When we think about people who don’t have enough to eat, developing nations come to mind, or cities and towns distant from our own neighborhoods. But people are going hungry on Main Street every day, in every neighborhood in America.
According to national nonprofit Share Our Strength, more than 16 million children across our nation live in households that struggle to put food on the table. That’s one in five children. Congressman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) put it best: “We’re the United States of America, richest country on the planet, and there’s not a single community that’s hunger-free.”
On Saturday evening, the Food Network aired an eye-opening special about childhood hunger called Hunger Hits Home. The one-hour television program brought America’s hunger crisis right into people’s living rooms and showed that while we don’t necessarily see hungry people on the street every day, they are in our midst due to the economic downturn, health and financial setbacks, and other issues that anyone in America could face.
Hunger Hits Home profiled three families working hard just to stay afloat. In particular, the Walker family in Norfolk, Va., saw a direct correlation between a lack of food and academic success.
“I’ve always been an A student, but when I got to middle school it kind of fell off,” 16-year-old Icarus Walker said. After Icarus’ mother lost her job as a bus driver and his father was laid off and had to take a low-paying job, the young student and his three siblings were forced to survive on a diet that consisted entirely of ramen noodles.
“Having that fear, wondering what we’re going to eat tonight…I can see it in my report cards,” said Icarus.
Communities In Schools understands the connection between food and accomplishment. When a student doesn’t know what, or when, his or her next meal will be, that young person absolutely cannot focus on school, extracurricular activities or the future.
Across the country, Communities In Schools is working to make sure that students and their families at risk of going hungry have enough to eat. From food backpack programs, where we give students enough nutritious food to get them through weekends, to site coordinators hand-delivering meals to students’ homes during summer break, our staff and volunteers are dedicated to making sure children’s bodies are nourished so they can focus on nourishing their minds.
Hunger Hits Home made it clear that America’s hunger crisis is occurring in every neighborhood in the United States. And they also make it clear that when everyone contributes to making a difference, we can stop hunger in its tracks and give every child a healthy, happy future.
Watch the full special: