Little People, Big Hearts, Big Impact

Written by: Amy Cahill

How can we make sure that all kids get enough to eat?  “Give them as much pizza as they want!”  - Hannah, 7

Our kids are definitely creative problem solvers. Whether it is finding a way to climb furniture or to solve significant world problems, our kids have solutions. Now it is time for us, as parents, to be creative problem solvers.  We seek out opportunities for quality family time and we all want our kids to grow up to be compassionate and helpful. So how can we create family outings that make a difference in the community and teach our kids worthwhile life lessons?  Recently, my son and I volunteered with the organization More Than Milk.  This inspired me to make helping others a consistent family activity.  Every month I will be exploring ways to help different causes and expose my son to opportunities to make the world a little brighter. This month's cause: Child Hunger.

Contrary to what many people believe, child hunger is not an issue unique to third-world countries. In fact, child hunger is a very real problem in the United States and it is a problem that has grown since the economic downturn. Right here in Chicago, one in six kids goes to school every day without breakfast. For another one in six kids, lunch will be his last meal of the day.  There isn’t enough food in his family’s refrigerator or cupboards for dinner.   

Studies show that inadequate nourishment can have devastating effects on children. Lack of nutrition can lead to poor health, developmental and learning delays, poor achievement in school, and slowed mental and physical development.  Good nutrition is particularly important for babies, toddlers, and young children up to five.  Without proper food, a young child's immature immune system is weakened, making him more vulnerable to sicknesses.   

Now back to the question, this time directed at parents: How can we make sure that all kids get enough to eat?  Here are some ideas for what you can do with your family:

- Organize a canned food drive in your neighborhood or school and donate the food to the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Chicago’s primary food bank.

- Volunteer at a community garden. Go to Growingpower.org for information about working for a day at their urban farm.

- Contact a food pantry or soup kitchen in your neighborhood to help sort, deliver, or serve food.

Knowledge is power.  Start the conversation right now through literature.  Suggested books to explore the topic of hunger further:

- Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan

Child hunger is a monumental problem, but with every can collected, every dollar donated, and every meal served, the problem becomes a little smaller.  Help your child learn that even though he is not a “big person,” he can make a big impact. 

Please check back next month when we discuss ways we can help the elderly with the issues they face.      

Posted on March 19, 2012 at 12:48 PM