I volunteer with a grassroots organization that assists people with HIV/AIDS. I know the faces . . . mostly adult, mostly male but one month there were two little girls in the line as we served the customary lunch of fried chicken, green beans, salad, rice with gravy and bread. One, age 7, quietly made her selections while her sister joyously announced, “I’m five and I am ready to eat!” We sat together and as they chatted I learned they did not always have a meal. Sometimes noodles only, sometimes a snack saved from school; rarely meat or fresh vegetables or fruit.
I realized that although our community is frequently showered with accolades there is another side to the story, especially for our youth. Here—as is true across the nation—one in five children struggles with hunger. We like to believe we know the faces of hunger; that in a community as prosperous as ours the instances of a toddler waking up in a home with an empty refrigerator or a young man going to bed without dinner are rare indeed. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
There are many wonderful local organizations large and small working to address the need. Currently at United Way, we are using our networks of businesses, nonprofits, and volunteers to bring awareness to the issue as we set out a Social Innovation Challenge to fund creative solutions. By spreading the word about the issue, by pledging “100,000 Kids Hungry No More” our voices will be heard and our children will be fed. #100KNoMore.