When I was a child, every year on my birthday, my mom would ask, “If you could have any meal you want, what would it be?”
I always replied, “Spaghetti and meat sauce!” I just loved spaghetti! At every restaurant where it was offered, my parents knew that dish would be my pick. But there was something different about the way my mom made pasta.
As a military family, my mom learned to make her sauce in Italy. Each bite of her pasta took me back to sitting in a locally owned Italian restaurant as a small child.
On my birthday, I’d come home from school and the aroma of fresh pasta sauce would fill the air. I’d run to the kitchen and there would be my mom, chopping fresh onions, pressing garlic, preparing the meat … adding everything together … the smell of basil and parsley filling the air. My mouth would water with excitement as I ran upstairs to do my homework and anxiously await this meal.
When dinnertime came, my siblings and I would portion out our pasta, gather around the table to say grace, and race to put our napkins in our laps. If you were caught without a napkin in your lap, you would be sent to your room to count to 25. This ritual only added to the excitement of mealtime.
As the meal began, the anticipation of that first bite was almost as satisfying as twirling the noodles around my fork and placing the first taste in my mouth. I would devour three plates exactly, leaving barely enough room for the birthday cake my mother had prepared.
This meal meant more than the world to me because it was prepared just for ME! And not only that, but the people gathered round the table were so excited to share it and celebrate my birth!
Growing up, I always wondered if every child had a mom who could make such yummy food. Through the experiences God has led me to, I’ve learned that not only do most not have three plates full of food placed before them each night, but many go without food at all.
When I was 9, my father was stationed in Panama and every time we would leave the military base we would drive by a huge slum called “Hollywood.” But it was very different from the glitz and glamor of California’s Hollywood. I would look out my car window and see children bathing in dark brown water, and houses put together with materials found in a dump. And if I rolled down my window the aroma that filled the air was far less appetizing than that of the fresh pasta sauce that filled my home.
It made me think, Why was I born into a family so blessed, while these children bathe in filthy water? Why do I have food and they’re hungry? What can I do?
Now I know what to do. And it’s something we can all do. We have the opportunity, the ability, and the commission to provide these memories and moments for children across the world.
By giving up one meal on one day, we can provide a child a taste of what we get each and every day. I’d give up spaghetti in a heartbeat to provide a hungry child with a meal. In fact, I’m going to do so on November 6. Will you join me?
Skip a meal. Change a child’s world. And yours.
You can also view the One Meal One Day video on YouTube.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Regina Rigney is an actress, dancer and writer, but mostly she is a friend to anyone who needs a friend.