Last September during Hunger Action month I had coworkers and friends who were on Care and Share’s celebrity panel to take the Hunger Challenge, which means, as an individual, eating on $4.50 per day. That’s $22.50 for one week of groceries, the average amount of food stamp benefits our neighbors living on assistance get. I was travelling that week, so followed along on social media but couldn’t join the challenge. Their stories, albeit for one short week of impoverished eating, left a big impression on me.
Well, this year, I’m taking the challenge.
I’m fortunate enough to be training for a 100-mile bike ride and I’ll fly to California in November to complete it. This means I ride one of my bikes 3-5 times a week, try to get some hiking in and see a personal trainer three mornings a week. I eat clean and organic where I think it’s important. I fill my fridge with vegetables and fruit. I buy Epic Bars, Lara Bars and Clif Energy Bloks to toss in my backpack for a pick me up halfway into training rides. I buy fresh limes and pure maple syrup to add substance to my water for more efficient hydration. I drink really good beer. Often.
I expect to become very aware what a complete luxury in life all of that is during this challenge. I also expect to become aware of the opportunities that our poorer neighbors miss out on because they simply don’t have the means, let alone energy, to play after school football, to join the gymnastics team, to swim at the community pool, to take advantage of the trail system … because $4.50/day just doesn’t translate into high protein, good fats, vitamins — essential nutrients that a body needs to function on any level, let alone an athletic one.
How many Adrian Petersons, Mary Lou Rettons, Missy Franklins or Jens Voigts don’t ever reach their innate potential because they live their lives undernourished, hungry… missing meals and full days of meals?
I also realize that becoming a great athlete — or even having the opportunity to play sports and to recreate — isn’t the biggest problem when we talk about hunger, but as far as we can be certain, we only get to do this trip around the world called “life” once. Shouldn’t we all have the ability to live it to the fullest possible limit, without worrying about if we’ll get to eat today?
I invite you to follow along with my realizations on twitter at @carriesimison or send me a friend request on FaceBook where I’ll be tracking what impact this (thankfully) short-lived hunger has on my life and training.
Colorado Springs Independent