Friday, May 30, 2008

Fill the Cup

A simple cup of porridge: Solidarity with our Hungry Brothers and Sisters Many in the hungry third world are serviced by charitable food organizations such as the World Food Programme. The WFP concentrates on feeding children at school. This encourages school attendance along with providing nutrition to give the children a fighting chance at a better future. WFP provides one cup of corn meal/soy meal porridge or beans and rice. If available a cup of milk is also provided. For many children this may be their only meal of the day. The recent food crisis resulting in the price of grains shooting up 50% to 75% means that organizations like WFP now must try to provide food with the same funding base but only having 1/2 to 1/3 the buying power. This means the food does not stretch like it did before and not all the needs can be met. If you would like to really know what it is like to live on one meal of porridge a day, try what I call the "48-Hour Fill the Cup" challenge. Below is a recipe for corn meal porridge. Try eating nothing but a single serving of this porridge once per day for 2 full days or 48 hours. I suggest 48 hours since this amount of time gives you not only head-knowledge but full-body knowledge of what it feels like to live on this amount of food. (If you have any type of medical condition that would be adversely affected, do not try this.) WFP is currently holding a "Fill the Cup" campaign to raise funds. You might even calculate the money you save on meals during your 48-hour challenge and donate that amount to the World Food Programme. Cornmeal Porridge, one serving recipe

  • Place 1 cup soy milk (I use vanilla flavored) in a pan over medium heat.
  • In a measuring cup add 1/2 cup cold water and 1/4 cup corn meal.
  • Soak the corn meal until water is fully absorbed and then add to the warming soy milk.
  • Stir until thickened and serve in a large mug.

Drink lots of water throughout the 48 hours, but don't eat anything but one bowl of porridge a day. I kept a journal of how I felt and the ideas that floated by as the days worn on. You might consider that as well. I continued to do my work and house chores. On hour 49 I broke the challenge with cheese and crackers. Yes I am weak!

I don't recommend this as a long-term diet for obvious nutritional reasons. I also don't claim this to be an accurate recipe for what WFP serves, just a facsimile to give you a good idea what it is like to eat if you were living in the hungry third world. Hopefully it is thought provoking for you.

My follow up is in comments.

-Joy Fill the Cup! It takes just 25 cents (US Currency) to fill one of the red cups that the World Food Programme uses to give hungry school children a regular school meal of porridge, rice, or beans. US $1.50 would feed a child for a week. Help us fill the cup by making an online donation now. Fill the Cup is an international campaign to raise funds for the estimated 59 million children in the developing world who go to school on an empty stomach. From Africa and Asia to Latin America WFP free school meals are served up in 70 developing countries, encouraging poor families to send their children to class and laying the foundations for a better future. WFP estimates that providing free meals to all the world's hungry school children will cost about US $3 Billion per year.

Friends of the World Food Program Buzz it up


Our Friendly Earth said...

It is day one, Friday, May 30th. I had my porridge this morning and it tasted pretty good. The porridge was made from one cup vanilla soy milk, 1/4 cup corn meal and 1/2 cup cold water. You simmer the soy milk on low in a pan on the stove; mix the corn meal with the cold water and stir until smooth, then add the corn meal and water mixture to the warming soy milk. Stir until thick. I offer this recipe in case someone is crazy enough to try this experiment along with me.

My porridge lasted me through the morning. Lunch-time rolled around and I noticed the lack of food, but kept on working. Now at 2:00 PM I am hungry. I want to eat.

The decision: keep on going or cave and say, "Now I know what hunger feels like," then go grab a nice salad or sandwich from the kitchen. My decision was to write this blog and therefore make a commitment to my readers to continue.

It's now 4:00 PM. Drinking water helps. I am determined to make it through this weekend. I know how lame that sounds. I really think that 24 hours for the average American would teach them a lot about hunger, and about how food-centric we are. -Joy

Our Friendly Earth said...

Day two - Saturday Afternoon - I made it through last night. Food kept popping up in my thoughts and I felt physical stress. Knowing that I had a cup of porridge coming in the morning was helpful. I started thinking how I would feel if I was hungry and couldn't count on a cup of porridge and had no idea where my next meal would come from. It would be a pretty hopeless feeling.

I also began to realize that when we feel good about providing one cup of porridge a day to people in the third world while we dine on three full meals and snacks everyday we don't have true compassion. We should do more than this.

It is amazing how quickly you feel the affects of having little or no food. I woke up with a headache this morning and with low energy.
My porridge at 10 AM today was close to being like drugs. After just a couple of bites I felt a relaxing sensation. After completing the mug, I felt so much better than before.

I challenge any doubters to try this for just 24 to 48 hours (unless you have a medical condition that would be adversely affected) and see how it makes you feel about hunger in the third world.

Of you can do it just to prove that I am a wimp and that you can get through this with no problems or concerns for the rest of the world.

I would hope that when your stomach starts growling if you stick to the goal, that you will start realizing that hunger hurts. Maybe you will look around you at all the advantages you have and realize how truly rich you are.

I have a comfortable bed to sleep in and chairs and couches to sit on in my air conditioned home, so even though I am hungry otherwise I am comfortable and can even sleep well at night. Not so for many in the third world.

My goal in this is for me to not only feel compassion but to feel empathy which can only happen if I can experience something like those who are hungry. Like when someone says, "you just had to be there to understand." This is my small way of "being there."

Our Friendly Earth said...

Sunday - I ended my "fill the cup" experience this morning. In 48 hours of having just one cup of porridge a day,I lost three pounds and felt the pain of hunger.

It seems like a short amount of time, but it was challenging and brought home to me the realities of hunger. Going through this made me not only think about hunger in the abstract but feel it in my own body.

The current food crisis is threatening every charitable food program since the price of grains have doubled and tripled which means the same dollars that funded them can only buy 1/2 to 1/3 the food that it would buy three months ago. You don't have to try my 48-hour experiment to care about the hungry in this world. Just think about it every time you grab a snack or sit down to a plentiful table of food. Say a prayer for those not so fortunate and make a pledge to do something to change the world. It takes less than a US dollar a day to feed on hungry child.

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