Talking about Childhood Hunger (sponsored)

This post is part of the Hunger-Free Summer program sponsored by ConAgra Foods and in conjunction with theMotherhood.

 Hunger Free Summer

I was blessed growing up.  Although I was one of five children,  I never knew hunger.  My dad had a very good job, my mom was an excellent cook who stayed at home for much of my childhood, we had a huge vegetable garden and even though my mom didn’t believe in “junk food” there was always plenty to eat.

I just assumed it was that way for everyone.

Sure, I vaguely knew that some kids got a reduced lunch.  As I got older I saw that some families lived in smaller houses, or didn’t seem to have many new clothes. . . but it didn’t really sink in.  I just assumed that most folks lived more or less like we did.  The idea that kids I knew, kids I went to school with might not have enough to eat at home just never crossed my mind.

I don’t know when that changed, when I was able to look back at my childhood through the lens of maturity and realize that poverty and hunger wasn’t just something that happened in the bad neighborhoods of cities far away, but something that could be quietly happening in my own back yard.  I wish I could say it was a blinding revelation–after all that would make a better story.  It wasn’t.  It was just the kind of understanding that slowly builds until you recognize a truth without even noticing the journey to get there.

In America 21.5 million kids rely on free or reduced-price meals during the school year.  In the summer only 2.3 Million children participate in Summer food Service Programs–meaning 19.2 million kids are food insecure in the summer. 

 I think it’s important to know that.  Important not to be complacent in our own security–to look around us and see the need of others.  Personally I’m a Christian and I see it as part of my moral duty not only to be grateful and thankful for what I have, but also to give out of that blessing to others in need.  As a mother I feel the need of children is especially poignant.  When my family, my children are secure–how can I help but feel moved by those who are not?

After taking care of my children’s safety, I see my most important job as a parent is to raise my kids to be thoughtful, intelligent, compassionate people.  To be compassionate I think they must recognize and be grateful for the blessings in their lives.  One of the ways we do this is to have the kids list all the things they are grateful for each day at the end of their prayers.  No item is too small.  I believe that by repeatedly reminding  them of  their blessings they will internalize and believe it–and I have noticed that my children seem very aware of and grateful for those things.

The other side of that coin is to have the children realize that others may not be as lucky or blessed.  With that realization comes a responsibility to do what we can to help those less fortunate.  This of course must be done in an age appropriate way.  When they were small we talked in a very general way about helping and giving to those “in need”.  As they have gotten older we have been able to have more detailed discussions–about why Mom volunteers at the food pantry, why we give money at church, why we give food and donate toys and clothes at the holidays, and yes, even why some of the kids at school might get free lunches.  They’ve heard our church talking about the backpack program it helped start locally to send food home with children over the weekends.  They know the free mornings summer camp the town runs in July (that both kids have attended) now has a free breakfast.

Kids watch and emulate their parents–the old “do as I say, not as I do” has never been an effective method–we have been able to use real life examples of both ourselves and others “doing” all around us to talk to our kids about the reality of childhood hunger.  And  because of this campaign I’ve had a few even more pointed conversations about hunger in our local community.  Talked about the kids who don’t pay for lunch, and what they might be eating during the summer.  Watching the  “Child Hunger Ends Here”  video was a great conversation starter there.

So now go and do your part.  Remember, ConAgra and Chris O’Donnell have partnered in a video encouraging others to join in the fight against child hunger.  For every view, a meal is donated to Feeding America.  So go, share the link with everyone you know via email, facebook, twitter. . . and for every view, there is another meal.  So share, watch and share again!  Together we can help.

Disclosure: The Motherhood and ConAgra compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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  1. says

    I’ve got a question for you…I’ve seen a few of these sponsored posts and other advertisements about things like this. And I’m also a Christian and my heart breaks to think about kids not getting enough to eat, especially since feeding people is one of my big love languages. But I have been having a hard time with some of this and I’d love to hear other thoughts.

    Yes, the economy has been terrible for a while now. Yes, there are lots of people unemployed and underemployed. Yes, there are lots of families who need help keeping home and food and such together during rough patches. But, we are spending a huge, huge amount on Food Share, EBT, and all kinds of other food stamp type of programs. As a country we give families money to buy food to feed themselves and their kids when they are struggling. Even with that money we still give free and reduced lunches without taking anything else away from their other benefits. Now we often feed those kids breakfast and in some cases dinner during the school year as well. And sometimes send home backpacks for the weekends and serve lunch during the summer. All these are being done without a charge to those families, but with great cost to our country. So where is the money that the family is getting in government benefits being spent? If we as a country are feeding those kids, why shouldn’t there be a reduction in the money handed out to the family?

    I ask because I know there is HUGE fraud, resale and waste in those using government benefits and if we are picking up that slack in all these different ways then what can we do to at least not be paying twice to feed these families? I hope I’m not coming off as totally insensitive, but every time I read one of these (on many different blogs) or see an ad I just can’t help but question where all this money is going. I work so hard to feed my family (on WAY less than the government check would be if we applied for those type of benefits) and it drives me crazy to know there is so much fraud, waste, lack of accountability and such and yet we are still told that MILLIONS of children are not getting anything to eat. It shouldn’t be that way. The kids need to eat, but if the parents won’t do it then we shouldn’t be giving them money as well, should we?

    Am I crazy? Heartless? I don’t think I am and no one I know has ever told me that I am, but what are your thoughts about this? Any ideas how we can actually deal with this problem and stop throwing so much money at it all over the place? I’d like to see us have meals in every kid’s belly and not be paying two or more times for each of those meals. Sorry for the novel!

  2. says


    You’ve got a lot of interesting thoughts there.

    One of the reasons that I thought this particular campaign (Hunger Free Summer) was a good fit for me is because the money is coming from a corporation (Con Agra) and being given to the charity. So this is not taxpayer money–the only way this money can be seen to be coming out of the public’s pocket is because a segment of the public chooses to buy products from Con Agra.

    There truly are systemic problems out there, questions of personal responsibility, and even whether it is truly possible to end hunger. After all Jesus himself said “there will be poor always”–and as a Christian I believe he was the most compassionate man that ever lived. So no, you aren’t crazy or heartless for questioning.

    I can’t speak for every charity out there (and wouldn’t want to–it isn’t my place) but I happen to know a bit about the backpack program in our town because several of my good friends are on the committee running it. They do get a grant from the government (although it truly isn’t very much) and they, as unpaid volunteers, go out and purchase the food and fill the backpacks each week. I’ve seen them sitting there discussing where they can shop to save pennies on each item. They are extremely careful about how they spend the money and they are NOT paying twice as much for the food, at least in the program in my town. (again–not involved personally and definitely not a spokesperson, just speaking as an observant citizen)

    On the other hand, you know that I am personally careful with my family’s resources. I make choices in order to reach the goals that we as a family feel are important, and sometimes that means we choose to do without certain luxuries or non-necessities in order to have money for other things. I am frustrated when I see the system fail, when I see lack of accountability for choices and actions. Yet in all of this it should never be the children who are forced to suffer for situations over which they have no control.

    So how do we address it and actually fix the problem? Well it’s impossible for you or I to do that on our own. We can each only do what we can do. Watching a video and having a company donate a free meal is easy-peasy and no skin off anyone’s nose, so do that. You can volunteer with local charities that address the problem, give your own money, donate food yourself. You can research the issues and the politicians and vote for those that you think will address the problems in the way you feel most beneficial. You can vet the charities you personally contribute to in order to ensure that the bulk of the money you donate is actually going to charitable works and not salaries.

    As I noted in my post, I do several of those things myself. I also personally see Frugal Upstate as an outreach to help teach folks different ways to do things that might help them save money and have a better life.

  3. says

    Thanks for replying to my ramble/soapbox! I agree, this is private money and that is a GREAT thing. So many companies keep jumping on this bandwagon and using it to promote their image and it just keeps bugging me that SO many kids are not getting food when many of their parents are getting money from the government to feed them. I think people who put their time and energy forward to do good in this world are wonderful! It is just frustrating that this is an issue we pour so much money into as a country, but it still takes all these other people to actually get results. Maybe we should just totally scrap the government program and let the private charities and corporations handle it…somehow I think we might get better results :) For sure there is more accountability on a person to person basis!

    And your quote about the poor is one my Dad sites all the time! Not that he doesn’t do a lot to help his fellow man, because he does. But he often quotes it when he is trying to help people see that there will always be a segment of population that will be poor because you can give them all the money, resources and such that you want, but the choices they make will keep them in the same cycle of poverty.

    And yes, the children shouldn’t be paying the price, I agree. I can’t imagine ever being in a situation where I had to count on someone else to feed my children. And thank God I was raised in a family that taught me how to raise our own food and how to live frugally! Again, thanks for your response.

  4. Amyrlin says

    Great post! My husband was unemployed for two years after his company closed headquarters, he was laid off and we decided to relocate back home in another state. For two and a half years we struggled, using up savings, losing our vehicle, and other financial obstacles we faced. Our family relied on the free lunch/reduced lunch program. I was able to purchase pantry boxes from the food bank for $15 (I would get two every week), we were ineligible for food stamps as I make too much on the cusp. My husband found work for commission, which lead to full time salaried employment six months later. I researched and volunteered at the food bank whenever I could and learn how to make the most of what I had. The impact of this on my children has taught them to have compassion for others as they may go without. My children were fortunate enough not to go hungry, but they were at risk. It happened in a blink of an eye, without the ability to persevere, stay strong, and have faith I think it would have ended my marriage from all the financial strains. I think in our communities we need to invest in these types of resources through volunteerism, financial (when we can), and through compassion. Having programs that teach a hand up instead of a handout is the change the food stamp administration needs to head. With better monitoring of the fraud within that program. It sickens me the folks who abuse and take advantage of these programs. No child should ever go hungry in our rich, vast Nation.


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