By Dana Carney
Pacific Ridge student
When I hear the word hunger, I think of somewhere in Africa or Asia, not in my own community. Over 16 million children in the United States live in a household that suffers from food insecurity. In other words, over 16 million children don’t know where their next meal is coming from. If someone is hungry, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she is starving, but that person doesn’t know when or how they will get their next meal. In fact, most of the time if someone in a hungry family does have to miss a meal, it is usually an adult or parent. However, many families in America do struggle with feeding and supporting themselves, but hardly anyone ever hears about hunger in America.
Many people in the United States are very fortunate and don’t have to worry about needs as primitive as food, water, or shelter, but what many of us don’t realize is what some people have to undergo to survive. We might see homeless people on the street, but so many of us have never been exposed to hunger. We have not seen the look in a mother’s eyes when she can’t feed her children, we have not had to make $600 in food stamps last an entire month and feed a family of five. However, something can be done about hunger.
The issue is not that we don’t have enough food, it’s that we don’t realize how much food we waste and how simple it is to make a difference in the lives of hungry people. On average, more than 29 million tons of food is wasted each year in the United States, or enough to fill the Rose Bowl every three days. Obviously, there is ample food to feed everyone, but this raises the question of how we get the food to the ones who desperately need it. We can’t give them bread crust and spoiled food, but we can’t have someone coming around the neighborhood and collecting “extra food” either. Hunger is a very complicated issue because food is not something that is often involved in a community, whereas something such as money is. In other words, an individual can go from door to door in a neighborhood and ask for money to find a cure for a disease such as breast cancer, but it is almost awkward to collect food. Restaurants and grocers could calculate their least popular items, and donate food according to what is lowest in demand. Yet again, this brings into question if the restaurant and grocery store owners are willing to put in the time and energy to contribute. Instead, I believe that there is a better solution.
There are several nonprofit organizations who help feed desperate people. For example, nearly 14 million children are estimated to be served by Feeding America, a nonprofit organization founded in 1979. Nonprofit organizations are a simple and easy way to help people in need. I want you to donate money to organizations such as Feeding America, to volunteer at a local soup kitchen, or even just to raise awareness about child hunger in America. Every penny donated contributes immensely to the hunger issue: if some families can make their $600 in food stamp money stretch an entire month, every dollar can help.
In fact, if you donate $10 to the Virtual Food Drive at the San Diego Food Bank, you will feed roughly 50 children. As well, soup kitchens are usually very full and have many guests, and they are always looking for an extra hand. Telling your family, friends, neighbors, anyone, will raise awareness and support putting an end to hunger. Because, the more people know about the harsh difficulties many Americans are going through, the more people will contribute, and the closer we will be to putting an end to hunger.
Around one in every 16 children in America don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Those children are everywhere in America, they are in our community, and they need our help. They are closer than you think.