Hunger Action Week: Final Thoughts

Last week, KEXP took part in Hunger Action Week, an exercise in empathy where the United Way of King County asked the community to try to eat on just $7, the maximum daily benefit for a person on food stamps.  KEXP DJ’s and staff accepted the challenge, and wrote about their experiences for the KEXP Blog. (You can read the week’s entries here.)

Here are some final thoughts on the challenge from our DJ El Toro:

Well, that was a lesson in humility: The Hunger Challenge turned out to be much tougher than I anticipated. Even with my carefully proscribed shopping list of groceries, designed to last me the week, by Day 4 I was suffering from debilitating headaches. Come Day 5, my resolve had started to slip and I was dipping into non-Hunger Challenge items in my pantry. My body basically rebelled against such a limited diet. I was lethargic, grouchy, and unfocused on $7/day. When I resumed eating like “normal” on Sunday, I could feel a profound difference in my disposition and energy levels.

I walked away from the Hunger Challenge doubting that $7/day is sufficient to feed a hard-working individual (though I appreciate all the tips from listeners on how to stretch the $7/day budget). Such limited means left almost no flexibility for the unexpected, and it was nigh impossible to purchase adequate amounts of nutrient-rich fresh fruits and vegetables while still getting carbohydrates and protein for energy. Ugh. I feel more committed than ever to my personal fight to break the stranglehold that big, corporate food has on our nation. People need access to better, reasonably priced food and adequate. easy-to-understand information on how to eat correctly. Heck, if you can’t afford to purchase groceries, you sure as hell can’t afford all the expensive health complications that ensue as a consequence of poor nutrition.

And some final thoughts from Programming Assistant, Janice Headley:

The Hunger Challenge was a huge fail for me, although in my grief, I probably never had a chance. I wonder if I could’ve done a better job had my beloved cat not passed away the Sunday before Hunger Action Week began. Instead, I dragged myself through the week with no appetite at all, and worried people kept feeding me, even though it was an infringement of Rule #4.

But, like DJ El Toro, once I started eating again this past weekend, I noticed I started to feel better. I bought fruit, eggs, and healthy grains, and could immediately detect a pronounced difference in the way I was able to manage my grief.

It makes me sad that so many people in our community have to struggle with this everyday. I wish everyone had access to healthy food to help them stay strong as they deal with stress, loss, and adversity. I hope Seattle is able to support the hungry people in our community, the way my wonderful friends have supported me through this difficult week.

Rest in peace, my beautiful Ethel Kitty. Your family misses you everyday.

DJ El Toro hosts the variety mix show on Wednesday nights from 9 PM to 1 AM on KEXP 90.3 FM Seattle and His weekly rant, “Weird At My School,” appears infrequently on the KEXP Blog. Please follow DJ El Toro (aka Kurt B. Reighley) on Twitter and/or Tumblr!

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