Suffering in Silence
For many years, the issue of hunger was something that Americans simply could not comprehend. We thought hunger only existed in a foreign country, some pin on a map that we only read about in 8th grade Social Studies. As we know all too well, the socio-economic status of this great nation has changed so rapidly over the course of the past few years, that it has caused a great shift in our definition of hunger. Who is hungry? We all know everyone needs to eat, but why is it that some people cannot provide 3 square meals for their families on a daily basis?
From the recently unemployed teacher to the truck driver who lives paycheck to paycheck, the faces of hunger are all around us. To see hunger, simply open your eyes , look around you and I guarantee you will know someone who has struggled to put food on the table for their families at one time or another. The problem is that people are too proud, and often embarrassed, to talk about it.
As someone who proudly worked for a hunger-relief organization for nearly 5 years, I can promise you that although so many people are still struggling with food insecurity, great strides are being made to provide food to those in need, thanks to organizations like Share Our Strength. During those 5 years, I also had the privilege of serving on committees for The Miami Great American Bake Sale & the Miami Taste of the Nation, which raises much needed funds and awareness to help fill the empty plates that so many people are faced with on a day to day basis.
Share Our Strength advocates all over the United States to provide programs and services in schools to ensure that no child goes hungry. With their innovative marketing campaigns and outreach to local elected officials, they are one step closer to guaranteeing the fulfillment of their tagline, “No Kid Hungry.” Yes, hunger is a problem, but it is a solvable problem. Thanks to sustainable programs like School Breakfast Program and fundraisers like The Great American Bake Sale and Taste of the Nation, awareness, food & funds will continue to be raised. Programs such as Cooking Matters & Shopping Matters teach families how to shop smart on a budget while providing nutritious meals to families of all sizes. These valuable programs also teach life skills that families can pass onto their children.
So many people suffer in silence, and this is simply unacceptable. We live in the wealthiest country in the world, and yet some people cannot put food on the table for their families. I urge you to visit your local soup kitchen, homeless shelter, food pantry to see how you can get involved because when you see the hundreds of people working tirelessly behind the scenes in your community to fight hunger, you will want nothing more than to get involved. And you will become a hunger advocate just as I did. Even if you cannot make a financial contribution, the donation of time is priceless. In addition, your voice is just as powerful as any others. Contact your local elected official to see what they are doing to advocate on hunger-related legislation like SNAP, TEFAF and unemployment benefits. Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. They are counting on you…. on us!
So the next time you think about what you’re going to have for dinner, just take a moment and think what someone else might not have for dinner. Because the issue of hunger in your community is closer than you think….but so is the solution. And that solution is Share Our Strength.
For more information, please visit www.nokidhungry.org.
Photo Credit: Feeding America