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A Message from Susan Ogborn

Happy New Year!

It’s the season of resolutions – pay off the credit cards, actually exercise, be more patient with people who bug you. As I write this letter, I just ate my 4000th Christmas cookie and ordered “just one more” present on-line. Clearly I will be making some of these resolutions myself, and keeping them I hope, when you read this.

This cookie I’m enjoying and the macaroni and cheese I’m dreaming of for dinner, remind me of a question many people ask us: how if we have such an obesity problem in this country, can we also have a hunger problem? Don’t poor people just need to know how to cook instead of using their food stamps on junk? Don’t they just need to buy more fruits and vegetables instead of pizza and chips?

When we dig into that thought, several relevant points jump out. First, many poor people cook far better than I do, because they’ve learned from mothers, grandmothers, and aunts how to stretch food budgets until they squeak and they know how to make meals out of things that others of us ignore or throw away, like greens and cactus leaves.

Second, most people in our area who are poor are also working and have the same exhaustion at the end of the day as everyone. Picking kids up from school and day care can lead to cranky, whining cars full of people and that can make anyone stop at the fastest food place you can find in order to chill everyone out with a little fun and a quick bite.

Third, and probably most important, cheap food is generally less expensive than healthy food. My cookie and macaroni are inexpensive and filled with fat and sugar. I am not a nutritionist, but those who are will tell you that healthy bodies need protein and vitamins in greater abundance than we need fats and sugars. Protein and produce are expensive: today a gallon of milk is $ 4.05; a 12-pack of pop is $3.33. A head of broccoli is $3.16 and a box of macaroni and cheese is $.76. Fat and sugar are also “comfort foods.” If you are having a bad day, do you want to go home and have a salad or would you rather eat a pizza and a quart of ice cream? Living in poverty makes every day stressful and comfort food is ….well, comforting.

So we learn and teach and live and love and make resolutions to be less judgmental. Thank you for your resolutions to help our hungry neighbors be fed and nourished, today and all year.

Susan E. Ogborn
President & CEO

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