Tag Archives: meals

Jim parked in A.I! … Congressman McGovern Calls for Action to Solve Senior Hunger

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5 Million American Seniors Struggle with Hunger

Many Forced to Choose Between Paying for Prescriptions and Having Enough to Eat

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Photo by Chef Joey
 
Congressman Jim McGovern, a senior House Democrat and leading voice in the fight against hunger, spoke on the House Floor today to recognize Older Americans Month and to help raise awareness about senior hunger and the ways we can better address it.
 
Full Text of Congressman McGovern’s Speech, as prepared for delivery:

 
“As we celebrate the contributions of our seniors during Older Americans Month this month, I rise to draw attention to an issue that often goes overlooked in our communities – the terrible problem of hunger among aging adults. 
 
“Food insecurity among seniors has doubled since 2001 and is expected to increase significantly as the Baby Boomer generation ages. 
 
“Today, food insecurity impacts five million seniors across the country, forcing them to make impossible decisions between food, medical care, home heating, and other necessities.
 
“We know that hunger is a health issue, and that is especially true among seniors over the age of 60.

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Photo by Chef Joey
 
“Research from Feeding America suggests that compared to their food secure neighbors, seniors suffering from hunger are 60 percent more likely to experience depression, 53 percent more likely to report a heart attack, 52 percent more likely to develop asthma, and 40 percent more likely to report an experience of congestive heart failure.
 
“Baby Boomers spend twice as much on health care as young adults do, and ensuring seniors have access to nutritious food will help to improve the health of our seniors and ultimately reduce medical costs.     
 
“We also know that seniors have unique nutritional needs, and I’m pleased to see scientists collaborating to create nutritional guidance for seniors. 
 
“Researchers at the Jean Mayer U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, with support from the AARP Foundation, recently unveiled an updated MyPlate for Older Adults graphic to help seniors visualize what foods cover the nutritional needs that make up a healthy plate for adults their age.  The new icon also encourages them to follow healthy eating patterns. 
 
“I was pleased to join scientists from Tufts, as well as representatives of AARP, last week at a briefing on Capitol Hill to unveil the new MyPlate icon and educate Congressional staff on the importance of senior nutrition.
 
“But if we want to ensure seniors have access to nutritious foods, we must also ensure they have the ability to afford fruits, vegetables, and other healthy options.
 
“One critical step we can take toward the goal of ending senior hunger is closing what’s referred to as the ‘senior SNAP gap.’ 
 
“While millions of our parents, grandparents, teachers, and friends are facing hunger, only a fraction of low-income seniors eligible for food assistance through SNAP are accessing the benefits, presumably because of the stigma associated with assistance or because seniors are unaware they qualify for benefits.
 
“Many seniors also suffer from limited mobility, or may have issues completing benefit applications which can be complex and time consuming.
 
“In fact, seniors are more likely than any other age group to be eligible for SNAP but not enrolled to receive benefits.

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Photo: R.T.
 
“That’s why I’m pleased to see so many advocacy organizations using Older Americans Month to call attention to the issue of senior hunger.
 
“Through their #SolveSeniorHunger campaign, Feeding America and other anti-hunger and aging organizations across the country are reaching out to seniors and their loved ones to raise awareness and ensure that those seniors who are eligible to receive SNAP benefits are connected to the appropriate resources.
 
“We should all do our part to help solve senior hunger by talking to our family members and friends about senior hunger and partnering with leaders in our communities working to improve access to nutritious food for senior populations.
 
“During my years in Congress, I have had the opportunity to visit food banks and other organizations in my district working to end hunger among seniors.   
 
“Last year, I had the privilege of spending a day with a Meals on Wheels program based in Northampton, Massachusetts – part of my Congressional district.  I helped to prepare and deliver meals, and had the opportunity to speak with the seniors who are served through this incredible program. 
 
“Members of Congress have an important role in ensuring that our nation’s seniors don’t go hungry, and I encourage all of my colleagues to spend time with similar programs in their districts. 
 
“Congress must adequately fund programs like Meals on Wheels that provide nutritious food to seniors, and reject harmful cuts to SNAP that will disproportionately harm the most vulnerable among us – children, seniors and the disabled. 
 
“Working together, we have the power to end hunger now, especially among our senior population.” 

InCity Yum Yums! Recipes to savor this holiday season! For under $5

CAM00454Chef Joey – self-taught and brilliant!!

By Chef Joey

Dare I say the weather is changing and looks like we are going colder, folks! But that can be a good thing.  With the colder weather the yearn for hearty food goes up and, believe it or not, you can cook up some delicious fare this holiday season for cheap!

Using beans as your protein source not only reduces the cost of your meal, it actually is healthier for you.  We so often look to short cuts, a quick “dollar” meal, frozen microwave meals, or all out dining.  Investing in a $15 crock pot makes cooking a breeze, so you come home to a prepared meal.  On the flip side, 45 minutes to an hour will also yield a delicious soup or stew made on your stove top.

You can make over 1 gallon of homemade tomato or cream of tomato soup for under $5.  It’s easy fast and delicious – all you need are onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes, garlic, water and a soup base – I prefer “Knorr’s” or “Better than Bullion” veggie base for the flavor.  The wet bullion base will cost you upfront – but the yield is amazing.

So, Joey, how do I make that soup?

It’s easy! Get a big pot, slice up 2 large onions and add to the pot with 1 -2 inches of water and let those puppies heat up – the water softens the onions and does not allow them to burn.  N

Now peel and rough chop 4 carrots and 4 or 5 stalks of celery and 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, put them in a blender with a cup or 2 of water depending on the volume and blend until smooth.

Add this to your onion mix, then open a large 6 pound can of crushed tomatoes (called #10 cans your food club stores sell them for under 4$) and stir. It will be kind of thick, so add ½ can or less of water and stir well.

Bring it to a near boil and let it simmer a good 40 minutes.  Add 3 or 4 tablespoons of your bouillon at this point and taste for flavor – now would be the time you salt and pepper.

Add heavy cream for cream of tomato or enjoy it vegan fast and easy.  The carrots add a sweet tinge and give another veggie element to the soup!

Notice how I had you finely chop the onions and cook in water? You can add a little olive oil if you like too –  this helps act as a baby sitter so your onions don’t burn.

Blending celery and garlic is a great way to introduce it to your broth without having to cut it up small small.  This is the basis for just about everything. The carrots and celery need to be pureed for the tomato soup but cubed or chopped is fine for other soups. Garlic however I feel works best in this application.

To make lentil soup – start with your onions then pureed garlic when the onions are soft add about 2 quarts of water – 8 cups and one bag of lentils that have been rinsed off.

To this add 3 peeled (or unpeeled) potato finely diced and 4 peeled and diced carrots and 4 or 5 stalks of celery.  A tablespoon or 2 of cumin or turmeric, it does wonders for this soup

The lentils need a solid 45 minutes to cook.  At the end taste for flavor – if you feel the need for bouillon go ahead if not salt and pepper – you can add fresh lemon juice and a whole bunch of fresh chopped spinach too (blender trick works great).

Substitute the bag of lentils with barley for another great soup and instead of cumin – try turmeric, or curry powder!

1 cup barley goes a long way and it keeps growing-  so don’t use more than a cup per 2 quarts.

Ok – we get it! But I don’t like lentils!

Well, that’s great but I say try them as an adult. But you still don’t like them!!! Ok, then start your base of onions and this time triple your garlic (I LOVE bags of whole peeled garlic and NEVER use the chopped up stuff – you will ruin your recipe) – blend it together and add Cannelli beans or white navy beans juice and everything into your onion base.

Ideally, if you buy a bag of dried beans and soak overnight or quick boil prepare is the cheapest route – 1 pound bags range from 89 cents to $1.50 versus the same price, depending on the brand for cans.

Add your water and base at this point for this soup.  Add fresh washed and chopped escarole to this, and there you have it – Escarole and bean soup! Just add diced carrots and boom white bean soup, or get a package of grape tomatoes, rough blend in the blender with water – add to the beans and you have a variation.

Black bean soup is just as fun! A secret I taught myself when I didn’t have any cilantro is to add a jar of salsa to my black beans.

So basically start your base onions and garlic – then add 2 cans black beans 8 cups water let that heat up – throw in a bag of frozen corn and cup or 2 of diced carrots, a tablespoon of cumin – these old world spices really work – after about a half hour add the salsa – at least a cup stir until hot and there you have it.  All of these nutritious meals costs less than $5.

You can add meat to the barley soup, if you have leftovers.  It is ideal chop it up into little cubes.  One half of a whole chicken breast goes a long way and can feed many.

Chicken pot pie is chicken stew without a crust.  This is easy! Once again the base of the onions – add garlic a little oil on this one, toss in 4 or 5 chopped celery stalks then add your diced chicken and sauté for a few minutes.

Add 2 cups carrots – 2 cups peas– 2 cups diced potatoes then cover with mixture just enough about an inch over the mixture.

When veggies are done, add some chicken base or veggie base – I am gluten free so I thicken with corn starch – 4 or 5 tablespoons mixed with COLD water (1/4 cup works fine) add to the broth and there you have it 20 minute chicken stew.

Pour it in a pan, make a quick crust (1 stick cold butter 2 cups flour – salt and a teaspoon of baking powder – throw it in your food processor – or if you don’t have one mix the dry together – soften the butter – both ways require a little bit of cold water until it becomes pastry like – roll it out on a floured surface – no roller…use a bottle or a can (clean it first) and bake until flakey and golden.

When you go shopping and you see carrots potatoes, turnips etc. on sale BUY THEM – they can last a while in dry storage.  A 10 pound bag of carrots will sell for $3.99 vs 1 pound for $1.99 – always shop for the lowest price per pound.

Notice how I had you finely chop the onions and cook in water? You can add a little olive oil if you like, too – this helps act as a baby sitter so your onions don’t burn.  Blending celery and garlic is a great way to introduce it to your broth without having to cut it up small small.  This is the basis for just about everything. The carrots and celery need to be pureed for the tomato soup but cubed or chopped is fine for other soups. Garlic. however, I feel works best in this application.

To make lentil soup start with your onions then pureed garlic when the onions are soft add about 2 quarts of water – 8 cups and one bag of lentils that have been rinsed off.  To this add 3 peeled (or unpeeled) potato finely diced and 4 peeled and diced carrots and 4 or 5 stalks of celery.  A tablespoon or 2 of cumin or turmeric, it does wonders for this soup The Lentils need a solid 45 minutes to cook.  At the end taste for flavor – if you feel the need for bouillon go ahead if not salt and pepper – you can add fresh lemon juice and a whole bunch of fresh chopped spinach too (blender trick works great).  Substitute the bag of lentils with barley for another great soup and instead of cumin – try turmeric, or curry powder!  1 cup barley goes a long way and it keeps growing so don’t use more than a cup per 2 quarts.

Ok we get it but I don’t like lentils – Well that’s great but I say try them as an adult..  But you still don’t like them ok then start your base of onions and this time triple your garlic (I LOVE bags of whole peeled garlic and NEVER use the chopped up stuff – you will ruin your recipe) – blend it together and add Cannelli beans or white navy beans juice and everything into your onion base.  Ideally if you buy a bag of dried beans and soak overnight or quick boil prepare is the cheapest route – 1 pound bags range from $.89 to $1.50 versus the same price depending on the brand for cans.  Add your water and base at this point for this soup.  Add fresh washed and chopped escarole to this and there you have it escarole and bean soup.  Just add diced carrots and boom white bean soup, or get a package of grape tomatoes, rough blend in the blender with water – add to the beans and you have a variation.

Black bean soup is just as fun, and a secret I taught myself when I didn’t have any cilantro is to add a jar of salsa to my black beans.

So basically start your base onions and garlic – then add 2 cans black beans 8 cups water let that heat up – throw in a bag of frozen corn and cup or 2 of diced carrots, a tablespoon of cumin – these old world spices really work – after about a half hour add the salsa – at least a cup stir until hot and there you have it.  All of these nutritious meals costs less than $5.

You can add meat to the barley soup if you have leftovers it is ideal chop it up into little cubes.  One half of a whole chicken breast goes a long way and can feed many.

Chicken pot pie is chicken stew without a crust.  This is easy is once again the base of the onions – add garlic a little oil on this one, toss in 4 or 5 chopped celery stalks then add your diced chicken and sauté for a few minutes.

Add 2 cups carrots – 2 cups peas – 2 cups diced potatoes then cover with mixture just enough about an inch over the mixture.

When veggies are done add some chicken base or veggie base – I am gluten free so I thicken with corn starch – 4 or 5 tablespoons mixed with COLD water (1/4 cup works fine) add to the broth and there you have it 20 minute chicken stew.

Pour it in a pan – make a quick crust (1 stick cold butter 2 cups flour – salt and a teaspoon of baking powder – throw it in your food processor – or if you don’t have one mix the dry together – soften the butter – both ways require a little bit of cold water until it becomes pastry like – roll it out on a floured surface – no roller…use a bottle or a can (clean it first) and bake until flakey and golden.

When you go shopping and you see carrots potatoes, turnips etc. on sale buy them – they can last a while in dry storage.  A 10 pound bag of carrots will sell for $3.99 vs 1 pound for $1.99 always shop for the lowest price per pound.

Speaking about carrots… peel 3 pounds of carrots, run them through the food processor or blender with water to purée them.(if you don’t have one use the side of your box grater – or dice very fine.  Start your soup with the onion base add garlic then add your carrots – cover with water add a tablespoon of fresh chopped ginger and let it cook for a good 30 minutes on medium –a tablespoon of curry powder will add another dimension.  Salt pepper and add base if needed..

You can find many different spices in the ethnic sections of your supermarket – fennel, curry, turmeric etc. are way cheaper in the Indian section versus the spice section of the market.  Look for the big Goya displays most yearly supplies are under $5.  Use chick peas with your onion and garlic blend add water when it boils add a cup of pasta!  Pasta Cici – and if you soak your own beans – you’re talking $3.00 soup for 10 or more – that’s $.30 cents a serving and no additives.

Don’t be afraid to experiment!

Remember the book stone soup?  I don’t like to admit it much either because it shows our age, but it is true – you can make soups and stews with anything – adding mashed potato will thicken the case nicely.  Save your leftover veggies no matter how small the portion and after a couple days well stored – “add them to the pot”!

If onions bother you, I feel bad – use leeks instead and make sure you wash them well as they can collect dirt between the layers – they enhance soup wonderfully.

Toss some cubed butternut squash in with your lentils or barley soups or even chicken stew at $.79 a pound it’s inexpensive and just one will add 3 or more servings!

Carrot soup …. Speaking of carrots… peel 3 pounds of carrots, run them through the food processor or blender with water to purée them. (if you don’t have one, use the side of your box grater – or dice very fine.)  Start your soup with the onion base, add garlic then add your carrots.

Cover with water, add a tablespoon of fresh chopped ginger and let it cook for a good 30 minutes on medium –a tablespoon of curry powder will add another dimension.

Salt pepper and add base, if needed.

You can find many different spices in the ethnic sections of your supermarket – fennel, curry, turmeric etc. are way cheaper in the Indian section versus the spice section of the market.

Look for the big Goya displays!  Most yearly supplies are under $5.  Use chick peas with your onion and garlic blend add water when it boils add a cup of pasta!  Pasta Cici! And if you soak your own beans – you’re talking $3 soup for 10 or more people – that’s 30 cents a serving – and no additives!

Don’t be afraid to experiment!

Remember the book stone soup?  I don’t like to admit it much either because it shows our age, but it is true – you can make soups and stews with anything – adding mashed potato will thicken the case nicely.  Save your leftover veggies, no matter how small the portion, and after a couple of days well stored – “add them to the pot”!

Enjoy the cooking! I would love to hear your new recipes! (editor’s note: email them to Chef Joey, c/o incitytimes@hotmail.com)

The United States of Thanksgiving

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MASSACHUSETTS

Clam and Chouriço Dressing

Massachusetts is the birthplace of the iconic Thanksgiving tableau, the home to Norman Rockwell, whose 1943 painting “Freedom From Want” gives Americans its most enduring vision of the holiday table. It is also home to one of the largest Portuguese-American communities in the United States and the source of one of the nation’s most flavorful hyphenated cuisines. …

Go to the bar above and click Massachusetts to read more! 

Yummy recipes for the holiday season!

Deelish! And not one turkey, chicken or pig slaughtered! From PETA.ORG.  – R.T.

Soups and Salads

Entrées

Side Dishes

Read more: http://www.peta.org/living/food/celebrate-vegan-holiday/#ixzz3IIGauNXS

The amazing turkey!

By Alisa Mullins

A New Hampshire turkey farmer was in the news recently because of his unorthodox practice of giving his turkeys beer. One might naturally wonder whether this is inhumane since it could possibly make the turkeys drunk or ill, but he assures potential customers that turkeys “don’t seem to be the brightest, so they could stumble and you wouldn’t know if they drank too much or not.”

This farmer’s turkey husbandry may be out of the ordinary, but he’s pretty run-of-the-mill when it comes to insulting the birds’ intelligence. But are turkeys really that dumb? Not according to people who don’t have an interest in perpetuating the idea that they are little more than walking Thanksgiving centerpieces.

Ben Franklin called turkeys “a Bird of Courage.” He had tremendous respect for their resourcefulness and agility. So does retired Oregon State University poultry scientist Tom Savage, who says turkeys are “smart animals with personality and character, and keen awareness of their surroundings.”

Perhaps no one has a deeper insight into the workings of a turkey’s mind than naturalist Joe Hutto, star of the remarkable PBS documentary My Life as a Turkey. Hutto raised a flock of turkeys from birth and learned how alert, affectionate and observant they are. Turkeys possess “an extraordinary intelligence characterized by true problem-solving reason, and a consciousness that was undeniable, at all times conspicuous, and for me, humbling,” says Hutto. The young turkeys were keen observers of their environment, always noticed if anything—a fallen branch or a patch of disturbed earth—had changed and, if so, would carefully examine it. Hutto also noted that they had an extensive vocabulary, with specific vocalizations for individual animals, and he identified more than 30 specific calls.

Turkeys also have excellent vision and are able to recognize and distinguish between different humans. “I found that the turkeys were in fact suspicious of other people even at a great distance and could … discriminate between me and anyone else from a quarter of a mile!” Hutto says.

One turkey, named Sweet Pea, loved to climb into Hutto’s lap and curl up like a contented puppy.

Lest you think Hutto’s turkeys were unique, people who get to know rescued turkeys at sanctuaries report that they are similarly curious and discriminating.

Erik Marcus, the author of Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating, reports that turkeys “remember your face and they will sit closer to you with each day you revisit. Come back day after day and, before long, a few birds will pick you out as their favorite and they will come running up to you whenever you arrive. It’s definitely a matter of the birds choosing you rather than of you choosing the birds.”

Yet chickens and turkeys aren’t even considered animals by the federal government. They are inexplicably excluded from the Humane Slaughter Act, the only federal law that provides any protection for animals in slaughterhouses, which means that it is perfectly legal for chickens and turkeys to have their throats slit without prior stunning and to be dunked into the scalding-hot water of defeathering tanks while still conscious.

More than 210 million turkeys are killed every year in the U.S.—46 million at Thanksgiving alone. Most of them are raised on factory farms, where they are confined by the thousands to windowless sheds. They are forced to stand in their own waste, and ammonia fumes burn their eyes and lungs. In order to prevent stress-induced fighting, their upper beaks are cut off with a red-hot blade, and to make them grow abnormally large abnormally quickly, they are genetically manipulated and fed growth-promoting drugs, which leads to painful, crippled legs and heart attacks. Turkeys are slaughtered when they are still babies, just 5 to 6 months old.

It’s bad enough that all these terrible things are done to turkeys without literally adding insult to injury by belittling and demeaning them. Maybe it makes people feel better about eating these inquisitive, sensitive birds to mock them and sneer at them, but if any of us had an ounce of decency, it should make us feel infinitely worse.

 

 

16.6% of households in Worcester area unable to afford enough food

editor’s note: I have made some sentences bold.

16.6 Percent of Households in Worcester Area Reported in 2012 Inability to Afford Enough Food

Boston  – 15 percent of respondents – or more than one in seven people – in Massachusetts reported in 2012 not having enough money to buy food that they or their family needed at some points during the prior twelve months, according to a new report released by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC).

This report provides data on food hardship – the inability to afford enough food – for every region, every state, every Congressional District, and 100 of the country’s largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), including Boston-Cambridge-Quincy; Springfield; and Worcester MSAs in Massachusetts. The report found that nationally the food hardship rate was 18.2 percent in 2012. Among states, Mississippi had the highest food hardship rate (24.6 percent) and North Dakota had the lowest (10.9 percent).

For Massachusetts it found that:

  • 15 percent in the state in 2012 said they were unable to afford enough food.
  • For the Worcester MSA, the food hardship rate for 2011-2012 was 16.6 percent, compared to 12.7 percent in the Boston MSA and 18.3 percent in the Springfield MSA.
  • Regionally, Massachusetts’s rate was slightly lower than the regional average. For the Northeast region, 15.9 percent say they were unable to afford enough food.

“It is unacceptable that so many people across Massachusetts are struggling and cannot afford enough food to provide for their families,” said Georgia Katsoulomitis, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI). “These numbers show us that we must make our nation’s safety net stronger, not weaker. The proposed cuts to SNAP, WIC, Elder Nutrition and other programs are unconscionable and would de-stabilize families that are already struggling.”

FRAC’s food hardship report analyzed data collected by Gallup and provided to FRAC. The data were gathered as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index project, which has been interviewing almost 1,000 households daily since January 2008. FRAC analyzed responses to the question: “Have there been times in the past twelve months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?”

“Persistent unemployment, stagnant wages, and inadequate public programs are contributing to the nation’s high food hardship rate, yet Congress continues to propose cuts that would further fray our nation’s nutrition safety net,” said FRAC President Jim Weill. “Congress needs to fix the problems rather than doubling down on harming the most vulnerable Americans.”

Representatives from MLRI will be in Washington, D.C. for the National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference, sponsored by FRAC and Feeding America. With more than 700 attendees, the conference will culminate on Tuesday (March 5, 2013) with a day of action on Capitol Hill where attendees will share these data with their lawmakers. MLRI is joining FRAC in urging Members of Congress to strengthen the federal nutrition programs so benefits are sufficient to address hunger and so they reach more households.

One key weakness of SNAP is that its benefit levels are too low to allow people to purchase enough food. A report recently released by the Institute of Medicine underscored the current inadequacy of SNAP benefit levels in ensuring that recipient’s nutritional needs are met, and outlined flaws in how SNAP benefits are currently calculated.

“SNAP benefits must be improved, and not endure further cuts as some in Congress have proposed. A majority of Americans oppose such cuts,” said Katsoulomitis. “The conversation needs to change in Washington, and Congress needs to focus on building – not weakening – our nation’s safety net. The first step is passing a Farm Bill this year that protects and strengthens SNAP.”

Food waste another reason to go vegan

By Ingrid E. Newkirk

When hundreds of millions of people go hungry every day, wasting food is obscene. No one needs to remind us of this. Or perhaps someone does. According to a new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Americans toss out nearly every other bite of food. We squander up to 40 percent of the nation’s food supply each year—throwing away, on average, 20 pounds per person per month—while making excuses for our wastefulness. The lettuce had started to wilt. We forgot about the yogurt in the back of the fridge. We simply bought more than we needed. Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs.

This is shameful enough. Now consider the nightmare that billions of animals—who feel anxiety, fear and pain every bit as profoundly as we do—endure on factory farms, in transit to slaughter and at the slaughterhouse itself. Nowadays, they are confined to cages and crates, their babies are taken away from them and they are kicked and prodded and deprived of everything that makes their lives worth living just so that we can take their milk or kill them for their flesh. And then we toss half of it all into the trash. This may be one of the most compelling reasons yet to go vegan.

PETA has conducted numerous undercover investigations into factory farms and slaughterhouses, and we’ve invariably found stomach-churning cruelty. A PETA investigator working at a New York dairy farm that supplies the maker of Cabot and McCadam cheeses saw cows being jabbed and struck, even in the udder, with poles and canes. Calves bellowed and thrashed in unrelieved pain as workers removed their horn buds—without providing any pain relief. Most cows on dairy farms are not naturally hornless. Farmers use searing-hot irons, caustic chemicals, knives, shears, sharp wires and even handsaws to cut and dig the horns out of calves’ skulls.

And after all this, we pour milk down the drain. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that Americans waste 30 percent of our milk supply—or a third of a glass of milk per person per day. The public radio program Marketplace recently did the math: That’s the milk from some 800,000 cows, whose beloved calves are torn away from them for veal year after year, tossed away without a thought.

PETA investigators have also witnessed workers at a Tyson Foods slaughterhouse beat, throw and decapitate animals. They’ve witnessed abuse inside a Butterball turkey slaughterhouse, where birds were punched and kicked. They’ve seen farm workers beat pigs, spray paint into their nostrils, electro-shock pregnant sows and slam piglets to the ground. And on and on.

Whenever PETA or anyone else releases the findings from an investigation, meat industry spokespeople are quick to claim that it’s an “isolated incident.” Yet we keep finding the same abuses every time we look.

There is no good excuse for what animals endure on factory farms, during transport or on the slaughterhouse floor. But when need becomes greed and we mindlessly buy meat, milk and other animal products because they’re cheap, only to toss them into the trash when we decide that we didn’t really want them after all, it’s time to do some soul-searching. Habits can be hard to change, but in this case we may not have much choice in the matter. Another newly released report predicts that the spiraling human population and food shortages will force most of us to go vegetarian by 2050—but why wait?

The Worcester County Food Bank – helping local families make ends meet in a tough economy

By Jean McMurray

A recent visitor to the Worcester County Food Bank exclaimed, “I had no idea how big of an operation this was and everything that goes on inside to help people with food.” Two other recent visitors, a mother and her young son, also did not know what to expect when they came to the Food Bank. The stress was visible in her face and in her voice as she spoke. We offered them a seat in the office while a co-worker went to get a box of food containing cereal, peanut butter, rice, pasta, and a variety of canned goods. We also included some fresh fruits and vegetables. We spent some time talking about the food pantry in her neighborhood that could help her in the future as well as where she could go for help in applying for SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. She thanked us and seemed relieved. As my co-worker went to place the food in her car, the little boy took his took his mother’s hand and said with a smile, “Look Mommy we’re rich again.”

All of the donations entrusted to the Food Bank during the course of a year have an immediate impact as the need for our services continues to be a reality for too many people in Worcester County. With unemployment at 8 percent in Worcester County, food is a fundamental need that people are struggling to meet. With the recession and the slow economic recovery, the Food Bank is distributing more food than ever before to its network of partner agencies including food pantries, community meals sites, and shelters.

In fiscal year 2011, the Food Bank and its network helped over 83,000 people, including 32,000 children under the age of 18. Every day, we speak with individuals and families experiencing economic and emotional hardship. People like the man who has been unemployed for a long time, his savings are gone and he’s eaten very little in the past three days and the husband and wife who work and care for elderly parents and their young children. Every day, we also appreciate hearing from thoughtful people who offer meaningful gifts in the form of food, funds, and volunteer time.
Although these economic times remain uncertain and difficult, the community’s support of the Food Bank has been steadfast and heartwarming. The Food Bank is only able to provide help because of the tremendous support we receive from many individuals, businesses, foundations, and organizations as well as the state and federal government.

This past year, over 335 volunteers provided nearly 5,000 hours of volunteer service in the Food Bank’s warehouse sorting through food donations, while checking for food safety. Hundreds of food donors contributed a total of 5.8 million pounds of food, which is enough food for approximately 86,000 meals a week. Of the food distributed by the Food Bank, the two highest categories were fresh fruits and vegetables and protein in the form of meat, fish, and poultry.
The community’s support sustains our efforts to be a reliable source of good food to our network of partner agencies and the people they assist at Thanksgiving and throughout the year. Help and hope are precious gifts at any time of year for a parent trying to provide for their family or a senior citizen trying to meet their basic needs.
As an organization, the Food Bank is an efficient network of agencies and a resourceful public-private partnership. However, over the last three years, we have been challenged by unprecedented demand and uncertainty over available food resources. Throughout the region, we have seen a 12 percent increase in the number of people helped since 2008.

As the U.S. Congress makes difficult decisions this year about our national priorities, it is imperative that they do not take food away from Americans in need. We must remember the families in Worcester County who are facing hunger and the important role that nutrition programs play in their health and well-being, especially for vulnerable children and seniors. Any loss in federal support for federal nutrition programs, like SNAP, due to budget cuts or as part of the deficit reduction plan would make it harder for families to recover from the recession and would result in a gap for food that will be difficult for the Food Bank to fill.

With unemployment still high, investing in anti-hunger programs is not only the right thing to do but also makes fiscal sense, as these programs allow us to care for our neighbors, build our communities and lead to savings in healthcare and education down the road.

Everyone can help protect the federal nutrition programs from cuts as Congress moves forward to implement the Budget Control Act of 2011. Our legislators need to know that the problem of hunger is solvable and an issue of social justice that we care about. Everyone can contribute to ending hunger by contacting their legislators about the harmful cuts to nutrition assistance programs and encouraging them to pass a budget that addresses the deficit while safeguarding safety net programs that protect our neighbors in need.

Becoming an anti-hunger advocate is easy to do by visiting Feeding America’s Hunger Action Center at www.hungeractioncenter.org or the Food Research and Action Center, www.frac.org. By signing up at one of these websites, you receive action alerts on federal issues affecting hungry Americas that can be forwarded to your members of Congress with a click of a mouse and you learn about federal programs that bring relief to the millions of America struggling with hunger, including the 33,000 households who turned to the Food Bank and its network of partner agencies in 2011 for help with feeding their families.

If you have been to the Worcester County Food Bank, then you know, like all of our visitors, that it is a unique place, a place where the community comes together to make incredible things happen – one advocate, one volunteer, one dollar, and one pound of food at a time. If you have not been to the Food Bank, we invite you to come visit us sometime soon, so you can see firsthand what we do and how the generosity of so many people is at work in the community.

Thanksgiving: a time of bounty for some, scarcity for others

By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee

As the nation looks forward to the celebration of Thanksgiving, for many families it’s another day with very little food in their kitchens. Three years after the onset of the financial and economic crisis, hunger remains high in the United States. This crisis that erupted in 2008 caused a dramatic increase in hunger in this country. This high level of hunger continued in 2010, according to the latest government report (with the most recent statistics) released in September 2011 by a study done by Coleman-Jensen.

As an educator all my adult life, I have witnessed families in need of food and remember visiting a family before Thanksgiving with our guidance councilor. We brought the family bags of food and when I asked the mother where I could place the food she told me to just leave it in the kitchen for they didn’t have a refrigerator and shared one with the person on the second floor. We need to remember that all students do not step off the bus in the morning with the same advantages. The truth is that many of our students are faced with hardships and hunger.

Another family that I visited I brought a gallon of milk as part of the food basket. The child turned to her mother and said wow now we can have milk for the weekend! Poverty is real in this community but so many community members have no idea that it exists. Schools and community agents continue to reach out and assist the many families that they know about. For example, students at South High Community School have over 177 known homeless teens. South High’s Principal Maureen Binienda, not only addresses the academic needs of her students, but their physical and emotional needs. She has established a food pantry for needy students at the school. Students in need stop by the Health Center after school and pick up an ordinary school backpack and fill it with food.

Thanks to the Federal Government, students who qualify for free and reduced lunch are fed a breakfast and lunch in the schools. The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program that provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children from low income families. In 2008 the program reached 30.5 million children. Children are from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the poverty level. (For the period July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010, 130 percent of the poverty level is $28,665 for a family of four; 185 percent is $40,793.) Children from families with incomes over 185 percent of poverty pay a full price, though their meals are still subsidized to some extent by the program. Program cost was $9.3 billion in 2008. In Worcester seventy percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch.

Another program that has assisted families in need is the Food Stamp Program, the nation’s most important anti-hunger program, helps roughly 40 million low-income Americans to afford a nutritionally adequate diet. More than 75 percent of all food stamp participants are in families with children; nearly one-third of participants are elderly people or people with disabilities. Unlike most means-tested benefit programs, which are restricted to particular categories of low-income individuals, the Food Stamp Program is broadly available to almost all households with low incomes. These programs are fundamental to nourish children and to aid in their success in school by meeting their most basic needs.

Important research began back in 1943 a psychologist named Abraham Maslow who first introduced his concept of a hierarchy of needs in his paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” and his subsequent book, Motivation and Personality. This hierarchy suggests that people are motivated to fulfill basic needs before moving on to other needs.

The very first need was the physiological needs of individuals. These include the most basic needs that are vital to survival, such as the need for water, air, food and sleep. Maslow believed that these needs are the most basic and instinctive needs in the hierarchy because all needs become secondary until these physiological needs are met. Yet we have individuals in this community who don’t believe that poverty has an impact on learning. However, what we do know is that the way out of poverty is through education but we still need to meet the physiological needs of the student. This can only happen if communities partner with schools to better the lives of the nation’s most precious resource, our children.

So as the Thanksgiving holiday rolls in think about what you can do the assist families in need …