Forty-nine million people in the U.S. – one in four children – don’t know where their next meal is coming from. If that isn’t a frightening, infuriating, confusing piece of data, I don’t know what is.
Today I’m donating my post to building awareness about hunger in America, and inspire you to get involved.
The above stat came from a new film called A Place at the Table, created by the makers of Food Inc. It’s got a star studded cast of actors, chefs and political personalities all trying to send a message. I haven’t seen it, but I plan to soon. So what can we do about this?
1. Educate yourself about the issue by watching the movie. Here’s the trailer:
There will be a local screening of the film in Nashville at Downtown Presbyterian Church (154 5th Ave N) Monday, April 29, 6 p.m. (begin film at 6:30 p.m.). Afterward, there will be a panel discussion so you can learn how to get more involved. I know I’m excited about that.
2. Send a letter to congress.
Click this link to take 30 seconds and send an already-written form letter to congress asking them to support anti-hunger legislation. The more letters we submit, the better!
3. Think about what you would do if you were hungry.
Millions of Americans who participate in the nation’s food stamp program are limited to an average of $3 or $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. With this in mind, I set to work thinking about what I would do if I were hungry.
The first thing my mind went to is the WIC certification at the grocery store. Have you seen the WIC tags in the canned bean aisle, for example?
WIC stands for “women, infants and children” and is a USDA program whose goal is to “safeguard the health of low-income women, infants, and children who are at nutrition risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating, and referrals to health care.”
WIC foods are chosen because they contain the nutrients that women, infants and children need during pregnancy, breastfeeding, infancy, and early childhood. They’re basic foods that are nutritionally dense and very affordable. Examples of WIC foods include milk, cheese, eggs, peanut butter, dried beans/peas, canned beans, whole grain bread, tortillas, brown rice, canned fish, infant formula, infant cereal, tofu, soy milk, and fruits and vegetables.
For my recipe today, I chose ingredients that would qualify for WIC assistance.
Sweet potato and black bean tacos are a mainstay around our house. The ingredients are fairly shelf stable so you may just have them on hand. They’re also full of nutrients and protein, low in fat, and I think, delicious.
Sweet Potato Black Bean Tacos
Yield: 2 servings
These tacos are good with just the main ingredients. Or, you can jazz it up with a squeeze of lime, avocado, and maybe some sour cream.
Drizzle of oil (I use EVOO but vegetable oil would also work)
1 onion, chopped
1 sweet potato, diced (peel left on)
1/2 cup shredded or chopped carrots
1 tablespoon each chili powder, cumin and ground coriander
4 whole wheat tortillas
Optional: avocado, plain greek yogurt or sour cream, chopped cilantro, chopped spinach, squeeze of lime
Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add onion, sweet potato and carrots and saute, stirring several times, until sweet potato begins to soften and is browned in parts, about 10 minutes. Cover and cook for an additional 5-6 minutes or until sweet potato is cooked through.
Move sweet potato/onion mixture to side and add spices. Saute directly on skillet for a few minutes to toast. Then add black beans (do not rinse) and stir to combine. Simmer 5-6 minutes until mixture thickens slightly.
Serve in tortillas with optional toppings if desired.