World Food Day 2012

Have you ever had a day so busy that you didn’t have a chance to take a bite all day?  Do you remember how hungry you were? Now imagine if that was something you experienced every day. There are a lot of television ads for organizations asking for aid in feeding the poor people in foreign countries, so I bet when someone asks you about “food insecure” people, your neighbors in your own state doesn’t come to mind.

Next Tuesday, October 16, 2012, is World Food Day, a global initiative to end world hunger. So, in honor of next Tuesday, I’d like to take a moment today to talk about hunger in our own backyard.

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According to Project Bread, a non-profit organization in Massachusetts that raises money to fund programs that end hunger, there are thousands of people in our state alone that “experience hunger because they cannot afford adequate food.”  Adequate isn’t just describing the quantity of food, but also the nutritional value. Often, when budgets are tight, families are forced to buy a lesser quality of food and that is high fat and high sugar with little nutrients/protein content. Basically, they eat to feed their hunger pains, but not their body’s nutritional needs. We all know what such an eating habit does for long term health. For this reason, free or reduced price nutritious school lunches are so vital. For many kids, this is the only good meal they will have in the day.

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This issue is so prevalent that Sesame Street introduced a new character in 2011, Lily, a 7-year-old food insecure girl in order to raise awareness.

I think that as unpleasant as the issue of hunger can be, it is important as parents for us to teach our kids about these facts of life and show them what they can do to help and to not be wasteful. My 5-year-old nephew’s birthday lands near Project Bread’s annual Walk for Hunger and we often celebrate his birthday early to accommodate this fundraiser. He’s even spent a birthday one year walking at this event. So, they’re never too young to learn a sense of community responsibility.

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Fundraising isn’t the only way to make a difference. You can also get your kids involved in food drives! Have them help you pick out items from your pantry or the grocery store and take them to a food pantry to help stock the shelves (there might be an age requirement for this). One suggestion for helpful donations is to provide healthier whole grain products such as rice, pasta, and grains in place of traditional processed “white” products. Non-food items, such as toilet paper, shampoos, soap, laundry detergent or feminine products, are also welcomed at the pantries. These items are usually not
covered in SNAP (or EBT program) and grants, so by providing them, more money in the budget can be used to buy more healthful foods.

Another option to help make a difference is plan to eat a meal at a community kitchen such as All Are Welcome. What are community kitchens? They are places where everyone is welcomed to come in for a meal and if they can afford it, they can give a donation. Otherwise, the hot nutritious meal is provided for free to those who need it.  Just keep in mind that paying above the suggested donation helps deflect the cost for those who cannot afford it.

For more ways to get  involved, contact Project Bread, if you live in Massachusetts, or Feed America, if you don’t!

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 – Mychelle, My Savvy Way contributor, mom of Kyle & Alyson

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