News and Events

The Cupboard is Bare: I Don't Know How to Treat Hunger

I am proud to be taking part in Blog Action Day OCT 16 2011 www.blogactionday.orgTwo nights ago I had a wonderful Mahi Mahi filet served over pasta. It was more than I could finish. After dinner I took a walk in the shopping areas and box stores near my hotel. As I walked past the Home Dept I noticed a huge display of hundreds of pumpkins. What an amazing country we live in that we can use crop land to grow hundreds of thousands of pumpkins that are decorative items for a few weeks a year. More power to the people that can grow and sell these pumpkins to us. This summer we gave up on our own gardening aspirations and let a couple of pumpkin vines overrun what used to be our own attempt at growing vegetables.

Some Food Will Help You Feel Better
Our patient was in her mid-twenties. He apartment was tidy and a young child scampered around the sofa cushions as we assessed her mom. It was Friday evening and mom looked physically and emotionally exhausted. She had felt faint when she got home, laid down on the couch and when her child couldn’t wake up mom she called 911. Mom had no significant medical history, her vital signs were near normal, and she had no pain. She didn’t feel sick, just a little light headed and off her game. She was adamant that she wasn’t pregnant and didn’t have a history of seizures. We didn’t observe any tell-tale signs of her being post-ical like incontinence or steadily improving mental status. He blood sugar was 90 and she had no history of diabetes.

“When and what did you eat last?” I asked.

She told me she had some toast and coffee in the morning.

“Do you think you are just hungry?”

As I asked that question I looked around the apartment and started noticing a few things … the TV was off and unplugged, there were no dirty dishes on the counter, no empty drink glasses on the coffee table, and the trash can in the kitchen was empty.

“Maybe,” she replied.

I asked her again if she wanted to go to the hospital.

“No, I will be fine. I probably just need some sleep.”

“Some food will probably help you feel better,” I added, but with hollowness in my heart and voice that there was no food in this apartment. Nothing. The child probably had breakfast and lunch at school while her mom was at her temp job.

I looked down at our jump bag. Nothing in there fixes hungry. We had drugs, splints, cravats, and all sorts of supplies to fix illness and injury, but nothing to fix hungry.

I could feel my phone tugging my front shirt pocket away from my chest. I didn’t even know who to call in our community. Mom, with young child, that needs food was not in my speed dial.

Of course hunger is not a typical EMS problem, but this kid recognized mom had fainted and call 911 – the right thing to do. This family was on the edge, about to fall, and I didn’t have a life line.

We slowly packed up our stuff. All I could meekly offer was, “maybe you could call someone.”

I Don’t Know Hunger
I am so lucky. I can afford to be a picky eater. I can leave a meal half-eaten. I can buy organic milk instead of other milk. Or I can simply buy milk instead of drinking only water.

Many of you live in this same world of food abundance as I do, but we are surrounded by neighbors that either don’t have enough food or enough resources for better food. I don’t have any tips or tricks or resources to share.

Today is Blog Action Day 2011 and the topic is food. Today I am thinking about the hungry in my community and will be keeping my eyes, ears, and mind open for opportunities so next time I see “Hungry” I can fix it.

Learn more about Blog Action Day 2011.


By Greg Friese

Greg Friese, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, is an author, educator, paramedic, and marathon runner.

Greg was the co-host of the award winning EMSEduCast podcast, the only podcast by and for EMS educators. Greg has written for,, Wilderness Medical Associates, JEMS Magazine, and EMS World Magazine, and the NAEMSE Educator Newsletter.