Austin Blog Hunger Force

April 23, 2010 at 1:15 am Leave a comment

For the last month, and for 10 weeks to come, I’ve been working on communications assignments at the Capital Area Food Bank for 20 hours a week. Recent readers will already have noted my saying that it’s exactly the kind of work I’d been wanting to do, and that the experience has changed my perspective on and relationship with food. It’s almost like daily volunteering, and I know it will lead to a lifelong relationship with the organization.

Now – in an entirely coincidental occurrence – the community of Austin food bloggers, as spearheaded by the Austin American-Statesman‘s Addie Broyles and Austin Farm to Table‘s Kristi Willis, has taken up the cause of hunger awareness. Over the next week or so, more than two dozen local food bloggers will be trying to feed themselves and their families from the shorter list of rations provided by local food pantries and SNAP (the food stamp program). With one foot at the Food Bank and one foot in the food blogging community, I will join them. We’ll be sharing our hunger stories, writing about our experiences in learning about hunger, fighting hunger, and understanding hunger.

We met out at the food bank last night, taking a tour of the warehouse and teaching gardens and hearing from CAFB online marketing director Lisa Goddard, who reminded us that “hunger is everybody’s story.” We may never have been hungry – truly hungry, without knowing when we would feel satisfied again. But we may have had family with that experience, or neighbors. We may pass that person on the corner, or even wait behind that person in line at the grocery store as they carefully tally the items in their basket against the contents of their wallet. Hunger is increasingly, shamefully, unacceptably a part of our community – whether we know it, see it, or choose to acknowledge it.

This is not some group of dilettantes looking for a hook to increase readership or score a book-and-movie deal. The Austin food bloggers out at CAFB last night came together out of a sense of purpose, of wanting to understand the challenges faced by the 48,000 people who need to avail themselves of food pantry assistance each week. How do you figure out what kind of SNAP (food stamp) assistance you would get? Is that $200 every month? For just one person? So if I’m single, I should look at $50 for the week? How many of those bags would someone be able to pick up each month? One? So we should really only use about a fourth of that. A fourth of the list, plus $50…

Each blogger is going to determine a set of standards for her own week, based on family size (there are two of us), circumstances (we have an out-of-town family obligation this weekend and will start on Monday), and other criteria. But the point is not to adhere strictly to a formula of $X plus $Y divided by 7. The point is to try to work with what we’re given, to think about how others might do the same. The point is to come to an understanding of what hunger means in our community, to share our experiences and be open to new ones.

list of participating bloggers can be found on the Capital Area Food Bank blog, which will be keeping tabs on the project all week. And in all of this, it doesn’t go without saying, if you are so moved, you can give of your time or resources, to CAFB or to your local food assistance organizations. In the week or so to come, I hope to show you the real difference our food banks make.

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A little nosh while you wait Many obligations, one big pot

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Some of my cookbooks

In no order except for how they appear in my LibraryThing cookbook catalog: True Women Cookbook: Original Antique Recipes, Photographs, & Family Folklore, Janice Woods Windle (1997) * Made in Texas; H-E-B's 100th Anniversary Cookbook (2005) * The Texas Cowboy Cookbook: A History in Recipes and Photos, Robb Walsh (2007) * The Silver Palate Cookbook, Julee Rosso, Sheila Lukins (1982) * In the Land of Cocktails: Recipes and Adventures from the Cocktail Chicks, Ti Adelaide Martin & Lally Brennan (2007) * Braise: A Journey Through International Cuisine, Daniel Boulud (2006) * Moosewood Cookbook : Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant, Mollie Katzen (1977) * Crescent City Cooking: Unforgettable Recipes from Susan Spicer's New Orleans, Susan Spicer (2007) * Saveur Cooks Authentic American: By the Editors of Saveur Magazine, ed. Colman Andrews (1998)

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