It sounds ironic, doesn’t it? A Taste of Hunger? But, that is the name of a recent event held in Memphis. It was sponsored by Balmoral Presbyterian and the Memphis Jewish Federation Anti-Poverty Task Force to show the hunger in the surrounding area. The event invited many community leaders to the event to experience the local food disparity for themselves.
A few weeks ago, our pastor, who attended the event, told us that Memphis is one of the hungriest cities in the nation. The gallop poll showed that 26 percent of the people in Memphis said that they couldn’t buy food for their family in the past 12 months and that’s the highest percentage in the country.
I found that a bit hard to believe because Memphis also has a weight problem. I decided to do some research and learned that 130,000 families in Shelby County (where Memphis is) receive food stamps. So like our pastor said, many poor people can get food, but they only have enough money to buy high calorie, processed foods that aren’t nutritious. So, you can be hungry and fat.
Our pastor said he saw salmon being passed to those up front and thought, “Wow, I haven’t had any good salmon in a long time,” so he was excited at the prospect. Then, he saw other tables getting spaghetti and was less excited. When the waiters reached his table, they were given peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with chips – not the most nutritious of meals.
This staged scenario helped leaders in the room realize the “disparity of food security” in the Memphis area. The salmon represented the 40 percent in Shelby County that can afford nutritious meals. The spaghetti represented another 40 percent – those that were deemed the middle class. And the PB&J crowd represented the 20 percent who are food insecure, including many senior citizens in the area.
As they dined, the leaders discussed ways to change the food situation in Shelby County and help feed those in need.