My small people know they are lucky. They know because I tell them and because my husband and I make a regular effort to help them to understand that a home they love and food in their bellies are staples many other children their age can’t count on every day.
I know it is hard for them to understand – at eight and ten years old – that there are children who can’t waltz in to the pantry or open the fridge, knowing there is a snack ready to be grabbed, that there are kids who don’t have lunch made for them daily for school and that dinner often isn’t a full meal. But it is happening right here in the United States. It happens every day and it is quite possible that it has happened to kids my children know or have met.
One in five kids right here at home do not know where their next meal is coming from. They have empty cupboards, bare refrigerators and often come to school with little or nothing. My family has chosen to support Unilever’s Project Sunlight and their committment to working to knock out this problem – to providing food for the nearly 16 million kids who experience hunger on a regular basis.
There are so many ways to help, from volunteering at local food banks to organizing neighborhood food drives to adopting a family in need as often as you can. But I desperately want this to be a cause that resonates with my children – one where they feel they are making a difference. In order to do that, I knew I would need to do three things: 1) be the example, 2) start small and build, involving them in the process and 3) make our committment a regular one.
So, this is what we decided:
We are hosting our own month-long food drive and including a monetary donation. Here’s how it works:
We’ve checked with our local food bank to understand their most pressing needs: meals in a can – soups and stews, boxed or bagged rice and pasta, canned fruits and vegetables, low sugar cereals, canned tuna and other meats, peanut butter, granola bars, boxed or bottled juice, baby food and formula and diapers.
Every time we head to the grocery store, the kids choose a few items from the list to put in our cart. This helps them to both understand the needs of others and to be a part of our giving.
When we head home, we add it to our every growing pile….knowing we will all head to the Food Bank together at the end of the month to donate our collection.
Also, we do understand the importance of monetary donations. In fact, the St. Louis Food Bank has a ‘pop-up’ on their website to drive home the need.
So, in addition to the food we collect, as a family, we will also be making a minimum of a $100 donation to ensure that we are helping with more than 400 meals.
And, in January, we will start all over again.
I want my children to understand that every small giving step they take can combine for a big impact. I fear them opting out of helping because they ‘can’t do enough’. Every dollar, every can of food, helps someone who isn’t getting the food they need. This is a good thing.
Have you thought about ways you can #ShareAMeal? Share your plan here. If you have a couple of dollars to spare, you can always make a donation directly to Feeding America – every dollar helps to provide 10 meals. That is extraordinary. And if you are looking for creative ways to get involved, to #ShareAMeal – head here….Project Sunlight has you covered.Disclosure: I’m proud to have been working with Unilever’s Project Sunlight to help spread the work about the need to fight child hunger and how easy it is to help. As always, all thoughts and opinions shared here are mine and mine alone.