Monday was World Hunger Day. I was unable to participate in the Central Dallas Ministries' challenge to "share in the pain of my neighbors who must daily struggle with hunger" on Monday so I committed to a different day...yesterday.
I realize people in poverty don't get to choose the day they have to deal with hunger like I did, but even though mine was calculated around my schedule it was important to me to "share in that pain" by fasting for the full three meals.
How did it go?
As my stomach growled while making my morning pot of coffee, I kept wanting to reach for one of my homemade blueberry muffins. My instinct was to eat. I had to keep reminding myself that there was nothing to eat (at least not for that day). I decided to drink more than my usual 2 cups of coffee. I figured coffee is free in most businesses, has some flavor, and could be used as my filler during the day.
Lunch was going to be a little more difficult. I had heard my co-workers planning a pizza party. Though it was a free pizza party, I thought about how many things like that aren't free. Most times everyone is asked to chip in a few bucks. What if I didn't have those few bucks? Or what if I had a few bucks but knew I needed to save that money to put toward a bill or to buy food for my household later? I wouldn't want to be in a situation where people took pity on me and paid my portion. Nor would I want them to feel sorry for me because I wasn't eating.
I began to strategize ways to avoid the lunch so I didn't feel uncomfortable while I was there.
I'm not sure if the pizza party actually happened. I knew they were planning it, but I didn't get the final word on it so I didn't call to ask. By avoiding the situation I could always claim ignorance later and explain that I never got the final word on time and place.
I was happy to have meetings planned all day. I was hoping the meetings would keep me busy enough that I wouldn't have time to think about eating. I thought about how difficult it would be to sit at a desk (or school) all day trying to work and feeling my stomach growl.
I found some spiced tea at work. It was warm and somewhat satisfying. I drank a bottle of water, but I wanted/needed some substance. I needed some flavor. I drank a diet coke. Sodas usually fill me up for a while.
By about 8:00 as I was heading home, I kept thinking to myself, "Ok. I've experienced. I get it. People are hungry. I'll just go ahead and eat dinner and still donate the money." But I wanted to force myself through.
When I got home, I suppose I cheated a little. I made a cup of hot chocolate...with milk. I thought about the fact that not all people have milk in their refrigerator...nor do they probably have hot chocolate sitting around. But I also thought about the fact that people without money often make and eat whatever they have available. They purchase cheap foods that store well. Cheap foods that store well and are easily accessibly are usually processed items like chips, ramen noodles, canned soups. Things that are filling, but not necessarily nutritional. Things like my hot chocolate.
As I tried to write this blog around 10:45 last night, my hunger kept shifting my focus. Even though I pretty much knew what I wanted to say, it wasn't working. I was tired and I wanted the hunger to go away. Maybe I could have pressed on with just one of the factors, but with both of them working against me I decided I'd just go on to bed. I knew that would make the hunger pains go away.
The problem, though, is that I knew I could wake up the next morning and my cabinets would be full and I would be able to eat again. I'm guessing that magic doesn't happen overnight in most households.
I woke up this morning and my hunger had subsided. I wasn't ravenous. It was just another day. Yet, as I poured my cereal, in my mind I was thinking...I hadn't eaten in 24 hours so, now that I can, I'll pour myself an extra big bowl to make up for yesterday. I quickly realized how crazy that was. Pouring myself a double portion was not going to make my hunger go away from yesterday...nor was it going to make me any less hungry today.
I wondered if people who are forced to miss meals think like that--once something is available...especially if it's free food at an event or something...I wonder if they pile up their plate thinking some of the same thoughts that went through my mind...except maybe they don't think about how that large portion doesn't make the hunger go away forever.
I don't know what people think. I don't know how children feel. The only time I've ever been hungry for a long period of time was by choice. I'm glad I did it, but I also realize that...
Poor people don't have that luxury.