Tallahassee Summer Food Challenge 2015

When I choose to support a cause, I try to understand it as much as possible. That is why, when I read about the Summer Food Challenge which benefits America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend on Facebook, I immediately knew I had to do the “go without food for an entire day” option in addition to the “donate” option.

With a target date of June 18, I thought through which day would be best for my day without food. My thoughts included “make it a day when your workout schedule is light,” “make it a day when you can stay calm and limit your activity,” “make it a beneficial One Day Water Fast day,” and “make it a day free of food temptations.”

But …

Who am I kidding? My life doesn’t work that way!

I was kidding myself to think I could find a low-key, “calm” day! In addition, my day without food was time-limited. I knew I could pick right back up on my nutrition the next day (or, technically, at midnight). It was a novelty. For one out of every five Leon County residents (56,000 of our neighbors, 11,000 of whom are children), who are food insecure, hunger is no novelty. Nor is an abstract term like “food insecure” while accurate, a novelty. It is an imperfect term describing what they really are: hungry. Summer months are especially difficult, since children do not have access to breakfast or lunch programs at school.

I experienced a tiny fraction of how these people must feel:

When I ran four miles with nothing to eat before and no plan to have anything to eat afterwards.

Imagine you are a kid, showing up for school, and it’s time for p.e. or free play. 

Imagine not having the energy to run, climb, be active.

When I took my son through a drive through and smelled the tantalizing aromas of his food, knowing I could not partake.

Imagine you are a kid, seeing your peers filling their tummies, sometimes with “treats” like fries but other times with fresh produce, protein-filled foods, and plenty of hydration.

When I had to deal with the (usually) minor stresses of getting my elderly father-in-law up, fed, dressed, and driven to his physician’s office for an appointment, communicating clearly and calmly while complying with other people’s deadlines.

Imagine you are a kid, navigating through a society with all kinds of people, some nice, some mean, some who want something from you, some who want to be left alone.

Imagine needing a clear head to read cues and a stable blood sugar level to cope with the world around you.

Speaking of needing a “clear head,” when I decided to prepare and deliver a Toastmasters speech on the topic of the Summer Food Challenge that night … when I had to compose and deliver a ten-minute speech to a table full of people munching on chips, salsa, and Mexican food, convincing them to spend money (or time) on food for others instead of tacos for themselves.

Imagine you are a kid, expected to organize yourself and your schoolwork, to submit projects on time, to participate in class energetically, to stave off distraction in order to concentrate on your education.

After My Day Without Food:

I came away from my day without food empathizing more fully with the children (and adults) in our community who don’t know where their next meal is going to come from. I came away from my day without food imagining a community where children can play, learn, and live free of food insecurity, free of HUNGER.

Here’s How You Can Help:

If you are on Facebook, go to this link and click “going.”

If you want to feel what the food insecure members of our community experience, join me, Tallahassee Democrat Publisher Skip Foster, Tallahassee Police Department Chief Michael DeLeo, and State Representative Alan Williams in accepting the challenge of going a day without food (without endangering your own health, of course).  Pop in on the Summer Food Challenge Facebook page and let us know how it went.

Download a flier and post it at your work, church, or civic organization.

CONTRIBUTE FOOD OR FUNDS! This choice would have the most impact! Details:

  • Drop off food, cash, or checks made out to ASHBB (note “Fill a Truck”) to the Tallahassee Democrat at 277 N Magnolia Dr between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday – Thursday of this week (6/15/15-6/18/15).
  • Donate online via this link.
  • Drop food off to Target Copy at 635 W. Tennessee Street, and they will match your donation!
  • Tallahassee Summer Food Challenge 2015If you drop off to the Democrat on Thursday, 6/18, between noon and 7 p.m., you can participate in the community weigh-in at the on-site scale. (Let’s hope to exceed last year’s three ton mark!).
  • These are the most useful items: peanut butter, jelly, canned beans, canned tuna/chicken, rice, canned vegetables, pasta sauce, macaroni and cheese, soups, fruit juice, cookies, crackers, baby food/formula, condiments, and salad dressing.

One action you can take that helps people with food insecurity year-round is to run, walk, or cycle using the Charity Miles app and select Feeding America as your designated charity. For every mile you run or walk, Charity Miles will “sponsor” you, meaning they will donate a quarter for every mile run or walked, and a dime for every mile cycled. It’s that easy! For my four miles on Monday, I earned $1 for Feeding America, for something I would have been doing anyway (and, yeah, I posed after my run with a can of tuna on my head for added effect!).

Tallahassee Summer Food Challenge 2015

Tallahassee Summer Food Challenge 2015

Please thank AMWAT Moving Warehousing Storage and the other sponsors who are working together to make a difference:

Tallahassee Police Department

Tallahassee Democrat

WTXL Channel 27

The POD Advertising

Red Hills Broadcasting

Lamar Advertising Company

Target Copy Tallahassee

America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend

Impact Visual Media

Gandy Printers


Tallahassee Summer Food Challenge 2015

A Place at the Table (A Food Bloggers Against Hunger Post)

“So hungry”………raise your hand if your child (or you) has ever, in a moment of frustration because work obligations pressed too hard or service was slow or the milk in the fridge had gone sour……….said “I’m so hungry!”

For most of us, we aren’t technically that hungry. Our stomachs are grumbling, our blood sugar is plummeting, our patience is hitting bottom. But we are a few minutes, dollars, or miles away from a decent meal.

For millions of Americans participating in our nation’s food stamp program (SNAP), $3 to $4 per person per day is what they have to supplement their food budget.  In addition, the most affordable food is often the unhealthiest (some articles describing why this is the case can be found here and here.)

A few facts:

  • 16.2 million kids in America struggle with hunger. (Source: USDA Household Food Security in the United States)

  • 10.5 million kids eligible for free or reduced-price school breakfast do not get it. (Source: Food Research and Action Center, School Breakfast Scorecard)

  • Six out of 7 eligible kids do not get free summer meals. (Source: Food Research and Action Center “Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation: Summer Nutrition Status Report)

We bloggers* are banding together to post recipes today as part of a recipe roundup of budget-friendly recipes. I have scoured the interwebz today, thinking of the cans of tuna and chicken (and the jars of peanut butter) that I have deposited in our baskets at Holy Comforter each week, to be distributed each Saturday by our food pantry. My basic thought process when I am at the store is usually, “protein is good so I’ll do tuna (or chicken….or peanut butter).” But if I were the recipient, what could I do with the protein to make it last as long as possible and to have the best chance that my kids would like it?

A friend who delivers food as part of a service project every week said some of the considerations she faces are: a) the fact that she drops the bag at 8 a.m. and it often has to sit until the adult gets home from work, and b) in her experience kids are pretty averse to beans. As she and I (and a few other people on Twitter) were discussing options for “budget-friendly” recipes, tuna noodle casserole and other variations on “put the meat with pasta and throw in cream-of-something-soup” seemed to be the most common suggestion. For that reason, I will suggest something completely different, that is still budget-friendly and may be novel enough to appeal to kids: Baked-Potato Eggs!

Baked-Potato Eggs From Real Simple

Baked-Potato Eggs
From Real Simple

Here’s the recipe for Baked-Potato Eggs


  • 2  baking potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2  precooked turkey sausages, diced
  • 4  large eggs


Heat oven to 400° F. Scrub the potatoes and pierce each with the tines of a fork. Bake until fork-tender, about 45 minutes. Carefully cut each potato in half. Scoop out the insides and stir in the butter and cheese. Fold in the sausages. Spoon the mixture back into the potato halves, creating a hollow in each center. Break 1 egg into each hollow. Arrange on a baking sheet and cook 10 to 15 minutes or until set.

Serves 4

(This recipe is from Real Simple via Recipes.com)

Source: MorgueFile

An American School Lunch
(Source: Morguefile)

Now, where were we before we started salivating over the cheesy eggs over succulent baked potatoes? Oh yeah — we were at the fact that for some families, hunger is an ever-present fact of life. What can we do, together?

1. We can send a letter to congress asking them to support anti-hunger legislation. I   sent mine earlier today; it literally took less than a minute. Here’s the link.

2. We can watch A Place at the Table, which follow three American families affected by food insecurity. Here’s the trailer:

Dates for showings of A Place at the Table can be found via this link. It is also available via iTunes and Amazon.

I am hungry to give every American a place at a plentiful table. If you are too, please join me in taking action.

no kid hungry

*Ginormous caveat here – I can’t really claim to be a “food blogger,” even though I have done the occasional post about food. More like I’m a blogger who cares, who invited herself to be a “food blogger for a day”!