Are you hungry today? I hope so. I hope you are hungry for many things in life like the love of family and friends, nature, and the simple joys that make our world a better place. I hope you thirst for the taste of what each day holds. This can be many different things for each of us, but like the saying goes, that is what makes the world go around. True indeed, now I just need to remind myself of this about five times today.
Let me ask the question again though, are you hungry, really hungry? This time however, I hope your answer is no. I hope you are not truly hungry for many things: nutrients, energy, food that nourishes our body and keeps it healthy. Sadly, there are many around us who are hungry. Unlike me, they can’t hop in the car and drive to the store up the road to choose fresh produce for dinner. There is no car, there is no store down the street with selections of fresh vegetables to choose from. There is no money to buy it, either. This makes my heart hurt, it makes my eyes well up with tears, it makes me want to run from the safe and comfortable walls of my home with a basket of food. It makes me sad, heartbroken, to think of children in my own city who are going to bed hungry, crying because they have not had dinner. Again. In Forsyth County, Winston-Salem has the most severe problem with this situation, known as food deserts, and NC is now among the top states in the US with this problem. The USDA defines a food desert as “a part of the country without access to fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas. This is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers.”
Doesn’t this stop you in your tracks and make you ask “Why?” “How?” How can someone who might live 3 miles away from me suffer like this? Yet, this is what is happening every day to children and their families in our community. As I write this I am fighting back tears. I think of my own children, and your children and grandchildren, who come home from school asking what is for snack. Children who grow up knowing a home filled with the smell of freshly baked cookies at Holidays and the smell of dinner in the oven each night. Children who know the simple joy of smelling a fresh peeled orange, or who know the crispness of an apple in the Fall, a strawberry in May, or blueberries and corn in July. Children who run in after sports hungry, asking what is for dinner without even giving pause that there is no option. Thinking about this makes the word fair seem to have no meaning at all. How can it be fair that there is another 8 year old girl in this city, perhaps another girl with beautiful curls and dark passionate eyes, but she is hungry every weekend? How can this be fair, and what can we do?
Fortunately, a lot of light has been shed on this problem recently and things are being done. A wonderful organization called H.O.P.E. (which stands for Help Our People Eat) is going into the food deserts in Winston-Salem each weekend and feeding children. They do not simply hand out meals to be taken home where the children often have to give them away, but the children eat at the HOPE truck. It is a growing and magnificent program, and just like the name it gives me hope. There is also Hope du Jour, sponsored by Crisis Control Ministries, that supports fighting hunger in our area. Founded in 1990, this program now has over 125 participating restaurants and other small businesses (such as your very own Julia’s Take Away Gourmet). When you dine out at a participating restaurant at least 10% of proceeds on Tuesday, May 6th will be donated to Hope du Jour. So mark your calendars and dine out for a cause on that day, or by ordering from Julia’s TAG next Weds, April 30th.
So you see, every now and then, eating out is more than a meal. Every now and then you know you are doing some good, helping in some small way. It isn’t often I find irony by closing with a simple saying about enjoying the best of food and life, but tonight I do. I wish everyone knew this joy. My hope is that even if my contribution is small, it does matter. That choosing the best of food and life today, means choosing to help someone else know this joy, too.