I spend a great deal of my professional life talking about psychological trauma and childhood maltreatment and the impact this has on brain development, learning and mental health.  I often quote the statistic that, in the United States, by the time a young person turns 18, 1 out of 6 boys and 1 out of 4 girls will have been the recipient of unwanted sexual contact.  That’s sobering.

What is also sobering and what is another kind of developmental trauma is hunger.  I grew up thinking that famines happened in faraway places like Africa, not really aware that people go hungry right here in the U.S.  In fact, the sobering statistic is 1 out of 5 children (that’s 16 million) struggle with hunger.  I’ll say it again, one out of five.  Whoa.

Moreover, millions of Americans who participate in the nation’s food stamp program are limited to an average of $3 to $4 per person each day to supplement their food budget.  Additionally, the government subsidizes products like soy beans, wheat and corn instead of fresh produce so the most affordable food is often the unhealthiest.

Let’s break that down a bit more, shall we?  I have a family of four.  That would mean, at the most, we’d have $16 a day for our food budget.  A day.  All three meals.  Let me tell you, $16 wouldn’t even buy us enough fresh vegetables to last one meal, let alone three.

Can you imagine?

This is not ok.  I’ve written before about my anger over how expensive fresh food is.  Now, there’s another bit of media bringing it to the forefront.  Click below.

A Place at the Table.

What can we do?  Well, for starters, we can contact our politicians.  Click here to take 30 seconds to send a letter to congress about this issue.  See the movie.  Talk about it with friends.  Volunteer at your local food bank. Give to your local food pantry.  Educate yourself.

If you’re looking for a budget friendly recipe, here you go.  It’s from the January/February 2013 issue of Vegetarian Times.  I’ve made it quite often and it’s delicious.  I never really thought before about how expensive or inexpensive it might be but when I was at the grocery store the other day, I took a few shots to try to figure it out.

Spaghetti with Bok Choy, Poached Egg and Romano Cheese


1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

8 cups of thinly sliced bok choy (about 1 lb) (I’ve used baby bok choy as well)

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

pinch of red pepper flakes

5 cloves of garlic, minced (5 teaspoons)

1 cup vegetable or chicken broth

4 large eggs

1/2 lb whole wheat spaghetti

2 oz grated romano cheese


First, go shopping for your ingredients.  As I was doing this, I realized just how little $16 is when you’re looking at fresh food.  photo 4

photo 3photo 2photo 1Almost $13 down and that’s not including the rest of the ingredients!  On the other hand, These would make multiple meals.  Still, not really enough money, that $16.

So, once you’ve shopped, gather all your ingredients, boil some water so you can cook your pasta and get to chopping.  Oh, and cook your pasta.

Chop your bok choy and pepper.  Mince your garlic.  In a large saute pan, heat the oil and then add the bok choy, pepper and pepper flakes.  Saute over medium heat for about 8 minutes or until the veggies look golden.


Add the garlic and then the broth.  Let it simmer over medium-low heat for about 3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Poach your eggs.  I have a special pan for this.  I inherited it from my grandmother.

IMG_4915Eggs go in the top part, water goes underneath and the eggs gently poach.

IMG_4917Drain your pasta and add it into the skillet with the veggies.

IMG_4916Toss it together and then dish it out into bowls.  Should make about four servings.

Place the poached egg on top.

IMG_4919Sprinkle with cheese and dig in….


1 thought on “Hunger

  1. Before I talk about the hunger statistics… you have a special pan to poach eggs??? Jealous.
    So hunger in America is real, and frightening. The Mayor of Newark lived on food stamps for a week, and he was astounded at how little that subsidy went. Michele Obama talks about “food deserts”, which are areas, mostly urban, or deep rural poor, where the availability of fresh, healthy food is scarce. Anyone can make mac and cheese, and every once in a while, mac and cheese is fine (with some veggies on the side, of course). But every night, because it’s generally super cheap and available in any corner store, will take a toll on a person’s body and energy levels. Food should not be so expensive.

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