Food insecurity, what do the two words mean if you live in Maine?
Well for starters, the first time I heard the expression “food insecurity” I did not think about not having enough or any. But where did the food come from and what was it sprayed with, how was it handled by field workers, in transport from field to my point of purchase, etc. I grew up on a Maine potato and grain farm and we had lean years but always ate well. With big vegetable truck gardens, an endless supply of potatoes and a root cellar stocked from dirt floor to over my head to draw from to make it close to home hands on foodstuffs. For true field to table, fruit orchard, poultry, beef, dairy critters to provide what went into the meal production.
Food insecurity is defined as …
In a state like Maine where farming is big, agriculture is all around us. Going hungry is harder to fathom. You can always glean fields, there is plenty of food harvested but lots more left behind to just rot into the ground. Help yourself, just ask the farmer and say thanks. Because more mechanized farm operations don’t get everything from the field that could be what’s for your breakfast, lunch, dinner. But it is not economical for the big scale farmer to go back and scour because hundreds of acres to harvest before frost sets in and that’s all she wrote.
Reduced quality, less variety adds to the food insecurity discussion to broaden the scope as defined by the USDA. Discomfort, weakness, illness with prolonged food insecurity is a cancer of a different type. Than the ones that attack certain organs or that like to spread and travel around the body like wildfire. That claim the lives of loved ones in our families and communities.
Do you worry about food running out and your cupboards being Old Mother Hubbard bare?
In cities, just in time grocery store stocking the shelves would mean havoc if trucking stopped for two or three days. Storms and weather disturbances bear this out as panic happens on the retail level.
Like a cold Maine winter challenges the wood pile supply when you have five cords stacked in the shed or filling your cellar but are chewing it up quicker than you planned.
Knowing you may not have enough fuel or food for your family to keep them warm or fed is what keeps a parent awake at night. When money is short, programs to take up the slack get over taxed, reduced or phased out altogether.
Food and shelter, safety are the biggest basic needs a person could have. Providing for your family, the young sprouts is a component of love as a good parent. Which everyone needs to feel important, to feel loved, worthwhile and have hope. Good food, in great supply is a wonderful basic staple. And can the locals in a small Maine community prepare it just so.
Anyone working in education knows the anxiety of kids skipping meals because there is nothing to to feast on.
And what it does to add to the distraction and dull the focus of the student needing the education. But the lack of energy or oomph. Just not feeling up to par because of sheer hunger. The week before a school vacation are happy times for those heading out on a tropical sea cruise or a visit to see Mickey or Minnie in the sunny south. But when your Maine home is cold, there is no food and the atmosphere is stressed because of missing parents or ones that fight, there is nothing to look forward to when a vacation arrives. School is the routine, with food injected to round out the day in the classrooms and roaming the halls in the educational shuffle from the gym to the library and hopefully not detention.
The days heading out of a school vacation back into the three “R’s” in the classroom are hard on educators and students too.
Because the adjustment from a week, a holiday that was not fun with no food, cold and harsh conditions at home. All that follows the unhappy student back into the rows of desks with the black board upfront and the apple on the desk. The hungry child living in poverty conditions did not get a real vacation and has to begin feeding the mind and nourishing the soul to develop skills to be self sufficient outside of the educational bubble.Have you ever run into someone that was poor growing up and did not like it, carries a chip on their shoulder of bitterness and regret? It isn’t fair for a kid to be hungry, to go without food.
Or I know of someone that knew hunger growing up and missed meals, went to bed hungry and who now works at a food pantry because of it. To make sure less kids and older know that same feeling down in your gut of going without food or good nutrition.
Do you support a cause like backpack for kids in your local area?
Who fill up the empty sack to have bus drivers distribute to households that lack much in the cupboards at no fault of the child in those homes.
During the school year, backpacks with non-perishable items are filled up on a Wednesday, taken to the school on Friday, and head home with the children to be returned via the child turning in the empty bags on Monday.
Everything repeated the following Wednesday which is fine as long as the yellow school bus is on its run. Reducing hunger for children is so important to their education, esteem, general well being. Summer away from school’s dinner bell ringing or if the back pack support team needs a break in the food line bucket brigade, kids go hungry of the good stuff, any foodstuff and on their own in fending for themselves.
Low cost or free meals that are nutritious and balanced are provided to over 31 million American students in our country.
The US Census ties poverty levels to the number of reduced or free hot lunches or breakfasts provided to students in an area economically challenged. Hunger is one of the leading obstacles to education in our country.But the argument parents always used about finish your plate and remember all those starving kids halfway around the World.
When you scan a row of kids at a concert or at a sporting event or out in the community and obesity seems to be another dietary problem. Not because of not enough food but poor eating habits of the wrong items or too much that adds the weight and affects the health of the youngster. Who is carrying around the physical weight beyond the design of his or her body along with the self esteem issues for being large.
Part of fixing health care and making it more affordable starts in good eating habits as a kid.
Obesity affects genetics, alters the behaviors and attitudes of kids that get less and less exercise the larger they become. A healthy diet, a child physically active is happier and not eating out of boredom or self medicating to band-aid a larger dietary wound.
Good diet, eating habits and nutritious food helps children grow strong, maintain a healthy weight throughout childhood. And leads to less burden on the expensive health care system because a healthier population does not depend on it so greatly.A harmony, a balance of energy goes into activity and calorie consumption. From the right foods and beverages to prevent excess weight gain.
Healthy eating, being physically active helps to prevent chronic diseases that are killers like type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Eating balanced meals, combined with exercise improves mental clarity and helps reduced mood swings. To stave off depression because of the poor self image from overeating, under exercising and being out of control with food consumption.
Did you or anyone grow up exposed to Maine farming?
Do you have a garden, is there space to have one where you live or does your community provide space to scratch the dirt, plant seeds to cultivate and nourish to get to the harvest stage?
Maine, lots of space and more are turning to homesteads, farmsteading because what is most important is missing on their dinner tables. Good food and Maine farming tie in with healthier lifestyles and being outdoors, working the land to be in better shape as the secondary gain. Maine farming agriculture numbers are up in more ways than one.
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