More Than Words

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In the first grade I wrote my first story, a shameless rip-off of my favorite books, the Serendipity series. If you weren’t a 7-year-old in 1987 or the parent of one, these are short books about amazingly adorable animals, from thick-lashed baby dragons to unicorns who had princesses for best friends. I don’t have a copy of the story anymore, but if I remember correctly, it had a rabbit that had to hide from a hunter. Apparently, I was already into plot development. Luckily for the rabbit (and probably my school psychological profile), the fluffy little guy hopped away unscathed.

Pere Lachaise

Writing has always been in my head since then, even though through the years I suppressed it with desires to be a marine biologist, museum curator, and archaeologist. Finally I caved and moved my major to journalism, but my social anxiety caused me to seize up in terror at the thought of interviews and I, perhaps luckily, fell into editing. After taking a required copyediting course, I got a job at the university paper, and from there got the job I have now.

I think I fell into food much the same way. Living in Austin, where food is grown year-round and new restaurants are popping up every other week, makes it easy for anyone to turn into a food-obessessed freak. Somewhat naturally I turned this knowledge I was uncovering into fodder for the blog, and I was a writer, a food-based journalist, again. It wasn’t what I was expecting – after all, I’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month nine times and finished eight of those – but this is where I am. I write about food.

vday dessert

Is that enough? To write about cupcakes and jam and soup? For some it is. And I don’t begrudge that. But I don’t think there is anyone out there who doesn’t know what a cupcake is, and if they don’t, I bet they aren’t reading blogs. Ultimately, I want to use my words for good. To not just craft an essay you sink your teeth into. To bring awareness. To teach about real food. To teach that there are those for whom real food is only a whisper of an option.

Cherry tomatoes

Last year I participated in the Capital Area Food Bank’s Blogging for Hunger project and cooked my meals from a typical bag of groceries given out at a food bank. I reflected on the cost of food, the quality of food, and my memories of eating growing up. This year the project is back as part of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance, and we’re trying to use our words for good. To show that the SNAP program is an integral part of feeding undernourished families in our area and our country.

Strangely, in some parts of the country families can qualify for SNAP simply by signing up for state health insurance. Here in Texas, the application for an additional $16 of SNAP benefits is longer than the application for a handgun. Every day the need for food grows, and yet SNAP benefits are in real danger of having their funding drastically cut.

It’s hard for us, from our perch as food bloggers, to understand what it is like to go without food because it’s more important for our kids to eat. It’s hard for the public to remember that food is needed all year long, not just at Thanksgiving and Christmas when we remember the importance of giving.

Today is my 31st birthday. For every comment on this post from today through May 31, I’ll be donating $1 to the Capital Area Food Bank.*

Can you help feed your neighbors by leaving a comment?

Can you help by pledging an amount to donate, yourself?

*Up to $200, which is why I’m asking for you to pledge a little something as well. Together, can we raise $500 by June 1? Visit my donation page here to donate. If you’d like to donate a smaller amount (totally OK!) or use PayPal, let me know in the comments and I’ll e-mail you.

Share this post on Facebook. Tweet it. Mention it to your parents or co-workers. We don’t have to just be foodies who stuff ourselves on elite treats. Together, we can use our words for good.

86 Comments

  1. I have like 30 of those Serendipity books at home on my bookshelf! 🙂 So happy that someone else enjoyed them, too!

    Also happy that you’re using your birthday mojo to support CAFB. Happy birthday!!

  2. happy birthday Megan! i usually just creep on your blog, but thought i’d be noncreepy and leave a comment today. i enjoy your food/life adventures, and they’re always properly proofread 🙂 go Daily alums? (alumnus/alumni/alumna/alumnae)

  3. What a wonderful way to celebrate your birthday, Megan. You will always be a young mom to me! Also, gorgeous pics on this post!

  4. Happy Birthday! Hope this goes really well!! What a great way to raise funds. I work for a partner agency of the CAFB, so we’ll benefit greatly from your endeavor! Good luck!

  5. Happy Birthday! I had the Serendipity books as well as a kid – loved them then, love them now! (and so does my toddler – The Wheedle on the Needle is a favorite) Love what you’re doing – we’re also donating $1 for every comment on our CAFB/AFBA posts every Friday of this month 🙂
    Good work!

  6. Not an Austinite, but got my daily dose of @foodiethenew40 and landed here. Great idea, and I trust you’ll hit your 200 mark. Best wishes and happy birthday.

  7. Happy Birthday! I’m so proud of you and how just when I think your writing can’t get any better it does 🙂 Have a great birthday.

  8. Wonderful post! So sad to know that there are children and adults who are hungry every day in our city. (And I wanted to be an archeologist, too).

  9. happy birthday and thanks for a well written post. I am a long time supporter of many of the groups who help Austin be the kind of place that really shows compassion to those in need!

  10. Megan,

    Thanks for sharing your concern for our Austin neighbors. I truly enjoyed the frank honesty of your words.

    We all have a vague understanding that some folks here in our city are less fortunate. Until I began volunteering and advocating for Meals on Wheels, Austin Involved and CAFB, it was just an idea I did not like to think about too much. Now I know better. And I realize how much better it is for our community to get to know one another regardless of socio-economic status or neighborhood we live in.

    Donating money to help one another is great. Making community service and charity an integral part of each of our lives will serve to allow us to to continue being a good example for the rest of the country.

    Happy Birthday Megan!

  11. Do you have any idea how DAMNED PROUD I am of you? Or how much I love you and am totally amazed at what kind of person my wonderful daughter turned out to be? I am grinning ear to ear and also crying right now!
    Let me know what the total is and I will match it. I can match it for Austin, or for here in Lincoln, or anywhere you would like.
    *sniff sniff!*
    Have a wonderful day!! You make other’s days wonderful and you deserve that too!

  12. I wish I could say you’re catching up to me with his birthday, but I don’t think it works that way! Thanks for writing how you write and hope you have a great birthday!

    1. @Lewis,
      Thank you so much! That’s very kind of you. I hope you have a great weekend at the market!

  13. I can’t do much since finances are tight over here but I will do my best to send something. Such a wonderful cause to give to.

    Even though my husband works it’s becoming more difficult to put food on the table due to rising food costs and stagnant wages. Time to make changes while helping out others in need as well, people who are in greater need than us. No one should have to go hungry…ever.

    Thanks for doing your part in the community!

  14. ¡Feliz cumpleaños! Not an Austinite but ATXFoodNews pointed me your way. What a wonderful way to celebrate your birthday! Your mom’s comment choked me up, too. Thank you for raising awareness and may your kind gesture return to you threefold during your new year.

  15. I salvaged a few of my serendipity books from childhood too. I was the artist kid so I illustrated a handful of new stories myself- we should have teamed up as youngsters. Thanks for all that you do!

  16. donation made and thank you so much for this post. your sentiments on food blogging, and the state of food in this country resonate with mine.
    enjoy your birthday! 🙂

  17. Thanks for the inspiration, Megan. A healthy dose of real life mixed in with cupcakes and bacon is what makes food writing such a compelling medium and why we all fill our plates with it.

  18. Happy Birthday and what a fabulous idea. It’s amazing what families in this country have to go through just to get a solid, healthy meal on the table. It’s sadly frankly. Thank you for drawing attention to it.

  19. First; Happy Birthday. I’m privileged to know you; someone young in years but wise and caring beyond them. I hope you had a moment in your day to do something special for you.

    Second, I need to help. I think sometimes we have to give til it hurts and when I think of people in need so that they can feed their children…well, it hurts more not to give. So thanks for providing us with that opportunity; my gift to you is also your gift to me!

    Good luck with your drive!

  20. Happy birthday, Megan! What a great cause – thank you for doing this! When you have a chance, I’d love to get the PayPal info to make a donation. And, as soon as I read “Serendipity”, I envisioned the adorable dragon with the long lashes. I think that was my favorite of those books (seeing as I remember it, ah, yeah, more than 30 years later)!

    1. Thanks for the reminder, Megan. As soon as my delayed paycheck comes through, I’ll send some money along to the Food Bank. I haven’t for awhile!

  21. What a wonderful way to celebrate your birthday Megan! I contribute to the food bank where I live (Mississauga, Ontario. Good reminder to everyone that they need donations all year round.

  22. I enjoyed your delicous words. You are obviously a talented writer. May I ask in what genre your NANO books are written? (just curious)

  23. Despite the fact that I can recall my mom getting foodstamps for a short time when I was a kid, I have to admit I’ve never considered what it must be like to have your meals supplied by a food bank. Thank you for helping me be more conscious of others’ situations. And happy birthday!

  24. SO NEAT!!!!! happy birthday 😀

    and also, not that you need it… but i added you to the versatile blogger award list because you’re great and have such a wonderful blog!! just thought i’d tell you 😀

  25. Wonderful post, beautiful photographs all tied together with very meaningful and important words. Happy 31st birthday Megan, all the best to you for a great year and much success with your awareness campaign. Awesome way to pay it forward to those in need.

    P.S. I think you should still pursue that writing career. The first interview would be the hardest…after that the anxiety would be manageable:)

  26. As someone whose job and life have almost always revolved around food and agriculture in some form or another, I can understand your passion. And as someone whose job now focuses on helping end child hunger, I love your commitment to doing more for those who aren’t as fortunate. Happy Birthday and Best Wishes!

  27. Thanks for the reminder, Megan. As soon as my delayed paycheck comes through, I’ll send some money along to the Food Bank. I haven’t for awhile!

    (I mistyped my email address before. 🙁 )

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