Fighting Hunger Is a Family Affair


You and your kids can make a big difference in the fight against hunger in America

By FamilyTime

 

As a parent, it’s tough to think of any child going to bed hungry, or being unsure where her next meal is coming from, but it’s a fact of life. One in five American kids isn’t sure if supper will be on the table tonight.

While we try to shield our own kids from such harsh realities, it’s not always a bad thing for our children to have some understanding of hunger in America. In fact, kids are amazingly empathetic and usually want to help. They don’t like the idea of other kids being hungry any more than their parents do!

Make It a Family Project

Talk to your kids about the problem of hunger in our country. You don’t want to frighten them or make them worry that "they will be next,” but they can absorb the fact that some people are not as fortunate as they are.

Your kids understand that moms and dads lose jobs, get sick, and have other problems that make it difficult for them to have enough money to feed their families. If you suggest to your offspring that there are ways that you, as a family, can help, they will leap at the opportunity.

Some Ideas for Helping

Volunteers and faith-based organizations are the lifeline of America’s emergency food distribution. For instance, nearly 75 percent of the food pantries and 65 percent of soup kitchens are run by agencies affiliated with a church, mosque or synagogue.

This means your place of worship is a good place to start. Community centers and civic organizations are another.

Look for existing programs where you and your kids can package meals or make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the soup kitchen down the street. Or, you might be able to help at that kitchen, unpacking groceries, washing dishes, or ladling food into bowls.

You and the kids could spend a few hours every week at the local food bank, sorting through donated canned and packaged good. Or you may be asked to sweep up after the food bank has made its daily or weekly donations to its clientele.

Let your kids know that anything that helps the food bank or soup kitchen get the job done is worthwhile.

Other Ways to Help

Many at-risk children eat both breakfast and lunch at school. As a parent, you could volunteer to be a monitor at one of these meals.

Make sure the school is aware of summer feeding programs. When schools close for July and August, large numbers of children miss meals. Many communities sponsor summertime breakfast and lunch programs — and these programs are always looking for help! You could turn this into a PTA project, perhaps.

You might be asked to transport food to the feeding site, pass it out to the kids who show up, or even plan a recreational activity to occupy the kids when they finish eating. The key to the success of these feeding programs is to keep the youngsters coming back.

The United Family

Once you and your kids make a commitment to fight hunger, stick with it. Sure, a single morning at the food bank will make a difference, but sticking to a weekly or monthly schedule has a larger impact. And letting your children know the value of regular volunteering is a lifelong gift.

On the other hand, don’t worry if your direct involvement waxes and wanes with your family’s hectic schedule. Keep the issue in the forefront of family conversations; make note of stories in the news that might raise some issues. This way, with renewed vigor and enthusiasm, you and your kids will plunge into the next round of volunteer opportunities.

For some more ideas, go to nokidhungry and tysonhungerrelief