Battling Childhood Hunger
Not long ago, I was supervising some kiddos while they were waiting to be picked up. As we waited, I offered them a snack from my bucket full of granola bars and fruit snacks. They looked at the pile then at me. Their hesitation led me to offer again, this time saying they could each take a few snacks. They asked, “How many?” I looked at my watch. It was noon, so I figured they were hungry for lunch. I told them to take as many as they wanted. Each child took eight granola bars and six fruit snacks. I assumed they were loading up to take snacks home. Maybe their mother didn’t buy that type of snack or they wanted extras to keep in their backpacks.
But as I watched, the siblings sat down, began eating, and continued to wait for their ride. Unwrapping hastily, they ate all of the granola bars and fruit snacks they’d taken. Without a sound or any fooling around, they ate quickly. They filled up their water cups at least six times while they were eating. When they were finished, they quietly got up, cleaned up their spots, threw their wrappers in the trash, and sat back down. A few minutes later, one of the little girls came over and asked me for a few more snacks. I gave her four more of each kind. By now, I had figured out that they were truly hungry. My heart broke. I thought to myself, “Never in my life have I been that hungry.”
I assumed the additional snacks would be for the children to take home because surely they were full. I was incorrect. The kiddos ate them all - 10 granola bars and 10 fruit snacks each. They were slender children, and I wasn’t sure where all that food was going. My heart ached as I realized I didn’t know how to help them get food. I lived nowhere near them and wasn’t familiar with any food pantries in the area. By then, their older sister had arrived to pick them up, and they were all happy to see each other. Before they left, the older sister came over and asked if she could also have a snack. Of course a heaping handful of snacks were given to her too.
Childhood hunger is real! As schools let out for the summer, children lose access to the school lunches that many of them rely on. I encourage you to donate to your local food pantry year round. Many children are hungry, and parents rely on food pantries throughout the year (not just during the holidays when most people donate).
CLI is holding its third annual food drive in June. Join us for our giving campaign, Filling the Food Pantries, to help keep our children fed over the summer. June 21st we are collecting food to donate to a local food pantry. You can donate that day too!
What can you do to help?
What I have learned: Childhood hunger exists. It is real, and we can help.
Tania Farran is an educator, mom, business owner, and an author. Her blogs tell about balancing all of these things in life! Laugh or cry with her and maybe learn a thing or two.