Ending childhood hunger is something I’m passionate about. More than 16 million kids in the U.S. live in households that struggle to put food on the table. That translates to 1 in 5 children in America. The problem is exacerbated during the summer when access to food is even more limited. When school is out for the summer, these kids, who relied on regular breakfasts and lunches at school, often spend their vacation worrying about having enough to eat.
Childhood hunger is a major problem in our country – but it’s solvable. As a person who has dealt with hunger, I know how difficult it can be. My experience has motivated me to prevent hunger whenever I can. I also teach my children to contribute to these efforts. As a family we’ve volunteered at the local food bank, served meals at homeless shelters, and delivered food to seniors with Meals on Wheels. We also make regular donations to food pantries. However, my last visit to the pantry had a huge impact on my daughter and me.
I’ve partnered with Kellogg’s on several projects and as a result of our relationship, I acquired hundreds of boxes of cereal. Although my family loves to eat cereal and milk for breakfast, we could never eat all of the cereal I had stored in my house.
One afternoon, I loaded all of the boxes into my vehicle and invited my 13-year old daughter to join me.
“Where are we going?” she asked.
“Why are you taking so much?” she asked
“Because many families need food during the summer,” I said. “There are probably some kids at your school who will benefit from this cereal.”
“REALLY?” She exclaimed. My daughter was shocked because we live in a middle-class suburban neighborhood. She couldn’t believe that it was possible that some of her peers were without food during the summer.
“That’s not fair,” she continued.
“You’re right,” I said. “It’s not fair. That’s why it’s so important for us to do something about it.”
When we arrived at the food bank, I noticed the message on the marquee which read – “BREAKFAST CEREAL NEEDED.” It seemed as if fate was guiding us to the place where we could have the biggest impact.
I parked the truck and rang the bell. A small middle-aged woman open the door and greeted me with a smile.
“May I help you?” She asked.
“Yes,” I said. “I’d like to donate some cereal.”
“Okay,” she said. “Pull around back.”
I drove the truck to the back entrance and parked in front of the door. My daughter climbed into the bed of the truck and started handing me boxes.
When the woman opened the back door and saw my truckload of cereal, her eyes grew wide and her smile broadened.
“Wow!” she said. “When you said you had some cereal, I didn’t realize how much.” She quickly went back inside to get a cart to unload the boxes.
As we transferred the boxes from my vehicle to the building, the woman explained how difficult it was to fulfill all the needs during the summer.
“Donations seem to go down during the summer,” she said. “Which is problematic because the need increases.”
She told me stories of clients who only show up during the summer because they had no other way to feed their kids during summer break.
“It breaks my heart to see so many people struggling,” she said.
“Mine too,” I replied.
“You donation is going to help so many kids in this community,” she said with a smile. “Thank you so much.”
As I carted the last box into the building, the woman asked me to sign the log to document my donation. When I looked at the log, I chuckled.
“What are you laughing at, Daddy?” My daughter asked.
I beaconed her over and pointed to the previous entry – 25 Gallons of Milk. My daughter looked at me and smiled.
“I guess we came at exactly the right time,” she said.
“It’s always the right time to help feed people in need,” I said.
Join the conversation: How do you help to eliminate hunger in your community?
Visit No Kid Hungry to learn more about the problem and ways you can help.
photo by Michael Glasgow