Everyone Needs to Eat -- Entry for January 29, 2008

My siblings and I grew up in relative poverty. We often moved with our parents to various migrant camps and housing so they could pick whatever vegetable or fruit was ready for harvesting. We lived in places that had outhouses and no indoor plumbing, and others that were miles from the nearest city. It would be easy for me to romanticize this period of my life, but it was not romantic. It was hard. We finally stopped moving when I was in 3rd grade.

Despite our limited means, we rarely knew hunger. My mother is a very resourceful woman. While we were migrants, we had the fields of vegetables to eat,and when we lived in rural places like the northern border of Washington state, my stepfather would hunt for live game. When we settled down in Santa Maria, CA, my mother changed tactics. When we did not have enough money to buy groceries, we would wake up before dawn to search for cans. I can remember those mornings and her starting up the Ford Ranchero so clearly. There is a different feeling to a house before dawn. We would pile into the truck and hit all the major dumpsters in our neighborhood and beyond. To the Lucky's Supermarket (now a discount mall), to the empty lot behind Wimpy's Liquor and across the street from Taco Bell, to the dumpsters near my classmate Theresa V.'s house. Sometimes my mother would stand in the dumpster and throw cans out to us that we would crush and toss in the back of the truck, other times we would all root around in the trash to find them.

My feelings about the enterprise were always mixed and volatile. I hated doing it. I was so afraid that someone I knew would see us and thus plunge my already absimal schoolyard status even lower. I would not only be the stuttering, loner, nerd, but the stuttering, loner, nerd who digs through other peoples' trash. But I was also proud of my mother. We would fill the back of the truck and get $30 to 40 dollars for our efforts -- enough to buy staples like rice, beans, and flour to make tortillas. We always had full dinners.

So when I read this article about the poor in Haiti, I remembered my mother, digging for cans, and growing up poor. There was no comparison. The very poor in Haiti eat a mud cookie made of dirt, salt and vegetable shortening. So many eat these "cookies" 3 times a day. I have never been this poor. My children will never be this poor. I want to help so bad. I wish I could send my food over there to help the girl Charlene in the article. They cannot go and collect cans like we did.

Please visit this The Hunger Site and click on the Big "CLICK TO GIVE" icon, or the link following my blog. Sponsors of the site donate the equivalent of 1 cup of food for each click. Add it to your favorites and when you are bored, sit there clicking for a few minutes. It will help so many people. If you want some alarming statistics on how much food is wasted in North America and Europe, visit stopthehunger.com, with the references included.


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