Yesterday I drove past a pawn shop in Portland whose sign said, 'It's Yesvember! Come sell your gold to us.' I had driven miles past the sign before I figured out that it was contrasting (Yes) vember to (No) vember. Duh.
The sign started me thinking about the food stamp cuts that happened in the beginning of this month, when the government cut $5 billion dollars from the program. What would it mean to have the government say 'no' to the funds that kept you and your family from going hungry?
In this article by the L.A. Times, a woman they interviewed said, "The impoverished are forced to eat junk food if we want to eat."
I spent a while mourning the five billion dollars I don't have to fix the program. And then I thought, Maybe billions of dollars aren't the solution.
If one in five households is on food stamps, that means that there's probably someone in our apartment building or condo complex or neighborhood who's on food stamps. If each of us reached out to our neighbor, we wouldn't need billions of dollars. And if we kept it up, or at least contributed to a local food bank, we might not need food stamps at all.
And maybe, I thought, it would be even more fun if we didn't take a meal to someone, but shared the meal with them. Maybe it doesn't take a four-course dinner at a restaurant with tablecloths and candles to make people feel well-fed. Maybe it's eating a meal together that turns some simple food into a feast.
Once upon a time I was the director of a nutrition clinic, and when I read the woman's quote, who said that people would be forced to eat junk food, it made my heart sink. I thought, We can do better than that.
So I thought I'd do what I can -- which is post a healthy meal idea every day for the 30 days of November that people on a budget can make for themselves, or that you could easily make for a friend or neighbor who might need a little extra help this month.
Does it solve everything? No. People are still suffering, many live in food deserts where they have to take public transportation for miles to get to a grocery store, and some live in temporary housing where they have limited or no access to appliances to use for cooking. I get that.
But it's an interesting idea, right? And these recipes are inexpensive, easy to make, and are pretty healthy -- meaning most are plant-based and are less than 500 cal/serving. It's not the whole solution, but it could be a good start.
Instead of repeating the 'no' of budget cuts and spending restrictions and empty plates, let's say yes this month. Yes to loving our neighbor, yes to providing them food that will contribute to health instead of disease, yes to community over isolation.
It's time to celebrate (Yes)vember.
Are you in?