The Hungry

For Jade’s prompt on dVerse Poets Pub – sustenance. also for Poets United Midweek Motif – Truth.

The Hungry
“There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

The truth of the matter is: People are hungry. The people start lining up at 9:00 a.m. for the noon time meal. During the summer, children and babies are in the line with their adults. All ethnicities, male and female, young and old. They have one thing in common – they are hungry. We start cooking at 9:00 a.m. We have a menu based on what is available. Some days the food is plentiful, others it is pieced out in soups with starches. In a world of poverty, none of them can afford to be a on a special diet. You will find few vegetarians, few who don’t eat carbs, few who don’t not eat anything that is put in front of them. They don’t count calories or cholesterol, sugar content, grams of fat. They are hungry and eat what they are given with gratitude. Hunger is a real problem in this wealthy country of ours. Children go to bed hungry, probably within a mile of your home. Adults get a meal and divide it among several children. The elderly slowly starve. Special diets are for those who can afford them.

I work several days a week volunteering at a soup kitchen in my area. We beg donations from restaurants and stores – usually food that you would throw out. We recycle food from restaurants and the food given from stores – usually almost turned meat, vegetables on the verge of going bad, stale baked goods. We save the donated canned food to put up into bags and send home with families. I hear of people eating special diets either for vanity or health and I must admit, I get angry. Must be nice to be able to keep yourself healthy so you can get good reports from the doctor. Try going on meal a day or every other day. Intermittent fasting? Why not daily fasting because you haven’t any food? After we serve the people their meal, we usually walk out and talk to them, get to know them, know that they are out of work or that their meagre social security barely pays the bills with very little left over to buy food. Their plate of food or bowl of soup looks like heaven to them.
hunger in this country
is real – people die of hunger –
some of us try to help

40 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Glenn A. Buttkus
    Oct 01, 2019 @ 18:19:55

    This certainly is the other end of the sustenance spectrum; another terrific haibun, and personal sharing. As a Chef, you probably get creative with “what’s available”. Hugs.

    Reply

    • kanzensakura
      Oct 01, 2019 @ 18:54:30

      Hugs back to you. I try my best Glenn. Another retired chef is on duty as well at the soup kitchen. We collaborate a lot.

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  2. msjadeli
    Oct 01, 2019 @ 18:25:29

    Toni, I believe everything you said. In my work with juvenile probation, I became convinced that poverty drives almost all social “ills.” It is a web of need that starts with the basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter. I’ve taken families to food trucks and see what they have to choose from, and it isn’t like going to the grocery store. I have seen older siblings walk miles with their backpacks to get to the food truck so the family can eat. What has been a true blessing for kids at school and in summer youth programs are that the kids are fed at least 2 sometimes 3 meals a day. With Betsy DeVos at the helm, trying to hamstring special education supports, I fear these programs will be lost.

    Reply

    • kanzensakura
      Oct 01, 2019 @ 18:53:24

      We have a summer feeding program as well. The food that these people get from the trucks – digging around in piles of half rotted potatoes – People shouldn’t have to live like that. Kids walk the circuit of Bible Schools with their small siblings in their arms or on their backs to take advantage of the “snacks” (usually kool aid and cookies) and go to every one that is within 5 miles of where they live. It is a shame.

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      • msjadeli
        Oct 01, 2019 @ 19:31:36

        Yes, I noticed a lot of empty calories and second-rate gleanings on the produce also. I’m sure the donators of these inferior goods claim top dollar tax write-offs for it also. Not to bite the hand that feeds, but when I see a profit motive in the giver, it seems tainted. There must be a better way.

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  3. Beverly Crawford
    Oct 01, 2019 @ 19:44:28

    Such a sobering write. Sadly we have become a nation of excess … in our food, our homes, our “stuff”. We all should have to work in a soup kitchen one day a week!

    Reply

  4. Frank Hubeny
    Oct 01, 2019 @ 19:48:18

    Actually I am on one of those diets you mention, although it is one I created myself. The cost of the food is about a quarter or less than what I used to spend.

    Reply

    • kanzensakura
      Oct 01, 2019 @ 20:07:48

      Which is more than these people have to spend

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      • Frank Hubeny
        Oct 01, 2019 @ 20:12:23

        True, but now I wish I didn’t eat all junk even if it were free.

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        • kanzensakura
          Oct 01, 2019 @ 20:18:17

          Aren’t you glad you have such a choice to make? Aren’t you glad you have sweet potatoes insyead of having to pick out yhe least rotten potatoes from a bin? I hope you nevet experience hunger and are grateful for “junk” to feed yourself and your family even if it is “free”.

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  5. Grace
    Oct 01, 2019 @ 20:20:45

    That is so good and kind of you Toni. Hunger is a pressing problem in our big city too.

    Reply

    • kanzensakura
      Oct 01, 2019 @ 20:27:52

      It is rampant everywhere Grace. I get so angry at people and their elitist diets. Wr are forced to feed people mainky carbs. We can’t feed them no sugar, no eggs, no fat, no blah blah blah because we have so little to work with We spend an hour sorting through potatoes for the lesast rotten ones which we have to cut off the rotten spots, we have to make sandwiches with white bread and processed cheese. If regular people had to eat what we feed these people everyday, they would choke gheir entitled selfs to death

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  6. Shawna
    Oct 01, 2019 @ 21:36:16

    This is so powerful; you have me crying and feeling ashamed at the abundance in my refrigerator and on my shelves … and grateful for my fat rolls and full tummy. Thank you for writing this.

    Reply

  7. Christine Bolton
    Oct 01, 2019 @ 22:08:18

    This touched a nerve with me. Nothing saddens me more than people going hungry, especially children. My hat is off to you for your wonderful volunteer work.

    Reply

  8. kim881
    Oct 02, 2019 @ 03:28:48

    As a food lover, maker and provider, Toni, you’ve experienced the whole spectrum. In this day and age, in wealthy countries such as ours, hunger should not exist. But it does. I see it in schools, where some parents can’t afford to give their children breakfast; the lack of concentration is astounding. What will happen to the poor and hungry in the future, if food runs out due to climate change? I dread to think.

    Reply

    • kanzensakura
      Oct 02, 2019 @ 06:42:53

      As do I Kim. The everyday, get up go to bed hungry is something that we find incomprehensible, but t does exist. Why can we not feed our children ?

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  9. Linda Lee Lyberg
    Oct 02, 2019 @ 10:05:00

    Bless you Toni. This is a heart wrenching Haibun.

    Reply

  10. susanstoo
    Oct 02, 2019 @ 13:05:41

    How i admire your choice to work with sustenance in retirement! Thank you for snapshot of the work, of the moment you go to sit with and meet those you are feeding. A fine Haibun and urgent awareness.

    Reply

  11. Sherry Marr
    Oct 02, 2019 @ 15:06:44

    Bless you for caring and for being boots on the ground to help those who need it most.

    Reply

  12. rivrvlogr
    Oct 02, 2019 @ 15:41:09

    You are to be commended for your efforts.

    Reply

  13. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Oct 02, 2019 @ 16:08:06

    I find it deeply disturbing that you have to rely on people giving you food… somehow I think it shouldn’t be needed in a rich country…

    Reply

    • kanzensakura
      Oct 02, 2019 @ 16:14:38

      The food bank is on a budget. We rely on donations of both money and food. We are not government subsidized. Not everything in this country relies on the government. I would find it deeply disturbing if people would not want to help, to cut down on food wastage by stores and restaurants. It is a private organization, not government. There are hundreds of food banks in this country thzt are private. The government does not pay for everything. The US is also bigger than Sweden

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    • kanzensakura
      Oct 02, 2019 @ 16:21:54

      I also undrrstand that there is hunger and homeless in. Sweden, that approximately ,35 % of people in Sweden are homeless or likng in shelters. It seems to have become an invisible problem there. I am sure the government however feeds these people and provides housing for them

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      • Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
        Oct 02, 2019 @ 16:24:24

        We do have people living outside normal safety of society… especially those coming from former Eastern Europe to beg that probably go hungry. I hope we provide food at least. Housing can be harder here.

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        • kanzensakura
          Oct 02, 2019 @ 16:33:09

          Unfortunately our current government is all about cutting the big budget. Programs that feed people are part of those cuts. We have to fend for ourselves mostly. Food cupboards provide food; these are mainly churches. Not all of our problems stem from immigrants altough our fearless leader would have us think so. I imagine not all of tbe homeless are immigrants either in your country. Outside the safety…not all people are protected by society although we like to pretend that they are. And infortunately not all people want to be “protected” by society. It is sad that mentally ill or others have fallen from that protrctiom either by choice or no fault of their own

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  14. Susie Clevenger
    Oct 02, 2019 @ 16:33:26

    Hunger doesn’t have time to question is it good for me…Thank you for your work with the hungry.

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    • kanzensakura
      Oct 02, 2019 @ 16:36:50

      Nope. You got that that. Poverty and hunger can’t decide to eat keto or vegan or vegetarian or no dairy. Poverty and hunger take what is offered and says thank you. It is the people I work with that are to be thanked.

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  15. purplepeninportland
    Oct 02, 2019 @ 20:14:58

    You are a truly caring person. We need more Tonis.

    Reply

    • kanzensakura
      Oct 02, 2019 @ 20:18:19

      Everybody can be a Toni. Thanks. I work with a great bunch of people. We meed more TedSammyDorisJohnJoshElizbethPatricias

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  16. oldegg
    Oct 03, 2019 @ 04:07:31

    How important it is to regularly remind people of this problem. It exists in many wealthy nations as well as poor. My guess is than many donations of foodstuff are given by people that know what poverty is like and that few donations are from rich people who are mostly blind to the situation.

    Reply

    • kanzensakura
      Oct 03, 2019 @ 06:27:25

      And amazingly, there are people in these rich countries who are totally unaware and that don’t get it. People who go on “special” diets and then say they spend less money on food. Duh.

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  17. jaerose37
    Oct 03, 2019 @ 04:50:51

    It is sobering to think that people go hungry in this world – thankfully people so as you still help and we should all be grateful for that

    Reply

  18. magicalmysticalteacher
    Oct 07, 2019 @ 13:42:52

    Sometimes the help we give seems so insignificant, but it always makes a difference. Always.

    Reply

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