ARC BOOK REVIEW: Meth Lunches: Food and Longing in An American City by Kim Foster

Publication Date: October 10, 2023
Format: Kindle
Genre:  Food/Poverty/Addiction/Foster Care

Publisher: St Martins Press
 313 Pages
Buy: Kindle | Audio


Food is a conduit for connection; we envision smiling families gathered around a table—eating, happy, content. But what happens when poverty, mental illness, homelessness, and addiction claim a seat at that table? In The Meth Lunches, Kim Foster peers behind the polished visions of perfectly curated dinners and charming families to reveal the complex reality when poverty and food intersect.

Whether it’s heirloom vegetables or a block of neon-yellow government cheese, food is both a basic necessity and a nuanced litmus test: what and how we eat reflects our communities, our cultures, and our place in the world. 
The Meth Lunches gives a glimpse into the lives of people living in Foster’s Las Vegas community—the grocery store cashier who feels safer surrounded by food after surviving a childhood of hunger; the inmate baking a birthday cake with coffee creamer and Sprite; the unhoused woman growing scallions in the slice of sunlight on her passenger seat. This is what food looks like in the lives of real people.


This is a book that makes you think.  There is so much packed into these 300 pages.  I am not an annotator but I found myself underlining passages and rereading paragraphs. Kim Foster touches on so many subjects, food insecurity, the unhoused, addiction, poverty, foster care, mental illness and how people can help. 

During the pandemic she had a food pantry in her front yard for those who were struggling with food insecurity.  She learned that the unhoused usually are savvy enough to find food while those with food insecurity counted on the charity of others.  That small things like allowing people to choose their own food is a boost instead of being given a box full of random things from a food pantry. Fresh fruit and vegetables are hard to find for the food poor. 

She touches on addiction and mental illness and how meeting people where they are is an easier way to interact without causing friction. By meeting people where they are you establish trust and humanize them which in the end will help them. 

Then there are the businesses that feed off the poor.  How our laws keep people poor so that we have people to do the things we don't want to do. How short term apartments charge more for a weekly rental than a monthly rental would cost but don't charge security deposits and often don't have credit checks. 

I feel that this book should be required reading for everyone - it helps to humanize everyone and remind us that we are all deep down the same - some just have more advantages than others. 

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