I come from Africa and I attend talks at a medical research lab, many of which often end up involving malnutrition for obvious reasons.
I have seen a lot of research talking about how malnutrition affects kids intellectual abilities, immunity and more. This is not a problem we are just begining to understand.
It's also fairly common knowledge that children who get malnourised never catch up in many facets of life.
That is the equivalent of 3 hours of work at minimum wage in the UK, and if that is an amount an individual is unable to spare, then that person clearly qualifies for governmental assistance, especially one with three dependent children.
EDIT: See below comment for satisfying the calorie requirements on $1 a day, or consider that you can get 1 kg of rice for £0.45 which contains 3,650 calories.
I got by on about $20/mo (in addition to free food). I would heat a solitary potato in a toaster oven for breakfast. Just the potato. After bumming a ride to high school, I would wait until lunch. I had Free Lunch (I was poor). That was usually a hamburger, a milk, and something resembling some kind of vegetable approximation. I would steal one additional hamburger and sell it for $0.50 or $0.75 (don't recall which) which was a deal to the other person. On the way home, I would stop by the store and turn that profit into a single can of Campbell's soup. Rinse and repeat. Sometimes, I could not get a hamburger to steal, so no dinner. Nothing on the weekend unless I could bum food at friend's houses (worked out more often than it probably should have). When I got to university, I could reliably get closer to $2/day and that meant that I could get a Jumbo Jack and two tacos for lunch. If I chose to not eat for a few days, I could get a Little Caesar's pizza.
There were periods of more food or less. Things got better over time. By my second year at university, my then-girlfriend-now-wife and I (and our small kid) were eating regularly. I think our budget was $30/week. I put on like 60lbs in two or three months. I had folks I barely knew tell me I was looking better. But man, I can recall just wanting enough liquidity to be able to afford a dang pizza. That lasted until well after getting my degree.
So, more crazy story time. When my dad took his hiatus, he left the house in a state of semi-construction. He had tore down a wall to do some addition (really, no clue how he was planning on affording that). That made heating kinda hard in the mountains in winter haha. Winters would get down into the 20s (f) at times. I mostly kept to the back bedroom at that point (where the wood stove was) and took some plastic sheeting and made a partial barrier to channel some heat into the restroom. I once came home to find that raccoons had tore up all my food stores. As I was cleaning up, they tried to come back to get "their" food. Stubborn things. I was throwing stuff and shouting at them and they were just like, "yo, bro, you done? we gots to eat." Finally ran them off. Learned to be better about how I stored any extra food I might scavenge up.
To add some more color, this above was when I was about 17. Two years prior, I became a dad. So my then-girlfriend-now-wife (still together 20+ years later, and I'm paying for my oldest to go to college which feels nice) was living at a way different spot on the mountain. So I would get rides for the ~50 miles or so over to her place on weekends when I could. I did not live with her at the time for a couple of reasons. Most of which was I was determined to graduate high school and get into college, but also her situation was not much better than mine aside from some state aid.
Eventually, graduated high school, got a (nearly) full academic scholarship to a nearby university. By the second year, an uncle had given me a small truck so I was mobile and able to do graphic design work for the university. My wife and I were able afford a (very) small wedding and move in together. Things have been hard, but they always are getting better. I've worked in photography and design during school, after in insurance, stocks and mutual funds, I've been a math teacher, did some construction, and most recently I am a software developer. I've really found my calling here and I have been blessed with a fantastic company to work for, great friends at work, a healthy family (now three kids), and a very supportive wife. We are living the dream and we are so very far removed from our humble beginnings. It really was a lifetime ago. I really don't regret a thing (though it would have been nice to have been as well off as we are now much earlier haha). I've known folks with really messed up history and I've heard real horror stories of how others have grown up. My story is really not all that bad.
Poverty is not simply a problem of money, but of time and opportunity as well. When you're poor, you can't take advantage of opportunities to save money, because your needs are immediate, your coffers low, and your ability to store limited. You work long hours, hungry all the time, and then go home exhausted, unable to even think about spending time planning and preparing meals or dealing with the growing mountain of paperwork, or worrying about what broke that needs fixing.
I've been in this situation, and it's not fun. At one point, I spent a month living on bean sprouts and instant ramen, because that was the only thing within walking range that was chaep. You get calories, yes, so you don't die. But your brain suffers, your judgment suffers, and you're tired all the time. I'm shocked I didn't get scurvy, tbh.
When you're in the poverty spiral, it's almost impossibly difficult to pull yourself out.
- like you said, I was constantly tired because of the constant feeling of hunger. I was mostly one minded, thinking about how to get any food.
- I was also grumpy (low blood sugar), didn't talk almost at all (although I was sharing my room with other people so there was plenty of opportunity to speak). Also made me feel like the lowest person around, useless, because I would just wait around until my room mates would prepare something to eat hoping that they'd invite me to share, that was really bad for self esteem. I was starting to think (could be real, but in my state of mind at the time I can't be sure) that my room mates were going hungry/delaying eating to avoid me being there so I started going out just to let them eat and not feel bad of not being able to share
- it didn't help that I got fired from my first job after 2 weeks of work (and they didn't pay me anything)
I got out of it by blind luck, a friend found someone that was looking to hire someone with my skills and told me about it.
1. Cooking skills
2. Awareness of these cheap ingredients
I took basic nutrition and cooking classes as a kid. Many people in lower income areas do not have that opportunity.
Cooking skills are hardly a skill. 10 minutes watching a youtube video once should give you all the knowledge you need to cook almost anything. Baking can be more of a challenge, but anything involving a frying pan or a pot? I'd be legitimately worried if you can't figure that out within an hour.
I'll give you 2, and to a lesser extent 3, as knowing where to buy produce cheaply, and what meals can be cooked in under 15 minutes, does take a little more effort. But using "I don't know how to cook" as an excuse is more of a sign of raw ignorance to me. Putting a cup of rice in a rice cooker and a chicken breast on a stove is not difficult.
But using "I don't know how to cook" as an excuse is more of a sign of raw ignorance to me.
That wasn't what was said, and misrepresenting the content of other people's posts is a sign of raw trolling to me.
Once budget isn't a concern, buy a sous-vide machine and your chances of screwing up your cooking go down drastically.
Okay come on here, you know I did not post this to attack cooking as a profession. I have no doubt that you can make a tastier dish then I can.
My point was only that the basics of cooking is incredibly easy. One pot meals for example are exactly that, dump things in a pot and cook them. Even screwing up the order in something like Chili will still give you an eatable, tasty meal.
>You talk like someone who has never cooked anything outside of a microwave.
I have, and generally they act like it's a hard undertaking, so I give them easy recipes. Chili, Bratwurst, Curry, these are all meals that can be made in a limited number of dishes on the cheap. Serve with rice, and you can drastically cut your food cost.
EDIT: Honestly, I thought you were saying I hadn't talked to people who haven't cooked outside a microwave. I didn't realize you were actually attacking me. I've cooked quite a bit outside of a microwave, thank you.
I called blaming cooking skills an act of raw ignorance. And I'll stand by that, even if people here feel the need to downvote me for it. There are thousands of meals that can be made with bare minimum skill, if you can cut a vegetable or put something in a pan.
Knowing what meals to make is admittedly harder, which is why I said so in my comment. But saying "I don't know how to cook" is not a valid excuse.
Also, if all you have is a couple dollars, you probably can't even buy the ingredients. It's always cheaper in bulk, at membership stores like Costco that you can't afford.
You can get free internet access for short periods at public libraries.
Granted you do have to know about it in the first place.
If a kid isn't being fed it isn't for lack of funds, it's some other dysfunction. I have no doubt such dysfunction is indeed prevalent, but correcting it would involve a direct intervention of the day to day behavior of individuals. And while it may be easy to hypothesize about such a world from the comfort of your $5000/month Seattle apartment, in the real world people -- including both the parents and the kids you have in mind -- don't want it, will resist it and so the whole thing becomes another shit show at the end of which you'll still have kids going hungry.
Other than that sure you can eat fairly well on $4/day - if you have decent access to stores, storage to stockpile bulk purchases when on sale and appropriate pots/pans/knives, a stove, perhaps an oven, refrigeration, etc.
There are a lot of people who lack several of those prerequisites.
There has been a huge push of a narrative to that effect. Actual USDA enrollment rate data doesn't reflect much success in these supposed policies however; current enrollment (over 40 million) is far above any point in the 90s (less than 30 million.)
Please describe how a person can eat for $30/month
it's not the tastiest of food and it'll be mostly the same, but it can be done.
Other staples such as oats, beans, pasta are at similar prices (1kg of oats can be found as low as £0.75 and contains 3650 calories) and can provide additional nutritional diversity, but there is no question that you can meet your minimum calorie requirements with $1/day, at least in the UK.
This may not be the most appealing diet to some (although spices go a long way into making cheap palatable dishes), but if the alternative is going so hungry you are unable to move without grabbing on to furniture, you cannot afford to complain about the taste of a bland bowl of a rice.
I doubt that would be sustainable over the long term.
Obviously you'd obviously want to find ways to increase your income in order to have more than a $1/day to spend on food, but you'll never get there if you're starving.
Once you get up to $5 a day per person it really feels like you can eat any thing, once you start following a budget. I've met people with budgets around $400 a month for one person, though that usually includes a lot of eating out.
US currency, by the way.
https://youtu.be/xEeoZYpa5wY?t=95 (it's in Hindi, but you don't really need to understand necessarily, looks authentic).
There is this great study of Indian girls adopted from an orphanage into Western families. After being adopted, the girls reached menarche at the ages of 7 or 8. The evolutionary signals are clear: if you are starving and then get a huge influx of calories, your body interprets this as temporary so you better reproduce while the going is good.
What a strange situation we have where there are people simultaneously starving with insufficient food and nutrition, and also a massive population that is dramatically overfeeding their way into catastrophic health problems.
When younger, I was hungry in school and would sometimes be in pain from it. Never stopped worrying about food ever since. Most of my anxiety is gone now, but I keep cat food just in case and insects(mealworms) as a secondary food source should things ever go so bad that everything falls appart.
For example some "food deserts" exist where the most available food is also the least healthy.
Seriously though, our middle child won't eat anything. He basically subsist on baby carrots and chicken nuggets. He's been like that since he was 3 years old. We thought he'd eventually outgrow it, but he is 14 now and is about 18" shorter than all his peers. We've taken him to doctors and psychologists and other people who specialize in this kind of stuff to no avail. I can't help wondering if he will be similarly affected as mentioned in the article.
At 25, I took a long hike with a good friend. Afterwards, we stopped at a Thai restaurant, I ordered a garden salad. Halfway through, I looked at my friend's chicken basil and thought, "My aversion to new food is purely mental. I can do this." I took a bite of his chicken, it was the first meat I'd tried without it being coerced, I tried not to overthink it and found that I enjoyed it. I ordered the same dish for myself. Within a few months I was eating beef tongue, oysters, roasted ants, you name it.
I'm not sure if my parents would have been able to break me out of my pickiness. If I overthought what I was eating, I'd gag, and I think that was the original seed of the issue. That's an unpleasant and embarrassing experience, and I think it happened very early in my life, earlier than I can remember. So I believe I developed an aversion to trying new food, and the overthinking/gagging became a self-reinforcing cycle.
What seemed to work for me was the combination of being tired and truly hungry — not just "I want to eat" but "my body desperately needs sustenance" hungry — along with being hours from home and in a place where everything on the menu was foreign to me. I don't know if you can replicate this scenario with your 14 year old, and I don't know if it would have worked for me at 14. Maybe I was just ready for a change in my life. But being malnourished affected me negatively, and I wish I had resolved it at 14 when I was still developing, rather than 25 when it was too late.
Nutricion during early days is crucial as it allows your brain and organs to develop faster, better.
I know as a parent i shouldnt force food on my kids but i am and i will keep on doing that knowing how big of an impact it will have on their life later on.
Nooo, that was the source of the problem with me.
Only at 30 am I slowly trying things I wouldn't before, because I live alone and there's no one to see me gag and toss the meal in the garbage if I truly don't like it.
As an example: At a food science exhibit about the interaction between senses, I tried biting on a cube of fairly mild cheddar while sniffing at a vial of onion aroma. Cheese and onion? No issue! However, literally as soon as I moved the vial away from my nose and I got the leftover cheese flavour alone, I started gagging and retching. As a foodie this bothers me to no end, but I just can’t do it.
Pizza, for example, I cook until the cheese is browned and no longer gooey.
It's so much easier to just say I don't like cheese than try to explain this to people. Too many will cook it gooey then tell me "this way it's not burnt"...
Lo and behold, in a few months, I was eating terrible tasting mess food that I wouldn't have otherwise touched back home.
He's just 14. It may just take policies that are more radical than you probably like or endorse.
Nobody suggested force feeding. Probably because it's a terrible idea.
You unceremoniously, and disinterestedly put food in front of them and when the meal is over, there's no more food available from any other source.
At 14yo it's too late for this, but for other readers, this will involve at most 1-3 days of annoyance and disruption. They'll be hungry and eat the food and you'll have quickly ripped off that band-aid instead of slowly, excruciatingly peeled it off bit by bit over the entire course of their childhood - which is a good metaphor for a lot of parenting.
This relates to one of the best pieces of parenting advice I ever heard: You almost never see a child throw a fit/tantrum about being put into a carseat. Why ? Because it has never worked. No matter what they do or say or scream, they know they're going in that carseat. If you see a fit/tantrum/stubbornness its because they know there's a chance you'll relent ...
Stop buying nuggets and start putting real food on the table
Does't want to eat? Too bad, maybe next time
This is the same behaviour as with morbidly obese people. If you can't get out of bed by yourself you're not getting food. PERIOD
The mother in the story volunteered at a food bank, because she was afraid and ashamed to apply for the food vouchers themselves, for gods sake - are you serious when you say "I can't help wondering if he will be similarly affected as mentioned in the article"? The child in the article forced his emaciated mother to drink the entire glass of milk in front of him out of fear of her own safety and clear malnourishment. THAT is the trauma and anxiety that damages children growing up, not a mediocre cordon bleu. Does this sound like your situation at all?
Think about it. Have you ever, in your career, worked late into the night because you WANTED to? Now think about another time you worked very late because you HAD to. There is a massive difference in stress and the effect on mental health.
In conclusion: yes, it's better to choose to go to bed hungry than to literally be starving and be unable to get food. Your kid is gonna be alright, this is the perfect time to take a step back and be THANKFUL for having what the kids and parents in the story do not have.
A child and mother who suffer from malnourishment and must rely on food stamps, who had a single glass of milk for dinner, vs. picky eater kid who threw a tantrum and went to sleep hungry instead of eating cordon bleu.
I have a close family member who has an eating issue like what's described in the comment I was replying to. I also went to high school with several kids who admitted that they grew up waking up in the mornings not knowing if they would eat that day. The situations are not comparable.
Celiac's bodies attack themselves when they eat gluten. This ends up wrecking the small intestine and can lead to nutrients not being absorbed. It also gave me awful sinus headaches which is why (until I became more aware of it) I was incredibly averse to food.
When the national news is focused on the crisis of someone making a boorish remark, you know life is good in America.
(Depending on who you ask: Scotland is the least ambiguous, England is also a country, but Wales is sometimes a country and sometimes a principality of England, and NI is sometimes a region (either ‘occupied by the UK’ or ‘part of the UK’) and sometimes a country).
FWIW, wikipedia says "The United Kingdom (UK), officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and sometimes referred to as Britain,[note 10] is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland."
Note the words "sovereign country"
> The United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
So, I guess the confusion is in having a country with countries inside. Personally, I don't know what's going on there.
Whether or not a country is a country is inherently entirely determined by whether or not other countries agree it is a country, and any other distinction between what is and is not a country is largely meaningless.