I’ve been hungry before, but my hunger is a mild thing that tells me I should ingest some food sometime in the near future. My hunger is not true hunger, like millions of children in America face on a daily basis where they have no idea when – or if – their next meal is coming. Summer is the worst for them, as many of those children are part of the free or reduced breakfast and lunch program in schools. When school is out, however, schools aren’t around to provide those meals for children, and they miss many meals – making it that much harder to succeed in school in the fall when they return, which is only one of the issues they face.
Child hunger is scary. Did you know that 21 million children in the States receive free or reduced lunch? Only 3 million of those get free meals in the summer, however. In Illinois alone, 745,000 children – 23 percent of all children in Illinois – are food insecure, meaning they don’t know where their next meal will come from. Last year, the Greater Food Depository gave 69 million pounds of food from nonperishable items to produce, dairy and meat, to Illinois residents. That’s the equivalent of 140,000 meals every single day. (Data from Share Our Strength.) It’s hard to fathom that much hunger and need when I open my fridge and see this:
And yet it’s there. It’s there in the schools in my relatively affluent school district. And it’s so easy to make a difference. Donating $1 can get a child connected with up to 10 nutritious meals, which blows me away. I remember from some previous work on hunger that many organizations can purchase 6 pounds of food with $1. I know I can’t do that, but it’s amazing what the power of size and experience can do.
As one person, I can’t make that much difference, but I can make a difference. And this past week, I did. I hosted a movie night for friends of Little Miss and Mister Man. And they all brought donations of food as the “price of admission” for the evening of fun with us. As always, I was taken aback by the generosity of my friends. They brought a ton of food from pasta and pasta sauce to stock for soup to bowls of noodles meals and more.
The kids all had fun, and we talked some about why we were collecting food, and they all seemed to get it – at least a little. I talked about what the wee ones and I were donating, and I shared a little bit about the shopping trip I made to purchase Post cereals to donate to the #PostCFK Bowls of Hope campaign.
I talked about the Buy 2, Give 1 campaign where it’s so easy to buy two items for us – and then just buy one extra item to give to a food pantry where it will be given to a family in need. And cereal is something that can be so nutritious and provide so many meals, yet it is really inexpensive. Mister Man immediately wanted to run up to his piggy bank so he could buy some more cereal – and I love that energy, that the Champions for Kids are kids.
After the Post Bowls of Hope party, the wee ones checked out all the donations, and they were happy to report that the donated items all looked like food they thought kids would like to eat. They couldn’t wait for us to take the donations to the Northern Illinois Food Pantry. We usually donate food straight through our church, so it was the first time we’d been to the actual location of the food pantry, and it was awe inspiring. We also purchase pasta or some other loud, shakeable food for the Mister Man’s birthdays to bring to school for the children to walk to the food pantry housed at the school instead of bringing more little goodie bags and other useless items for a birthday treat. It’s gone over so well every year, and all the kids love it.
When we arrived, I asked a little about what items were most needed – hoping that what we had provided would at least partially fit the bill. Fortunately, we did pretty well. Our food bank is most desperate for items such as cereal (yay), pasta (yay), soups and stews/broth/chowder/chili (yay), peanut butter, flour, boxed meals (yay), and then the items I hadn’t even thought about – shampoos and soap, toilet paper and paper towels, napkins, diapers, and more. Our friends had so much fun at this movie night that I’m sure we’ll do it again this summer to help keep the food pantry stocked – in our little way – and this time provide a list of some of the most needed items. It’s these little pieces of education that really make the biggest difference, and I’m so proud to be a part of it.
And this little thing we did? The nine children we had hanging out in our house watching movies... they had a lot of fun with the project. They moms told me how they helped choose some of the items, and it reminds me ... making a difference can be fun. And for kids, let's make it fun so they want to keep up with it.
I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™. As always, all opinions expressed are my own. #CBias #SocialFabric