Take a moment and think of 5 children you know. Now, think about the possibility that one of those children lives with food insecurity, doesn't always have a meal for dinner, rarely eats breakfast, or (as I saw so often when I ran an after-school program) stashes extra snacks to take home for siblings who are not in school yet and, thus, can't benefit from a school lunch/snack program.
Today, on St. Patrick's Day, #TeamNKH is heading to Arkansas to see "Breakfast After the Bell" in action and talk #SchoolBreakfast with Billy Shore, Jeff Bridges and Governor Mike Beebe. No Kid Hungry has focused quite a bit on school breakfasts recently as another way to close the gap and bring an end to hunger for children in the U.S. because they understand the importance of breakfast, as their site says:
"When a child misses breakfast, his or her chances to succeed in the classroom and later in life are drastically reduced. There is a solution. Pioneering schools have found that moving breakfast out of the cafeteria and making it a part of the school day (breakfast after the bell) ensures more kids can start their day with a healthy meal."
Now that I have a preschooler, I understand the value of breakfast more than I ever did before. I make sure I feed my sons breakfast every morning -- even though he is also given a breakfast at preschool. When I stop to think about that I realize how incredibly lucky we are as a family. Even though our budget can get pretty tight, I am still able to make sure my son eats breakfast everyday. I am also lucky enough to know that if we miss it one morning because we're running late or ran out of cereal/yogurt/fruit/eggs (etc.), his school provides breakfast for him -- for everyone, in fact, which is a valuable way to reduce and/or avoid the stigma that can come with "school breakfast" or "school lunch."
I think of all of this and I am full...
...of gratitude (for what my family has)
...of sorrow (for kids who struggle with hunger)
...of passion (to engage and make a difference)
...of optimism (because I know change is possible).
For me, action always begins with compassion, and I find myself circling back to my guiding word for 2014 -- compassion. I join the fight to end hunger from a place of compassion, of understanding, of love, and I think this matters. I invite others to join -- and to engage your children. All of our children have experienced hunger, but many of us are lucky enough to be able to do something about that -- to feed our children when they are hungry, to splurge and buy a snack or meal when we are out and have forgotten to bring food with us or an appointment or errand takes longer than expected.
If we talk to them about it, we'll probably all be quite surprised to see how well our children understand the concept of hunger and how eager they are to help others who don't have enough food. Pennies of Time set a bold example when she hosted a hunger dinner with her family as a way to teach her kids about hunger and allow for important discussions about the issue.
This Thursday, March 20th, many around the world are celebrating the 45th Anniversary of Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar -- why not join the celebration, but in a way that will help others?
Consider doing a Very Hungry Caterpillar Food Drive with your children.
My boys LOVED it when we did it, so we're doing it again this Thursday. Or, if you have children who love to bake, why not host a bake sale for No Kid Hungry or for your local food pantry?
If you're celebrating Lent, why not ask everyone in the family to give up one treat (coffee, snack, etc.) each day or even just once a week during Lent and put that money toward an agency working to end hunger? Or, just carry around a special change jar for Lent and see how much you can collect to serve others?
Need more ideas/ways to help? There's lots of them on Stacy of Kid Stuff World's Moms Fighting Hunger Pinboard, but here's a few others too: organize a food drive at your local school, church or other community group, or keep it simple and just call the local food pantry and set up a time to volunteer or tour the space as a family. Want to keep it even more simple? Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, G+, Pinterest or just share a status update/tweet encouraging others to join the fight against hunger. You can also join Share Our Strength and No Kid Hungry's school breakfast effort by making a quick phone call that will help complete their School Breakfast Map.
Even a small act can make a big difference...go ahead, be someone's lucky charm. Join #TeamNKH by taking the pledge. Get engaged in a way that has meaning for you -- whatever that way is. #BeTheChange
(Oh - and tell me about it. I'd love to hear how you're getting involved to make a difference, so leave a comment. You never know, your action and words might inspire someone else.)
Sharing at: Afterschool Linky, Mom's Library and The Kid's Co-Op.
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