Let’s help put an end to summer hunger with Feeding America and Scholastic.
When I was growing up, summer meant everything to me. Summer did not just mean a summer vacation from school, it also meant that my mom and I were going on a vacation to a foreign place, whether it was another island in the Caribbean or somewhere farther away, it was always fun and a learning experience. It’s what developed my love for travel. Summer meant being out of school and not having a care in the world, playing with friends and family until the sun went down or until our parents called us in for either lunch or dinner. Growing up, one thing I never had to worry about was where my next meal was going to come from. As a child that is something that you should NEVER have to worry about. Unfortunately, did you know that one in six children right here in the USA struggle with hunger and the summer can be especially difficult? For most of these children, they depend on school lunches to provide them with a meal, so when school is out for the summer, their meal, and sometimes it’s their only meal, disappears.
I’m a big advocate against childhood hunger and me and my children take part in my church’s food pantry and distribute meals to other families in need. I truly do believe that no child should ever go hungry, especially here in the United States of America, the land of the free and opportunities. Can you imagine if YOUR OWN CHILDREN had nothing to eat during the summer? If the school-provided meals was their only source of nourishment?
Hunger harms a person’s physical, emotional, and social well-being. But it is even more devastating for children, as it can hinder their full potential. You can’t perform your duties if you’re hungry, you can’t study and get good grades if you’re hungry, and you surely won’t want to do anything at all if you’re hungry. Imagine yourself going without meals for a day, and I’m not talking about being on a diet, I’m talking about not eating AT ALL! It’s not a good feeling.
Zoey is 11 years old. She lives in Bangor, ME with her brother and mother.
Zoey gets free breakfast and lunch at her school. And during the summer, Zoey goes to her local food bank’s summer lunch program to help supplement the meals she misses when school is out.
Thanks to her local summer lunch program, Zoey has the chance to be healthy, happy and focus on being a kid.
There are ways to approach the topic of childhood hunger in your very own community with your children, no matter their age. Here are 3 ways to approach the topic and ones that I have used with my very own.
1. Encourage Empathy – Children, even the youngest of them, can learn to be empathetic towards others. Ask questions such as “how would it feel if you didn’t have enough to eat or were hungry?” It’s ok to talk about their emotions. Madison at age 5 understands what it means since she’s at that age where she can say when she’s hungry. Now we can talk about other children who are also hungry but have nothing to eat.
2. Share Your Own Stories – Was there a time that you went without food or do you know of someone who did? Share your stories so they can understand. While I never went hungry as a child, I have gone hungry as an adult when I was on my own and lost my job. Luckily there were no children involved but it’s a story I can share.
3. Make a Difference – Participate in a food drive or a food pantry and help distribute food to those in need. If your children see you making a difference, they’ll also want to make a difference.
They have developed the Hungry to Help program to engage families and communities on the topic of hunger during the summer months. The Family Action Plan is designed to be a comprehensive resource for parents and children to practice empathy and learn more about how you can support those who struggle with hunger.
The Family Action Plan includes:
Links and online resources for more in-depth information
Family conversation starters on the topic of hunger
Hands-on community action ideas and family activities
Children’s activity sheet to draw their perfect world
A summer checklist to track their progress
Visit their website and download the Family Action Plan and get started on your way to help end child hunger this summer! www.scholastic.com/hungrytohelp
For more information on hunger in the United States, visit www.feedingamerica.org.