Category Archives: how to feed a hungry child

How to be your own partner in crime

Yesterday at the mall I saw a man passing along a questionable legacy to his children, and it freaked me out.

He walked into a See’s Candy store with his three sons.  All four of them were overweight.  The children carried bags with food from Wetzel’s Pretzels, which all but the youngest quickly polished off while they waited in line.  The older two kids began consuming their candy as they left the store.  The youngest exchanged the remains of his Wetzel’s for the candy.

Sitting at the tables outside (with my giant tea and a single See’s candy freshly plucked from my own bag), I fixated on them. I wondered how anyone could intervene without offending the father or the children.  Continue reading

Small change #14: Buy and/or make a new food

Do your best old lady voice: What’s all this I’m hearing about kale?  What is this here Quinoa (KEEN-wah)?  How do you make an eggplant anyway?  

Buy a little kale, quinoa, or some other food you haven’t yet experienced.  Look online for a recipe or instructions on how to make it and give it a try as a side dish with dinner.  You might discover something you couldn’t believe!  You’ll also round out your diet with balanced, healthy foods.

I was asked recently by a lady in her 60s how to cook fresh broccoli as I was adding some to a bag.  I was so happy she asked! (You can boil broccoli for 2-3 minutes, but I prefer to make a shallow pool of water in a wide skillet, put the lid half on and let it steam for a few minutes.  Add a little grated parmesan over the top, and/or add a tiny bit of butter to the pool of water for serious yum.)

A couple of years ago a kid from my daughter’s school was visiting and wondered if she could taste vanilla soy milk.  She loved it, and I was moved by her enthusiastic response: “I could have gone MY WHOLE LIFE and not had this!”  Tasting one new food made her realize the importance of new experiences.  And she was all of 9 years old at the time.


Small change #12: Give away some small change

How about some small change for someone else?

A couple of weeks ago a Boy Scout troop came by with some grocery bags with a little note asking if we could fill the bag with a few groceries to help people seeking help through MEND (Meet Each Need with Dignity).

I filled the bag with chili, beans, Trader Joe’s version of Cheerios, and a couple of kinds of pasta.  I spent about $10.

Why not buy 1-2 staples for food pantry near you or send a check for the equivalent, remembering that even $5 every so often helps a lot.  Continue reading

Feeding hungry children this summer

Hi there, sorry to be away for so long…I never intend it!

I was riding along in my car yesterday wondering what kind of summer programs exist for children who, without the aid of school meals, face hunger and possibly malnutrition this summer.  I made a note in my head to look this up.  Unfortunately, my head is a very crowded and somewhat disorganized place, so I forgot.

Then this morning I saw an article in the L.A. Times about fewer qualified children participating in food programs during the summer because fewer summer programs were being offered at schools.  (here is the link:,0,7728509.story)

Life is difficult enough with everyone out of work and struggling.  There are nearby parks and community centers in Los Angeles offering assistance and to make it easy (it isn’t terribly simple to find unless you know where to look), here are some places to go:

A listing of food service program locations in the Los Angeles area at nearby parks with telephone contact information, the times when lunch and snacks are served  to children ages 1-18 for FREE with NO PAPERWORK — just come and eat — from June 27-August 26, 2011:   Phone:  (818) 546-2383 or (818) 546-2384 Menus:

The L.A. Regional Food Bank also has programs for kids, seniors and other adults facing hunger, including programs to feed children over the weekends:

Community centers and other private entities that provide food services are reimbursed by the federal government through the USDA.  If you are looking for such a program and you do not live in Los Angeles, or you would like to start one of your own, please go to:

National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE

Fruit Season is a’comin’

If you want to eat more fruit, or get your kids to eat more fruit, put it where you can see it.  A pretty bowl with bananas, little clementines and apples is very inviting, and when the food is right in front of you, you’re more likely to eat it whether it’s good for you or not.  So keep the candy bars out of sight, and the fruit on the dining table.*

To keep fruits fresh, try putting out just enough for grabbing and leave the rest in the fridge.  We replenish daily after the grabbing and running are done for the day.

*and while you’re in the hammock, read Brian Wansink’s fantastic book, Mindless Eating, about experiments at Cornell proving this and other funny human tricks we play on ourselves.  Mr. Wansink is a terrific writer as well.

Ralph gets fun, friends and pep when he eats the right foods

Poor Ralph.  If he hadn’t eaten that luscious candy bar, he’d have the pep to play with Frank and Judy….and butter is a good source of Vitamin A, but you know, so is a sweet potato or a peach or colored vegetables and fruits (as beta carotene).  Also, breads are enriched, and have been since the ’40s.  A quart of milk!  Now there’s a lobby for ya.  But the prettiest girl in class is still Wendy, the one who eats her vegetables.  Thank goodness Ralph didn’t have that pesky McDonald’s calling him like a siren to the shore…

Farm food!

farmA couple of weeks ago, 80+ kids along with some Advil-poppin’ parents and teachers (including me) trotted out to Underwood Family Farms for a little face time with some right-out-of-the-ground food. It was a long ride, but by the time we saw actual fields, the kids were getting rowdy with excitement. First they got a primer on fruits and vegetables (during which I heard more than one parent comment that they were learning something also).

Okay. A fruit is the actual reproductive part of a plant, complete with seeds. It’s very clever when you think about it. The plant can’t move, and if something doesn’t scatter the seeds, the new plants will be too crowded to survive. Here’s where the animals come in. Something eats the seed-bearing part (and sometimes the seeds too), and by tossing the core, or the seeds, or even pooping the whole seeds and the plant and the animal survive and go on to reproduce. (And plants make their own food, unlike us; they’re cleverer than you thought, huh?).

So a fruit bears the seeds. A tomato, a cucumber, zucchini, an avocado: Fruit, technically.

Er, then what is a vegetable? When you eat the leaves, stems, or flowers. The guy mentioned that cauliflower really is the flowering part of the plant. Really? Okay, I learned something too.

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