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Essay: Food Insecure

When we adopted our cat, Rosie, we only knew that she had been a stray and was very shy. We soon learned that she was also very hungry. Hungry for anything we put in her bowl. I’d had many other cats and usually they had preferences—not this kind of kibble, not these treats.

Not Rosie. She raced to her bowl as if she were starving and ate every bite. So, instead of putting all the food out in the morning, I started feeding her several times a day. As soon as she figured out this schedule, she began to meow for food right on time.

That was seven years ago and she still meows—even louder. She’s a lot less shy, but not less anxious about food. I suspect this will never change.

Early deprivation casts a long shadow. I have come to recognize this in myself, how the things I didn’t get enough of as a child can still be a source of anxiety. Approval, belonging, love. I know I’m a grown-up now with more resources and awareness, but sometimes the bowl looks empty. Sometimes I fear rejection, criticism, abandonment.

Because food insecurity is not just about food. It’s about survival and we all struggle. Rosie meows and I reach for the kibble.

Karen Anderson contributes "Essays by Karen Anderson" to Interlochen Public Radio.