Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What I Was Able to Learn Last Weekend…(or what I learnt or learned last weekend) and a recipe!

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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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…

As Always…

Happy Entertaining!!!



Maria said...

You are amazing!! I can't say it enough and the ice cream looks fantastic!

toontz said...

Good for you, Judy! Nothing like ice cream to celebrate a job well done.

Patsyk said...

Judy - you raised awareness about a problem many people didn't know existed. It's great that money was raised, hopefully it will continue to come in so that more schools can be a part of the backpack program.

Great gift, and that ice cream looks amazing!

Melissa said...

Awesome job, Judy. You are truly strong and inspiring!

I will go check out the CCMI page to donate. You go enjoy some more ice cream. :)

Bob said...

Good job! Being really hungry is very unpleasant, I've been there a couple times. I had a period of my life where I was intensely poor and sometimes couldn't afford food (I think the longest I ever went without was 3 days) so I know what it's like. I don't think I would want to do it again by choice, even for such a good cause.

Jeff said...

My dad volunteers at the local food bank and I have helped him a couple times and I am constantly amazed. There are the people you know do not have money for food and are absolutely thankful for everything they get. Then there are those who are just out to exploit the system and are constantly trying to get extra food because they deserve it.

However, with kids it is a different story. Thankfully there is the backpack program here and it is starting to get a good running start from local businesses and people being aware.

I commend your efforts to understand what it really feels like because I never have. I get hungry if I don't have dinner before going to bed. However, the next morning I know bacon and eggs are in the fridge ready to go.

Unknown said...

Judy, Thank you for partisipating and posting this. I am from Florida (Tampa Bay area) and this is a very real and scary reality for so many kids. So much money is spent (wasted) on so much crap that it is unbelievable that money can not be found for something like FOOD for children.

Deeba PAB said...

WAY TO GO Judy. Well done indeed, & well written too. Never easy to put such deep feelings into words, but you've done it. It's a tough world this-so much disparity, that it hurts! I think we've all got this inner person that should be pushed once in a while.
As for the ROCKS!! Just fabulous!

Amanda said...

I love making ice cream and this looks awesome!

Peter M said...

Your resolve is amazing. Although I fast for Greeks still eat...I would have refused this challenge.

This had to have been difficult, being hungry, hearing your kids nag about hunger but in the end, a valuable lesson.

To all, cherish the food that is put on the table and better yet...invite a friend over!

PS...that ice cream rocks...must have that ice cream maker too!

s. stockwell said...

Thanks for the heart felt message and the ice cream. We will cook something extra and take it to a shelter here in your honor. best, s

sj said...

Thank you Judy... you are how I got involved with this challenge and I am so glad I did. I learned much and took away from it things so valuable. You rock lady... thank you for all you do. *hugs*

Anonymous said...

Great post to open everyones eyes to what we all should be aware of and actively doing something about.
The ice creams is a great finish.

Janet_Gourmet Traveller 88 said...

Very meaning of what you did! I have made ice cream just a few days ago for the very first time, also made chocolate flavor but no ice cream maker. So nice you got it as a b'day present. Your strawberry ice cream sounds so great, so many strawberries, I have to try it too!

Ivy said...

Congratulations Judy doing this for a worthy cause. Not a lot of people would do this and it really isn't easy not to eat for two days.

Thistlemoon said...

Wow Judy! What an inspired post. I am so proud of you for really going out there and raising awareness for a casue you believe so much in. I am impressed with you beyong belief. I think you did an amazing thing!!! Way to go my friend! It is good to see that your efforts really went a long way!

Brenda Campbell said...

You are an amazing person and so are those who did this challenge with you. The ice cream looks wonderful! Way to go to be such a good humanitarian and way to go on the fundraising!

RecipeGirl said...

I'm so proud of you... to have set out to do it and actually have been able to do it... you're amazing. I can imagine how tough it must have been to prepare your family their meals, etc. and not eat any of it. Strong, determined woman you are! You sure did a lot to raise awareness of this issue. I commend you! Congrats on all of the $ you were able to raise too!