Today, along with more than 200 other food bloggers, I am devoting my post to the issue of food hunger in the USA. I do this not just because as a restaurant reviewer I am literally paid to eat, but for a reason that up until now I have shared with almost no one.
As a child, my parents struggled to put food on the table for me and my six siblings. A typical breakfast when I was five consisted of Saltine crackers smeared, barely, with butter, and coffee cut with evaporated milk because fresh milk was too costly. My siblings and I still joke about the ketchup sandwiches we had for lunch. We ate pasta at minimum three nights a week, often four, and often with only olive oil and garlic. The recipe at the end of this post pays homage to this.
Hunger in the USA
The statistics are staggering:
– 1 in 4 children don’t know where their next meal will come from
– 50 million American kids will go hungry tonight
– Food stamp recipients are allowed $4 a day. (What did you pay for your coffee on the way to work this morning?) And Congress is looking to cut back on food assistance programs!
To get some idea of the seriousness of the situation, check out this trailer for the film documentary ‘A Place at the Table.’ (It’s short and includes music by Mumford & Sons.) The film features Tom Colicchio, among other celebrities. If Tom thinks this is an important issue, don’t you?
(Photo credit: ZagatBuzz)
A Call to Action
Private sector programs and charities are not enough; policy change is required. Join Share Our Strength’s effort and send a letter to Congress today demanding action. I have.
PAT’S PASTA WITH BEANS
Why this recipe today? Well, my daughters – even the picky eater – happily ate it as children; it’s quick, cheap, easy to make, and utilizes inexpensive pantry staples; it’s delicious and reminds me of my Italian-American heritage.
1 can kidney beans, rinsed & drained
1 can chickpeas, rinsed & drained
1 clove garlic, chopped (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 35-ounce can whole Italian plum tomatoes, crushed by hand or chopped, liquid included
1 tablespoon olive oil (or more, enough to cover bottom of pan)
Salt, to taste
1 pound shell pasta, cooked according to directions
In a large skillet or wide-bottom pot saute garlic in olive oil over medium heat until garlic just begins to color, 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, oregano, and pepper and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer (still bubbling), for 5 minutes, or until tomatoes have lost their metallic taste. Add beans and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meantime, cook pasta. Drain and add to bean mixture and simmer, tossing gently, for 1 minute.
Serves 4 to 6.