I work part time doing child care for Family Court. The children that come to us are there for a variety of reasons (order of protection, custody, paternity, divorce…).
It’s hard enough that these children are dealing with so much with their families but to be thrown into a room with total strangers can be really traumatic.
It’s bad enough knowing that these children are dealing with so much. It’s even harder when they offer little “nuggets” of information about their home life (we don’t ask questions but often children just open up and start telling us things).
I try and start conversations with children just so they feel comfortable with me. I ask them about school, find out what their favorite television show is and simple things like that.
Not too long ago I was working overtime. It was late in the afternoon and we had a few children in the room with us. One young girl was playing with the kitchen set we have. She was making something to eat for one of the dolls we have.
Just to make conversation I asked the little girl a random question – what was she having for dinner that night? When I asked her she just shrugged her shoulders. I asked her if her mom mentioned what she was making for dinner that night. The little girl replied that she wasn’t having dinner that night. Curious to know why she said that I questioned her – “You are not having dinner tonight?” The little girl replied “No”. I replied “Won’t you be hungry?”, to which she replied “No. I’ll probably have a bowl of cereal”.
Cereal? Cereal is not dinner. Maybe breakfast and sometimes lunch, or even a snack, but it certainly doesn’t seem like enough for dinner. That made me wonder if her family has enough to eat or was the little girl one of the millions of children right here in America that come from food insecure homes.
If you are not familiar with the term “food insecure” it means not knowing where your next meal is coming from and not having enough to eat on a day to day basis.
If you read my blog on a regular basis you know that I fully support campaigns that work towards putting and end to hunger here in the United States. Feeding America is one organization that I have written about frequently. I have ever participated in a food drive as well as toured one of their facilities.
Feeding America serves about 12 million children each year. These are children in your community. These children can be living next door to you and you might not even know it.
Unilever is a partner with Feeding America. They have helped to contribute nearly 30 million meals** to families and children over the past five years which includes more than 13 million pounds of food and more than $3 million in support.
Unilever’s program is called Project Sunlight. It launched in November 2013.
Unilever Project Sunlight embodies the consumer product company’s global mission – the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan – that encourages people to take small steps that together make a big difference toward building a brighter future for children. The initiative is made up of a growing community of people who believe in a world where everyone has enough food to eat and no child goes to bed hungry.
Some people are under the misconception that they know what hunger looks like. Hunger doesn’t have a “look”. Your well dressed co-worker who lives in a nice car might be food instable. Your child’s happy little friend might be hiding a dark secret – that they go to bed hungry every night.
Hungry people look and act just like you and I do. The only exception is that they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
People find themselves in these situations from a variety of reasons – job loss, debt, death in the family, divorce… Sometimes things happen that are out of our control and we have to make due with what we have, even if it means having to sacrifice a hearty meal to pay the electric bill or fill a prescription
Unilever wanted to share stories about Americans who are struggling with hunger. With the help of Unilever Bright Future Award recipient, Patrick Creadon, Unilever has created a heart-wrenching and inspiring look at how Americans are grappling with child hunger in a four-minute documentary called “Going to Bed Hungry: The Changing Face of Child Hunger.”
Unilever Project Sunlight wants to encourage people around the country to get involved
“What struck me the most in meeting these families and creating this film is how quickly people – our neighbors – can go from being the helpers to being those in need of help,” said Creadon. “Going beyond donating – to sharing a meal or a moment of support – truly underscores that this is an issue that touches us all in every community in every pocket of this country. These are our children.”
Here is the film. I hope you will take a few minutes to watch it. It’s only 4 minutes long.
This is such a powerful documentary. You would think in our country hunger would not be an issue. We have three year olds walking around with their own smartphones and iPads… yet some children can’t even get a simple meal to it. It’s sad that our priorities can be so “off” at times.
Hopefully this documentary has inspired you to help. There is a way you can share a meal this holiday season. Simply visit ProjectSunlight.us. There you can download the informative Unilever Share A Meal Toolkit to learn more about the power of a shared meal.
There are other ways you can help. Here are a few suggestions.
- Help a Family in Your Neighborhood: Simply sharing a meal with a neighbor either in the form of a simple lunch or dinner party, or even packing an extra lunch for your child to take to school, could go a long way.
- Partner with Local Organizations: Local community organizations are great resources for sharing a meal in your area – simply tap into their networks to see how you can help.
- Coordinate with Your Local Food Bank: Whether you wish to volunteer or host your own local food drive, use Feeding America’s online Food Bank Locator tool to get in touch with a food bank in your area.
- Host a Virtual Food Drive: Feeding America’s Personal Fundraiser tool is a great place to start and to reach out to friends, family, and colleagues for contributions.
- Donate: Consider swapping a night out with a night in and share those extra savings with children and families in need in the form of a donation to Feeding America.
- You Buy One, We Give One: Look for the Unilever “You Buy One, We Give One” coupon offer in the Sunday paper on November 16. Redeem at participating stores from November 16 – 30 and Unilever will donate one meal* to Feeding America when you purchase any participating Unilever product.
- Lend Your Voice: Inspire others by revealing why you’re helping to end child hunger on social media using, “I #ShareAMeal because…”
I hope you are inspired to do something to help out.
For more information about Feeding America you can find them on the various social media sites.
You can also follow Unilever Project Sunlight on social media too.
PLEASE share the documentary on social media so that your friends and family know about this important campaign. The URL for the video is http://ulever.us/ShareAMeal and the official hashtag is #ShareaMeal.
Did you watch the documentary? Why or why not?
Do you know a food insecure family? Have you personally experienced food insecurity?
Feel free to share your thoughts.
*I have partnered with Unilever Sunlight Project to bring you this information. Although compensated the opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.