Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Food Challenge Day 4

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen

Gratitude for what I have makes me think about those who have less. Research shows that we don't respond as well to big numbers as we do to individual stories. But here are some big numbers anyway. In 2011 in Massachusetts, 700,000 people were struggling to put food on the table, and a whopping 10.8 percent of households were food insecure. Throughout the United States, 50.1 million Americans lived in food insecure households, which included 16.7 million children. That was 14.9 percent of all U.S. households! Many of the people in these households were more than insecure about where their next meal would come from, they were just plain hungry. 
I don't have to worry about where my next meal is coming from. But more than 1 in 10 people in Massachusetts and 1 in 7 in the United States worry about this every day.
These are big numbers, and our human brains do not respond well to such information. This is also a chronic, on-going situation, and it is easy to grow immune to it, especially since it is a problem that is so hard to solve. It doesn't get big press like a hurricane or a flood. It is always just there, in the background - unless, of course, you are living it, in which case it is always in the foreground.
So we do a food drive on the High Holidays and are glad to provide meals to hungry children to help them grow better. We pick wild cranberries, nourishing our spirits with the gift of produce from the Earth and being outdoors together for a picnic when we wouldn't normally do so, with a calming view of the reservoir beside us all the entire time. We write a check to help out those in need in a crisis like Sandy.
We put our finger in the dike.
And then we sit down to a delicious meal. We overeat. We throw away excess food or food that went bad waiting in our refrigerators to be eaten.

Hunger is real, and it is in our backyard. 

Is gratitude just a feeling, or is it a motivator? 
I invite your thoughts.

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