How to Teach Your Kids About Hunger
Most kids can probably tell you what the word “hunger” means. After all, I must hear E say “ I’m hungry” about 20 times a day.
But helping her understand why some children, day after day, do not have enough to eat, that is a whole other story. What can parents and educators do to nurture kids’ empathy and fuel their desire for fairness? Here are a few simple tips that I have used with my own kiddo.
1 in 6 people in my community are hungry. I live in the 15th largest city in the nation and hunger is rampant. The City of Fort Worth is currently in our annual food drive for the Tarrant Area Food Bank and this year I decided to use it as an opportunity to teach my E about those less fortunate.
Collect food. I know it seems simple, but sometimes simple is the best route for little ones. I had E decorate a box to collect canned food and other non-perishable items. I explained to her that her box needs to get filled so that other kids can have just as much to eat as her everyday.
Meet Can-o-saurus Rex, our can eating dinosaur.
Attend a lunch bunch. As I kid I was part of a lunch bunch. The local food bank delivered lunches everyday in the summer to our apartment complex and all the kids sat and ate. I also remember kids bringing toys and coloring books and it turned into a safe place for kids to hang out and get a good meal. So, this summer I am taking E to a lunch bunch.
Practice Gratefulness. This is as easy as saying out loud before every meal the foods you love and how grateful you are for them. This is a habit we introduced with E and it has been amazing in helping her learn. After discussing how we can show our thankfulness for our food (including showing gratitude to those who grow/sell/make our food and not wasting food) we also talked about how every person in the world deserves to have enough food to live. I ask her simple questions like, “How would you feel if you were hungry all day and did not have any food to eat?” and “What should we do if we know someone does not have enough food?” Then I ask her how we can help those who do not have enough food.
Talk about cost. This one is so important. I truly believe that even at 4, E is old enough to start learning about finances. So, on our last grocery store visit, I gave her $5 and told her that was all she could spend for her choice of food. Ya’ll, she was so darn surprised how quickly that $5 went. I mean the first thing she asked was if we could stop and get a bagel from the Starbuck’s inside the grocery store. Once I explained that she would use ALL her money there, she started to rethink.
And once I showed her that she could buy a whole bag of bagels and more, she definitely reconsidered. We talked about eating on a budget and how many children do not even have $5 to eat lunch every day, and that some families have less money to feed the whole family three meals a day.
I know these may seem small and insignificant, but I truly believe that teaching our children empathy and kindness at a young age is a must.
This month I am pledging to do my part to fight hunger in my local community and I am challenging you to help too. For every $1 donated, the Tarrant Area Food Bank provides 5 meals. A $25 donation provides a full week of nutritious meals for twelve kids. If ten other people match that donation, 132 kids will be fed for an entire week! No matter the amount that you are able to donate, please leverage that donation to inspire ten others to make a matching donation. Together, we can multiply our donations and make an enormous impact for the families and kids in our community. Its the x10 Challenge!
Donating is easy. Just click here and make whatever donation you can. I would love it if you would use the custom name feature and include my name in parenthesis. After that, share your donation and try to get ten more people to join our fight against hunger!
If you are looking for more ways to take action in the community, check out these 13 Ways Families Can Help Fight Hunger by Coffee Cups and Crayons.