When I first started getting involved with public service, one of the most shocking discoveries for me as I got deep into the work was just how vulnerable so many families are to food insecurity. I had grown up thinking this was a problem elsewhere, not here.
Was I wrong.
The numbers on hunger in the United States are staggering—more than 13 million children live in “food insecure” homes. That phrase may sound mild, but it means that those families don’t regularly have enough food to eat.
Now that I am fortunate to work on the issue as part of my professional portfolio, I have a better understanding of the issue and a broader perspective on those working to eradicate hunger. And, for the first time in my career, I believe we are on the cusp of success. I think we can solve this very real problem.
By working together.
Young people like Cheyenne in Kentucky worked this spring to identify where the greatest needs were, and which community partners could host summer meals sites. Kelly in Maine tracked progress of her state’s school breakfast program, including surveys and interviews to identify alternative breakfast models. And, Ethan in Virginia helped implement a pilot after-school meals program.
These inspiring young people were some of the No Kid Hungry Youth Ambassadors selected by the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation to engage college-aged students in the fight against childhood hunger. Youth Ambassadors work with their local schools, state legislatures and No Kid Hungry community partners to research the best solutions to end childhood hunger.
Students like Cheyenne, Kelly and Ethan give me hope that we can finally do this. Through investment, commitment and partnerships – between caring individuals, government support, non-profit innovation and the support of the business community – we can make a real impact on the lives of children.
September is Hunger Action Month. I challenge you – as I am challenging myself – to seek out like-minded partners in this effort. Can we give more time, more resources or even more creativity? Yes, we can. Together we can do it and make childhood hunger a thing of the past.