What Does Hunger Do to Us?
August 8, 2017 | Wendy Hu
When was the last time you were “hangry”? For some of us it happens more frequently than others. That feeling of irritation, exhaustion, lack of interest, and hunger all at the same time. Sometimes you can’t quite put your finger on what is making you so impatient and irritated until you take your first few bites of a delicious sandwich. But what causes this feeling of “hanger”? What is happening to your brain to cause this mood swing? During our “hangry” period, which is typically the first 6 hours after we stop eating food, our brain is not receiving enough glycogen as an energy source. It becomes fatigued, and that causes the "hangry" feeling. Normally, once the nutrient is supplemented again, our mood and energy level returns to usual, and the “hangry” feeling goes away.
However, what happens to our brain when it has to endure longer periods of hunger? Physiologically, common signs include weight loss, decreased strength, lower stamina, lower body temperature, slower heart rate, and decreased sex drive. Hunger is a matter of survival. It affects more than what we see physically. When your body is depleted of basic biological fuel, your cognitive function slows down and your ability to work could be negatively affected. We are privileged to always to be able to grab a bite whenever we feel hungry or “hangry,” but that’s not the case for a lot of people in the world. Over 40 million Americans are affected by daily food insecurity, meaning that they do not know where they will find their next meal. Of those people, 17 million are children suffering from hunger. Specifically, in St. Louis, 135,000 kids are at risk for hunger– enough to fill Busch Stadium three times. In Missouri, approximately 1 out of every 4 kids must confront hunger, and the state has the fifth highest rate of childhood food insecurity. Our neighbors often must face the difficult choice of either paying for housing, medicine, or food. Fortunately, there are always people in the community volunteering to help out in pantries and to donate food and money.
We need to work hard year round to alleviate the ongoing hunger problem in our communities. This is where we come in. GiftAMeal is a small step to add to your hunger fighting repertoire (in addition to volunteering and donating) to help alleviate the hunger problem found across the United States. GiftAMeal is a mobile app that provides a meal to someone in need every time you take a picture at a partner restaurant on the app. We collaborate with food banks and local restaurants in the St. Louis, Chicago, and Detroit areas to help fight hunger. So far, we have helped provide more than 60,000 meals. You can join us to help people in need by simply downloading the free app and taking photos at partnered restaurants! Next time you are grabbing a bite to fight your “hanger”, don’t forget to use GiftAMeal to fight hunger in your community at the same time!
1 Baker, D., & Keramidas, N, 2013
2 U.S. Census Bureau 2010 stats
3 Give Thanks Give Back