There was a glint in her eye. I spotted her in the food distribution line in the South Bronx picking up a bag of onions, heading down to get her carrots. I could see her mind working, planning what she would do with the days offering: onions, carrots, and corn. Carrots were perfect. She could cook with those and make carrot juice for the children to drink. The onions would go well with whatever meat was on sale. Corn, well that was a special treat. It was in season like all the produce her family eats.
Cynthia Callwood works as a nurse at a nursing home; two 8 hour shifts a day, every weekend. She could work more, but she and her husband want to make sure someone is always home with their 4 children. This decision puts this family into that group known as food insecure. After the expenses are paid: mortgage, clothing, utilities, there isn’t enough money to put the food they need on the table. She has figured out how to supplement what they can buy: During the school year, her children get breakfast and lunch at the school. During the summer, her school does not provide any meals. Cynthia knows the schedule of the food pantries and the keeps an eye out for distributions from groups like City Harvest, a NYC program that collects fresh produce from stores and restaurants to distribute to those in need. She reads the food store circulars and only buys foods that are on sale. And she has a backyard garden full of tomato plants, beets, and greens.
“What about fast food?” I ask her. “Isn’t that a cheap option?”
“Not for my children” she says.” I want my children to eat healthy food. No sodas in our house, either.”
In America, with 1 out of 4 children in a food-insecure household, people like Cynthia are figuring out how to make it work. Living on the edge, living as an inspiration to others.
Today, ABC News is featuring special coverage on the problem of hunger in the United States. We kicked off the “Hunger at Home” with a Twitter chat yesterday, which you can view and contribute to here. You can also follow ABC News’ coverage at our “Hunger at Home” special section. As always, please feel free to share your personal stories – we want to hear your voice!