The recipe author’s teenage children who starved the Crusades in the summer.
You might think of summer as a family picnic and a lazy lake on the lake, but for 13.1 million American children, there is no food security, and the reality is very different.
For them, being out of school doesn’t mean hot dogs and s’mores; That means they are not sure about the next meal.
“In the summer, six out of seven children can’t go to school,” explains Stacey McDaniel, a spokesman for the anti-hunger initiative at the ymca in Chicago. “If you’re a parent with two children, that’s ten meals – the same budget.”
The result? Many children don’t. Recipe author and anti-hunger advocate Leanne Brown is trying to change that.
“Children should not be hungry,” she said. “Their brains don’t grow properly. They can’t be like the opportunities they deserve.”
For years, brown has been a crusader for a healthy budget. Her recipe, Good and Cheap, was released in 2014, offering tips and recipes for a healthy diet for $4 a day, usually from food stamps.
So far, she has received more than 100,000 hard copies and a million free PDF versions.
This summer, she is working with y-usa to spread awareness about children’s hunger and resources to help.
“I really hope we can promote the word more so that families can eat in the way they deserve,” said brown.
The y-usa summer food program, funded by the wal-mart foundation, launched in 2011. This year, the program will provide 7.2 million snacks and food to 300,000 children nationwide.
The group will host a series of free events where families can enjoy dinner, brown’s speeches and cooking tips, and “good and cheap” copies of signatures.
Two games have been held in Boston and rochester, New York, and eight in Nashville and Indianapolis.
Brown believes teaching families to cook will help them eat high-quality food – even if the budget is extremely low.
“It’s hard to feed a child with very little money, but it’s still possible,” she said. “If we accept cooking, we can do it very well, and these families can do it when they come home, and they want to do it for the rest of their lives.”
“It’s not just a meal,” says y-usa’s McDaniel. “It’s about raising the whole child, giving them the opportunity to reach their full potential.”
Danikka Moses, an educator at Boston public school, is a mother of three boys aged 19, 6 and 4. With them, her mother, niece and nephew, she attended brown’s Boston event.
“I’ve been studying how to feed my children’s healthy food and snacks,” she says. “The food is so expensive, but not very attractive, if I could be somewhere cutting, but also can provide very good food, then I can make sure the money can more effectively to spend with my family.
In this case, he says, brown provides tips to help children eat healthier, focusing on fruits and vegetables.
“A lot of people are asking how to make Brussels taste better,” Moses said with a laugh.
Like everyone else, Moses received a free version of “good and cheap”, and when she got home, she began to read.
“I’ve been looking at things and thinking ‘I should try’,” she explains. “It’s like oatmeal with five different changes, which is a great breakfast for my family, because I like healthy things, but it’s also easy!
Perhaps more important than the incident is the attention that brown’s name brings to the problem of child hunger – a problem many ignore.
“If you’re not fighting for it, it’s not what you think,” says y-usa’s McDaniel. “We went into our bubble and we couldn’t see what was going on outside the house.”
“Because we are so ashamed of our parents, it’s hard to see it,” said brown. “It’s a bad treatment for them – so it’s a very big hidden problem.”
That’s why, says Jillien Meier, director of the childless hunger movement, which shares our strength, everyone should be able to spread awareness about resources to everyone in need, such as y-usa.
“The first thing we need to do is help more families understand the summer meal plan,” she said. “A simple way to find a local site is to enter the words” FOOD “or” COMIDA “into 877-877. Enter your zip code and you will receive a message about the most recent free summer meal.
For brown, her cooperation with the United States is a welcome way to spread awareness about children’s hunger and help others directly.
“Food can be so mundane – we have to eat it three times a day,” she says. “It can become a chore, it can become stressful, so at any time I can help food become the joy it should be.
Susan Shain is a freelance writer and digital nomad responsible for travel, food and personal finance. She wrote for CNN, Travel + Leisure, the Washington post, etc.