Mount Rushmore

January 6, 2021

January 6, 2021 is a day that Americans and much of the world will never forget. After the numbing, emotional rollercoaster of the past ten months of a global pandemic, racial tensions, riots, violence, economic hardship and political madness, we arrived at the biggest threat on our democracy in modern times.

As we watched with horror and disbelief, our nation fell on one of the darkest moments in history. Four days later I’m still trying to comprehend and digest what had happened and wonder where on earth our future lies.

CULTURE

How Feeding America is Helping to Feed America

On one of the largest holidays of the year in America, Thanksgiving, when most Americans are so full after eating such an enormous meal and a lot of the leftovers go to waste, it is hard to image that millions of people in this country go hungry.

In fact, 1 in 8 people struggle with hunger in the U.S. 

As I enter the kitchen and begin to start preparing the Thanksgiving meal for our family of four, I reflect on this tragic fact. That despite the grocery stores filled with more food than you can ever imagine possible and the tables around the country awash with food, that so many Americans simply don’t have enough to eat nor have enough healthy food to eat. Ironically enough, our nation struggles too with some of the highest obesity rates in the world: Per the CDC, the prevalence of obesity was 39.8% and affected about 93.3 million of US adults in 2015~2016.

It is so ironic in a nation of plenty that so many have so little and so little healthy to eat. In fact, billions of pounds of food is wasted every single year. Yet the problem of hunger is complex.

So, Who Goes Hungry? 

While researching on Feeding America, a leading non-profit in America fighting to combat hunger, I found these somewhat surprising statistics that delve into the often hidden facts of who in America is going hungry.

Child:

It’s a simple fact: A child’s chance for a bright tomorrow starts with getting enough food to eat today. But in America, 1 in 6 children may not know where they will get their next meal. For the more than 12 million kids in the U.S. facing hunger, getting the energy they need to learn and grow can be a daily challenge.

Senior

Nearly 5 million senior citizens currently face hunger in our country. After a lifetime of hard work, 63% of the households with older adults (50+) that Feeding America serves find themselves facing an impossible choice — to buy groceries or medical care. And as the baby-boom generation ages, the number of seniors facing hunger is only expected to increase.

Rural

Many rural and farm communities — the very places where crops are grown to feed the world — face hunger. It seems impossible, but in lands of plenty, hunger pains can be the sharpest.

African American

African American households face hunger at a rate more than twice that of white, non-Hispanic households. And getting enough to eat is a consistent struggle for 1 in 4 African American children.

Latino

Latino families face hunger at staggering rates in America. One in six Latino households in the United States struggles with hunger. For Latino children, the disparity is even more severe. Nearly 1 in 4 Latino children is at risk of hunger, compared to 12% of White, non-Hispanic children.

Poverty

40 million Americans struggle with hunger, the same as the number of people officially living in poverty. Based on annual income, 72% of the households the Feeding America network served in 2014 lived at or below the federal poverty level with a median annual household income of $9,175.

Source: Feeding America

However daunting it may seem there is a is a silver lining. There are many amazing organizations out there trying to fight hunger and make a difference.

How Feeding America is Making a Difference

Feeding America is a hunger relief organization with the mission to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger. With over 35 years of experience in fighting hunger, Feeding America is making an enormous impact with a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs strong throughout the United States.

Through Feeding America’s Food and Nutrition Assistance Programs, they are reaching over 46 million people each year. Along with the food banks and pantries, Feeding America provides the following programs: Mobile Pantry Program, Disaster Food Assistance, Summer Child Nutrition Programs, Backpack Program, School Pantry Program, Kids Cafe, Senior Grocery Program and SNAP Outreach.

You can help too by donating to Feeding America’s many programs, volunteering or becoming an advocate. To learn more, visit www.feeedingamerica.org.

Food Security SOCIAL GOOD

Looking up to the Sky

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow”. –  Helen Keller

Lately I’ve been a lot of looking up. Craning my neck to look up to the sky and watch the clouds move or capture the illustrious hues of a summer sunset in Minnesota. For me, looking up has always been something that inspires me in a metaphorical kind of way. I often think about my favorite Helen Keller quote and of all the obstacles she had to overcome in life to achieve her dreams. I am reminded to look up more often instead of looking down or even worse, away.

Sunset Lake Calhoun, Minneapolis MN

I have been spending a lot more time this summer chasing the sunset. Perhaps getting a new puppy has inspired me to get out even more than I normally do (which is a lot as I love being outside). Yet little did I know how important it was to find peace and beauty each and every day by watching the sunset. Even if I only am there for a few brief moments to look up and capture the spectacular dance of changing colors and light, it has an extraordinary impact on me. I feel lighter footed when I leave and more connected to our planet and the comings and goings of each day. Furthermore, I finally feel at peace. 

CULTURE Global Issues TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY Weekly Photo Challenges

Why is it so hard to talk about race in America?

“Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and, hopefully, we shall overcome”. – Rosa Parks

I’ve always been an avid reader and the more I travel, the more I want to read and learn about different cultures and perspectives around the world. Lately however I’ve been on a quest to learn more about our own country and identity, and reexamine my own personal beliefs and perspectives. What is the American culture and where is it headed? As a nation based on immigration and “life, liberty and justice for all” why does racism and other intolerances and hatred still continue to exist and why does it exist so strongly?

Recent events have made me question our country and the intolerance of some people who judge others based on race, sex, homosexuality, class and religion. As these issues come to a head and play in our minds, some are improved (such as gay marriage rights) while others continue to be ignored. The increased police brutality against black young men has been on the news 24/7 yet has our conversation really even begin to touch the real roots of racism? Are we as a nation truly able to speak honestly and openly about race and what it means to be black in this country? No.

In order to answer these questions, I’ve done a lot of soul searching and reading. I devoured Maya Angelou’s famous book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and just last week I completed the brilliant novel “Americanah” by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which brings the issue of race, class and status of immigrants in America to an entirely new level. Quite honestly, this book has really made me think about race issues in America and in a very different, unsettling way. It has also dismantled the American Dream quite easily but I’ve never been that naive to believe that simply coming to America would be a cure for all.

Our multi-cultural team to Haiti. How I wish these lovely ladies all lived here!

Our multi-cultural team to Haiti. How I wish these lovely ladies all lived here! All my friends in Minnesota sadly look like me. Although the population has become much more ethnically diverse over the last 20 years, communities are still segregated economically and racially.

Global Issues Humanitarian SOCIAL GOOD

A small town celebration of the Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July all fellow Americans! Today is a day of celebration, family, watermelon, picnics, brats on the grill, parades and fireworks. Nothing could be better than spending it in small town America located in the heart of Minnesota’s northern lakes. My husband and kids even saw a bald eagle fly right over their head this morning as they were walking to our car. I can’t think of a more symbolic way to start off the day.

Minnesota TRAVEL BY REGION