Let’s Break Bread


My brother is, and has always been, what you might call a picky eater.  

As a kid, I played the consummate little sister and copied everything he did, so I too agreed that fish, vegetables, and anything but a combination of carbs and cheese was disgusting.  I would go to birthday parties and inform the parents that I did not like pizza or soda.  Eventually I realized that I like most everything.  On the other hand, if someone invented a pill to give you all your nutritional and caloric needs, Sam would gladly take it.  Every day.

The thing is, as kids, we had the luxury of being picky eaters.  Today, I may not like to cook, but I do like to eat, and again I have the luxury and privilege of choice.  Not everyone does.

According to the USDA’s Current Population Survey Food Security Supplement, in 2020 only 6.7 percent of all U.S. households used a food pantry, an all-time high since reporting began in 2001.  More than 10 percent of all households are food insecure, meaning at some point in the last year there was not enough money to provide food for all members of the household.  That’s 13.8 million households and 38.3 million people.  For households with children, that percentage increases to 14.8 percent.

In 2019, the writer Deborah Joy Corey founded a nonprofit called Blue Angel, which provides fresh produce and other healthy food from local farmers to food insecure families in Maine. But how to draw attention to it?  Enter the new anthology, “BREAKING BREAD: Essays from New England on Food, Hunger, and Family,” edited by Corey and Debra Spark, which not only opens up a conversation about hunger in New England via 70 New England writers. Profits from the collection will benefit Blue Angel.

Truly, BREAKING BREAD features a who’s who of writers from the Eastern seaboard, from Richard Russo and Richard Ford to Susan Minot, Jennifer Finney Boylan, Cristina Baker Kline, Roxana Robinson, and everyone in between.  

Most notably, we’ll be hosting an event on Sunday, May 22 at 1 p.m. at the Channel Marker Brewing taproom located at 95 Rantoul Street in Beverly to celebrate the publication of the book.  

Contributors Jane Brox, Kathy Gunst, and Lily King will be there to share their own stories from the collection and food memories from growing up and living in New England.

Attendees can bring food and personal hygiene donations to the event, which we’ll then deliver to Beverly Bootstraps.  The top 10 items requested by Beverly Bootstraps include peanut butter, boxed pasta, mac & cheese, canned veggies, diapers and baby wipes, cereal, tuna fish, cooking oils, soup, and personal hygiene products like shampoo/conditioner, soap, deodorant, razors, toothbrushes and toothpaste.

The essays in the anthology are short and easily digestible (see what I did there?), a pleasure to dip in and out of.  Some are nostalgic, some are instructive, many recall a childhood of insufficiency.  All of them celebrate this great region we live in and the food unique to it.

Dive in!

susan minot, healthy food, food, debra spark, richard russo, roxana robinson, usda, food insecure families, jane brox, richard ford, cristina baker kline, jennifer finney boylan, beverly bootstraps, kathy gunst, deborah joy corey, food pantry, hygiene, urban agriculture