As most of you know last weekend I participated in a hunger challenge. Trust me when I say that I don't go in for stuff like this lightly. I like food. I like food a whole awful lot. I guess that is one of the reasons I am a food blogger? So when I was approached to do a weekend long fast for NoFood4You, to raise awareness for childhood hunger, I was apprehensive to say the least. But because it was going to be in the company with some incredible people and for a cause that I wholeheartedly, 100% believe in I got on board. I can tell you now that I am honored and feel so privileged to have been able to do this challenge.
Last Friday at lunch time I went to a local school (of 800 children at the school 750 of them are on the free or reduced lunch program) to have lunch. I was in good company. There were several different local news agencies and local business owners and kids. Lots and lots of kids. Anyway we all ate our lunch of fish sticks, potato has browns, carrot sticks, and milk and that was it until Monday morning!!! The idea behind all of this is that there are children who go to school and eat at school on the lunch programs but once they leave school for the weekend they have no access to food until school starts back up Monday morning and they are offered breakfast by the school.
And I did it! I lasted the whole way through. Thanks to a bit of Gatorade, a ton of support from my family and friends, and knowing that the reason behind doing this was to help raise awareness for childhood hunger! Was it easy? No way. Would I ever do this again? I really don’t think so unless ‘you know who you are’ really, really needed me too!!! This is right up there with some of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. I am not even really sure that if I was invited to do this challenge again that I would want to do it again. The ending result has been incredible. We were able to raise awareness and money (I think it was $12K) so in the end it was incredibly awarding.
I learned a lot over the weekend and that’s what this post is about. What I, personally, walked away with from this challenge and I can tell you it certainly wasn’t a full tummy!
- I have never really, in all of my 40+ years, never been hungry. Oh yah, I have missed a meal here or there or really wanted a snack but have never really been hungry like I was past weekend. This was one of the most amazing things to realize. We all say that we are starving and that we can’t wait to eat but do any of us really know what that means? I now have a greater understanding of this. Was I starving. No way. I guess that takes weeks to happen but I sure was hungrier than I have ever been before.
- I have more compassion than I give myself credit for. If I didn’t care about childhood hunger there is no way I could have completed this challenge. I always consider myself to be pretty selfish and make sure that I look out for myself and my family first but this showed me that there is a bit more to that.
- I have an inner strength that I rarely use. I used it this weekend and there were times that it caught me by surprise. I wanted food and at times there seemed like no logical reason for me not to have it. Some of the arguments I had with myself were – no one would know, just a little taste, I’ve gone this far so that is good enough etc. But I resisted each and every time.
- The final thing that I walk away with from this weekend is the knowledge that NO CHILD SHOULD EVER HAVE TO BE HUNGRY. It makes no difference why the child is hungry. Maybe the food stamps didn’t go as far as they could or should have, maybe the family can’t qualify for food stamps or public assistance, maybe the money just wasn’t there this month, maybe someone in the family is ill, maybe …and it can go on and on but in the end it really doesn’t matter. No child should feel how I felt last weekend. Remember it is not the child's fault and they are lacking the choice. I was hungry but that was the least of it. I was tired, so very, very tired and had no energy. I was cranky and short tempered. I was unable to focus or concentrate on even the simplest of tasks (I had to get my daughter to start figuring for me how long it had been since I had eaten. Simple math was a challenge). A child who is hungry is gong to have disciplinary and academic problems. If someone had told me that Monday morning I was going to get up and have PE that day or have to write a math test I would not have been very happy about it and would not have excelled at all. But I think that biggest thing was that I was my thoughts were all consumed with food. When I was going to get some next, what it was going to be, where I was going to eat it, what food I was missing the most, how happy I was going to be when I had it. I’m telling you not eating food makes you think about food all the time!!!
What can we do to make a difference and change this so that no child ever has to go hungry? Well that was one of the reasons that I did this hunger challenge. CCMI has a solution. They are running a backpack program where children who qualify by being on the free and reduced lunch program are given a backpack with enough food to get them through the weekend. Awesome huh? Sad thing is that out of 100 schools in our district they only have the funding right now to help 3. I bet if you looked there is a similar program in your community. Donate to the program. If your area doesn't have one and you would still like to help a child who is hungry you can donate to CCMI through here.
I will leave you with a recipe for strawberry ice cream! Over the weekend my family got me my belated birthday present…an ice cream maker!!! How lucky are they, oops I meant me, really I did!!! First recipe I made was for chocolate ice cream. I made that Sunday and I couldn’t even taste it until Monday morning!!! But boy was it ever good!!! Youngest daughter though loves strawberry so I made her some yesterday. Delicious.
Strawberry Ice Cream
1 pint ripe strawberries (hulled and sliced)
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
- In a small bowl mix the strawberries with the lemon and the 1/3 cup of sugar. Allow to sit at room temperature and macerate for about 2 hrs.
- In a medium bowl mix whisk the 2/3 cup of sugar with whole milk until the sugar is dissolved (about 1-2 min). Stir in the heavy cream as well as some of the juice from the berries and the vanilla.
- Follow the directions for your ice cream maker.
- Add the strawberries in the remaining 5 minutes and then freeze until ready to use or enjoy!
I am really loving this ice cream maker so look for some more exciting recipes to come…