I made sure my refrigerator and pantry were well stocked before I went into self-isolation mode. After just two weeks of pandemic stress eating, I ripped two pairs of jeans in the process of trying to pull them past my expanding thighs and waistline. Typically, it would bother me to be gaining weight and experiencing a decrease in wardrobe options. But my mind has been focused on the well-being of others during this scary time. Every time I think about how my life sucks in any way, especially concerning not being able to be out promoting my new trilogy as originally planned, I stop and think about people around the world who have real problems to deal with. I have absolutely nothing to complain about. I am blessed with loved ones who are healthy, a roof over my head, a husband who is still employed and willing to support his “starving artist” wife, and a house full of food.
Because I grew up in the 1970s and 80s and was raised Catholic, I was very aware of the starving children in Ethiopia and other pockets of the world. Sally Struthers, on behalf of the Christian Children’s Fund, and the writing on the Rice Bowl my catechism teachers gave to me each Lenten season, convinced me that it was my responsibility to help feed the children of the world. I have great empathy for people who don’t have enough food. When I had to fast for a colonoscopy last year, I was so traumatized by the one day of hunger I experienced that I promised myself if I ever had excess wealth I would help feed other people with it.
Today, if someone asked me about my income (which is zero), I wouldn’t say that I have excess money. But I think my ripped jeans would probably answer differently about my wealth—as would the bags of Ruffles potato chips and boxes of Little Debbie snack cakes that I’ve eaten the last couple weeks. I didn’t need to eat all the food I’ve eaten lately. I simply ate it because it was there—and I’m here, in my house, indefinitely, surrounded by what will probably be an unending supply of food. I am rich. Food rich.
I don’t know what it is to be truly hungry long-term. But plenty of people do. According to the U.S. Food Insecurity report of 2019, hunger was an issue for more than 37 million people. And now in 2020 we’ve got a pandemic circling the globe, and hunger is an even more serious problem with children not being able to attend school and families out of work. For many children, free meals at school are their main source of nutrition.
Because I feel that I have more than what I need (and my jeans agree), during the month of April I’m donating all profits from When Life Was Still book sales to FeedingAmerica.org. It’s America’s largest hunger-relief organization. Every dollar donated to Feeding America can provide ten meals to people through its food bank network. A pandemic is a great time to read—and to give to people in need. If you’ve been considering buying one of my books, now is a great time to do it because, in doing so, together we’ll be fighting hunger.
And if you have no interest in buying my books, please consider donating to FeedingAmerica.org or to your local food shelf. We can’t control what happens to the world with the coronavirus right now, but we can do something to make sure our neighbors don’t go hungry during this pandemic.
© 2020 by Julie Ryan. All rights reserved
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