It smelled different. Earthy. Healthy. And the fruit was just as good, if not better tasting than it had been. Mostly, though, I support eating organic food to support farmers having healthier lives and all of us having a healthier environment.

It's easy to forget that one of the reasons our country turned to chemicals was to provide higher quality food to more people. Hunger is always an issue somewhere. We have enough research now to know that responsible organic agriculture is usually as productive as other means of producing food. But when disaster strikes, it behooves us all to know basic nutritional needs and how to meet them as cheaply as possible.

And it really isn't hard to support our local food banks now when so many of us have more than we need while others go hungry.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, L! I love your comments. I ate a good bit from my garden, and friends gardens on this, and even the farmers market bargains were organic. It's still much harder to live on a budget on organic, but I think that needs to be a part of our future, if we can possibly make it happen.

Lisa Hughey said...

Bethany--Love that you *tried*. I've been trying to do a better job of buying and eating without waste (for the whole family). I think the hardest part of planning meals is that we don't allot the time to shop/plan/bargain hunt and prepare our food. We've grown so used to convenience and quick things that it comes as a bit of shock to realize how much time we need to invest to do it properly.

And yay for donating to the food bank. Lots of great charities out there but more and more people are requesting help to feed their families. The cost of just one martini will buy a great number of canned vegetables for the food bank. :)

Martha Flynn said...

I was trying to figure out whether I could on those weeks when I mostly eat out of my garden but when I account for cost of water, soil, etc...yikes, probably not!!

And the apocalypse IS around the corner. Have you seen the youtube video on making fire from ice? Watch it learn it love it live it.

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