Eat your greens…

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22 August 2015

Eat your greens…

Feed_The_World_LogoMemories from childhood can take you by the throat and grab you in the most unexpected ways: I was reading an article in the BBC magazine by Colm O’Regan, in which he recalled his mother’s insistence on clearing plates at mealtimes, and I was taken straight into the back-alley of my childhood, fending off memories of mealtimes, complete with starched table cloth and place mats.

Mealtimes were an emotive affair in the sixties. Much parental effort had gone into both affording and preparing our meals. The concept of takeaways or ready prepared food was almost unheard of-unless you count fish and chips. Meals were laboriously prepared from scratch and a good helping of guilt seasoned them.

Wasting them was not an option.

“I’ve been slaving over a hot stove for hours making your suet pudding and cabbage, (insert any food item here that had been boiled for at least three hours, creating enough condensation and steam to populate any self-respecting health club) the least you can do is eat it up like a good girl.”

“But I’m not hungry/don’t like tripe.”

“You wicked child, you should be grateful to have anything at all. Think about those poor, starving children in Biafra! (Feel free to substitute any famine-ridden venue of the 1960s here) They would be only too grateful to have this.”

Surprisingly, my riposte of, “Well they can have it then,” never went down that well.

Spoiling one’s appetite was a capital offence in those days, and a request for anything to eat between meals produced a typical response along the ‘bread and butter’ lines. Refusal of this delicacy met with the inevitable, “you can’t be really hungry then.”


There are few times in my life when I have been really hungry. No, scrub that, there are NO times. Not ‘really hungry’, nor ‘starving’, or ‘ravenous’ although we use these words very freely when describing our hunger.

No, luckily for most of us, the true use of these terms is limited to an unfortunate group of children.  When I use the term limited, I don’t mean that few children suffer from hunger or poor nutrition. In fact, ‘Black et al (2013) estimate that undernutrition …is a cause of 3·1 million child deaths annually or 45% of all child deaths in 2011’

3.1 million? That’s three point one MILLION children who die as a result of not getting enough nutrition. Awful as this is, it’s not a new situation. Many of you will remember appeals, such as Band Aid’s  song, ‘Feed the World’ (1984), which tried to tackle world hunger. (If by any chance you have been sleeping for the last 30 years, or you are very young and haven’t heard it, follow this link:

But the fact that it’s not a new situation makes it worse, not better. We’ve known about hunger for years, and yet we carry blithely on, overeating or watching Masterchef contestants fiddle with a nanometre of meat or veg to create something to sell for £80 in a Michelin starred kitchen. Oh yes, I watch it too….

But there are those who care enough to do something about it, and KOST’s supporters are such people. Obviously, KOST can’t quite feed the whole world, (although wouldn’t it be nice…) but they do ensure the proper nutrition of children in their care, while none of them go hungry. Gill Waterhouse writes that:  ‘The children well fed, all receiving three balanced, nutritious meals every day.  The home follows a weekly food plan that is varied and includes beans and other vegetables grown locally, fish, milk, fruit, bread, porridge etc.  Ugali is served with lots of the meals, which is very popular in Kenya and all over Africa.   There are lots of small scale ‘farmers’ in the area and we buy from them where we can.

There is no refrigeration or modern appliances for the cooking.  The two cooks prepare the food by hand and cook over a charcoal stove to provide all the meals.  As well as cooking for resident children, our visiting secondary school students and children coming for temporary stays are all catered for within the food budget.

When children visit their families at school holiday time we provide them with a food parcel to take home.  This is gratefully received by the families, especially those with many mouths to feed.’


Right, must go; I have a few mouths to feed also -time to put the dinner on. But to be honest, I’m not really hungry…. Colm O’Regan’s article

“There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.”
Mahatma Gandhi


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