It’s officially the holiday season. The time of the year we should all be giving thanks AND just giving. How are you giving this year? Consider joining the conversation with SheKnows Hatch and Unilever Project Sunlight to #ShareAMeal and help end hunger in America. Did you know that 1 in 5 children in America live in a food-insecure household, meaning they may not know if they’ll be fed a meal before bed every night? You may be surprised to find out that 93% of these struggling families live in secure, non-temporary homes so it may not be obvious who is hungry.
Children who are well-fed often take it for granted, not realizing how good they have it. As innocent as they are with the situation, food goes in their mouth with little thought or appreciation because it’s become such a routine and part of their every day. It is important to start the conversation with them as early as possible, because even at a young age they can start helping. Judah is now old enough to start understanding real hunger, even though he is not hungry. As his parents, we feel a responsibility to not only teach him that food is a privilege and make him aware there are hungry kids even within our own community, but that we can help! I remember my mom teaching me this just by her actions – she was the best room mom EVER at our school and was always looking out for those in need. It’s cemented in my memory of how she was a single working mom at that time, yet always provided for me and my sister while also looking out for any of our classmates. I hope to be this same example to my two sons.
Earlier this year, I took Judah with me to our local Helping Hands community garden, where we helped harvest the produce that is distributed to families through the food bank. It was a great experience for the both of us. The scorching hot Mississippi summer day was not the ideal gardening weather, yet Judah kept such a great attitude and learned a lot about where food comes from. He may not have fully understood that we were picking the vegetables for families in need, but it was a perfect starting point. In the last couple of weeks, we participated in donating yams through our church’s food drive (that was specifically for canned sweet potatoes). These cans contributed to Thanksgiving meals through out our community. Not only do we give canned food during the holidays, but at least once a year our neighborhood association has a pick up day for our local organization where we donate nonperishable food items. It’s so easy for us – we just leave everything at our doorstep on the specified date and they pick it up. How can we say “no” to that!? There are other ways to make child hunger real to myself and my kids, and even other adults around me. We believe in eating leftovers. I do not like to waste food. Did you know that 70 billion pounds of food is wasted annually?? When we have leftovers, we eat them within the next few days. Or, if I know that we won’t have a chance to eat them because we’ll be out of town or we have other plans, then I always check with our neighbors to see if they want the food. Judah is well-aware of my #ShareAMeal method, that it tickles me to often hear him offer food to anyone who stops in for a visit. Many times he’ll ask guests if they want something to eat that I didn’t intend on sharing, and it humbles me so.
I would love to hear your personal experiences and stories of how you helped (or plan to help) families in hunger. Have you volunteered at a food bank? Organized a food drive? Maybe you hosted a dinner for families in need or helped financially? To assist you in taking action to help end hunger in the US, visit Project Hunger and Unilever Project Sunlight website for helpful materials.