#Expanding the Table– U.S. Faith-Based Community Uniting to Defeat Summer Hunger

I live in Oklahoma, the state that ranks 51st on the list of kids that are on free and reduced lunch during the year that don’t eat during the summer.

This fact is unacceptable.

How could Feed the Children, one of the nation’s largest hunger organizations be headquartered in Oklahoma and not address the hunger needs in our own backyard?

I knew that during my tenure at Feed the Children, change would need to happen.

So, beginning with a conversation and challenge from Audrey Rowe, Administrator of USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) in 2013, Feed the Children made a plan.

We knew our lack of experience would limit us if we didn’t have support of partners. We’d need guides to contribute their wisdom to our efforts. And last year, USDA’s FNS along with No Kid Hungry gave us lots of great advice. With their encouragement, we began.

Last summer in Oklahoma City, Feed the Children rolled out our pilot Summer Food and Education Program in partnership with FNS, the Oklahoma Department of Education, PepsiCo Food for Good, local schools and churches to form the first coalition on childhood hunger in Oklahoma.

For 9 weeks, we served over 8,654 meals on site through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and provided an additional 186,000 take-home meals to children and their families.

IMG_1715We learned that organizing community leaders around summer meal programs actually is not as daunting as we first thought. Church and other faith based groups with established programs for kids in the summer serve as built in partners and host sites.

And this is the good news I want to share: in one summer, Feed the Children’s efforts helped to increase the number of kids fed in the state of Oklahoma by 30%.

We still rank 51st but we know, in time, this fact about Oklahoma will change.

In light of our experiences, on Tuesday, February 3, FNS invited us to share our story at The White House.

Feed the Children, in partnership with the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and the USDA FNS, convened a forum called “Summer Meals 2015: Expanding the Table.”

I sat among 40 leading national and local faith-based and non-profit organizations–all showing our support for the 2015 Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).

As the session began, we heard from Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack who shared of his passion for no child going to bed hungry in the US. He reminded us that hungry kids in the US are hungry of no fault of their own. We all need to ban together to feed kids when school is out of session.

Next, I moderated a panel with community partners Dr. Kathy Krey, Director of Research for the Texas Hunger Initiative at Baylor University, and Dr. Judy Goforth Parker, Secretary of Health for the Chickasaw Nation, sharing stories of lessons learned from summer meals. For example, Dr. Krey spoke of the value of “everybody doing something.”

“Even if all you can do is assist at summer meal sites by opening up milk cartons for kids–do it,” she said. “We must all do our part.”

The forum resulted in the large community of leading nonprofit and faith-based organizations pledging their individual and organizational support and commitment to address summer hunger, the results of which will greatly impact children throughout America.

IMG_9146It was an imperative that I sign the pledge and become a summer meal champion.

Following the meeting, Feed the Children organized a Twitter Town Hall, using #ExpandingTheTable as the hashtag, to disseminate the message of support with those organizations at the forum and encourage others to join in the call to action. The conversation among leading advocates for hunger in the US included: FNS, No Kid Hungry, the Salvation Army, and Church World Service, and was incredibly informative.

The forum marks the first time the national faith-based community has collectively partnered with FNS in support of SFSP, which is typically organized on a grassroots level to provide free meals and snacks to low-income children during the summer months.

It was a good day at Feed the Children as we expanded our table to welcome even more partners.

I’m looking forward to what the future holds for Feed the Children as we feed even more children this summer in Oklahoma and beyond.

Rocking and Rolling for Hunger in New Orleans

Last weekend, Feed the Children participated in its first Rock N’ Roll Marathon in New Orleans. Our goals were simple: raise awareness and funds to defeat hunger and have fun doing it! 400 families in the Central City section received food and essential products for the week. Thomas Morstead of the New Orleans Saints served as our team captain. 

We hope this event was just the start of future pursuits for #TeamFeedtheChildren.  Heather Montgomery, a blogger shared her experience being a part of the weekend and we knew you’d be inspired by it. Here’s her story:

This past weekend, not only did I get to run my first post baby half marathon, but I got to meet up with fellow runners and bloggers, and do some good for the city of New Orleans. For those that don’t know, I was born right outside of the city in Metairie, and I grew up about 30 miles away. I still consider it home, as all of my family is still there, so I was excited to give back and help Feed the Children last Saturday. . . . .

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Feed the Children was the benefitting charity for this race, which I was happy to hear. We have been supporters of the charity for years, and it was really great to see them in action in the community. On this day, 400 families were going to be given food, toiletry items, haircuts, lunch, and fro yo! We arrived at the Apex youth center and a line had already formed outside.

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We arrived just in time to throw on some volunteer t-shirts and catch the end of the volunteer meeting.

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Families would go through the inside of the center and then out onto the basketball court where we had boxes of food and such. Whole Foods was there giving away fruit, and we manned the milk station.

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There was a DJ, a lot of amazing volunteers, and…..

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THOMAS MORSTEAD! He is the punter for the New Orleans Saints….and if you know ANYTHING about me, you know I love Saints football. Heck, I stalked Malcolm Jenkins in the New Orleans airport last year so I could get a picture. Thomas does a TON for the city of New Orleans. He is always in the news helping different charities, and it was so great to meet him. He actually took the time to talk to me which was super nice. He and his wife were running the 10k the next day, and he told me he wasn’t in running shape so he hoped a lot of people stopped him along the way so he could get a break! The coolest thing was not once did he “act famous”. He graciously took photos when asked, but I constantly saw him working, carrying boxes, and helping people…and it was awesome.

After my total geek out moment, it was back to work. I moved over to the boxes provided by AVON, helping hand them out to the grateful families.

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It was such an amazing experience getting to give back during a race weekend, and see where the charity money goes. Yes I could have been out on the beautiful day that is was exploring the city or enjoying my first baby free weekend with Bobby, but this was way, way more important, and I am so glad that Rock ‘n Roll made it possible for us to take part. We need to never forget while we are enjoying our racecations and running our miles, that there are families out there thankful just for a quart of milk and a free haircut. It really makes you realize how truly blessed we really are, and how great Rock ‘n Roll is for having a charity for their races!

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Thanks to Larisa for some of the photos!

QOTD: Have you ever helped out at a charity event?

I’m Running to Defeat Hunger

I am doing something that I thought I’d never do. On January 23rd, I will be running my first ever marathon!

When I first learned that Feed the Children was the benefiting charity of the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon in New Orleans this month, I made the commitment to run a full marathon on behalf of the children we serve.

MK2022 Employee Swag Day Aug 2014 PAllen (15)I am 46 years old and prior to this experience have never considered myself much of a runner (though I have played other sports).

In fact, it had been several years prior to my current marathon training that I had even put on a pair of running shoes with the intent of running in them. The longest distance I had ever run prior to my commitment was 6 miles and that was a lifetime ago.

Number one question that my friends and family have asked over the last couple of months has been is this difficult? Absolutely!

In order to run 26.2 miles you have to train for months.  Marathon training requires a lot of time, dedication and hard work. You have to be prepared to run in all kinds of conditions, the heat, the cold, rain and snow. Adding to the difficulty I experienced a fairly significant groin injury, had cortisone shots in both knees, and had muscle soreness like I have never experienced before, even during all my years of sports.

But, do the hardships that I have faced in my training compare to those faced by the children we serve each and every day?

Absolutely not! I accepted this challenge because I want to do my part to raise awareness on the issues of hunger.

Our vision of “no child going to bed hungry” will not happen on its own.

It will take each and every one of us to take a stand, make a commitment and unite together to defeat hunger.

As a father of four children, I cannot imagine my children having to worry about when or if they will eat again. Every child deserves to experience the awesomeness that goes along with being a kid and should never have to spend one second worrying about their next meal.

The fact that nearly 16 million children in our own country live in a food-insecure household is simply unacceptable to me. New Orleans is no exception with 1 in 6 people facing hunger issues on a daily basis. Yet, I believe the awareness we are bringing to hunger in New Orleans can change this!

What can you do to help Feed the Children realize our vision of no child going to bed hungry? Join Team Feed the Children as we run to end childhood hunger and make our miles meaningful.  Join us or donate toward our efforts on our website.

Chris is the Senior Director of Corporate Donor Relations at Feed the Children.

Youth Group Defeats Hunger for 400 Families

We all say that we want no child to go to bed hungry. But what if you believed it could be true?

Consider this: the youth group of Henryetta Church of the Nazarene in Henryetta, Oklahoma believes that they can change the status quo of hunger in their town.

At the beginning of this school year, Henryetta’s youth pastor, Jeff Williamson, started a conversation with his students about the fact that every day 1 in 5 kids is at risk of going to bed hungry in the United States. He told his students: “How can this be here in America? There’s a need in our own city. We need to do something about it.”

His students agreed.

On October 11-12, Pastor Jeff and the students selected Feed the Children as their partner and planned a “fast” to raise money for hungry kids in their town.

Students asked church members, teachers and friends to sponsor them for every hour that they thought the student could go without food. Each student had to find 20 sponsors to donate $10 each. When the kids doubted they could find 20 sponsors, Pastor Jeff told them to count how many Facebook friends they had. That made the project seem easier.

Then they considered how the students would spend the hours of their fast. Pastor Jeff encouraged the group to gather at a local park and sleep outside for the night, like the homeless often have to. They agreed to sleep out, and not in tents or on air mattresses either. They slept in cardboard boxes. Even though it was colder than usual that night in the park, 25 students and 7 adults outlasted the night.

We asked Pastor Jeff how he got his students to sleep outside in the cold for a night. He said:  “I challenged them to experience something new. I told them about all the people I’ve met in our town who camp out in the woods on a regular basis.”

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Over and over, the students said the same thing about the experience: “I never knew how it felt to be homeless.”

In the end, their efforts raised over $10,000, which they have designated to bring one Feed the Children truck, filled with boxes of food and everyday essentials, to their community. The truck will arrive with a week’s supply of food, along with personal hygiene and household items, for 400 families in need. It is scheduled to arrive before the Thanksgiving holiday.

They’ve also approached several major grocery stores in their community asking them to donate turkeys. They hope to enhance the Feed the Children boxes with a free turkey and loaf of bread.

On October 20, members of the church visited with Feed the Children staff in Oklahoma City and presented the check for the funds they raised to Feed the Children President and CEO, Kevin Hagan.

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Pastor Jeff said, “We want the community to know that we see them. They don’t have to be hungry over the holidays. God never intended the church to sit still while people are hungry in this world.”

When asked how families will be chosen to receive the food boxes, Pastor Jeff said they’re already working with school administrators in their town to select those who will receive the help.

We’re so proud of their efforts and what this group is doing to defeat hunger where they live!

Would you like to organize a similar project in your community? Contact us– we’d be glad to support you! 

Hunger Headlines- Week of September 25

See what is going on in the world of hunger this week. Check out these headlines:

Thought Leadership

Leadership Lesson: What Questions Are You Asking?

Feed the Children President and CEO Kevin Hagan writes this week about what forward-thinking organizations are all about: being curious. Though it might feel easier to assume or project to others that we have all the answers, Kevin says that we must be willing to ask great questions. Read more about some of the questions Feed the Children is asking itself, right on Kevin’s blog.

Poverty News

The U.S. is losing a generation to poverty

This week, when the United States Census Bureau released its poverty data for the year 2013, it showed the first significant decline in poverty since the Great Recession hit: down from 15 percent to 14.5. Greeted more cheerily by economic observers was the news that child poverty had made its biggest drop in years: down almost 2 whole percentage points. It was better news than observers expected. It’s all relative, though, and enthusiasm was qualified. These numbers are still higher than they were before the recession. Read the rest of the article at The Daily Beast.

Hunger News in the U.S.

Who can afford to eat healthy food in the United States?

We all know that good food for kids comes in the form of fruits and vegetables. But what if families don’t have access to these kinds of food? What if families who do have access to these kinds of foods can’t afford to buy them? A new study examines what it takes to eat well in the United States. Read more about this study on Business Cheat Sheet

Hunger News around the World

World hunger easing but 1 in 9 people undernourished: food agencies

Who is hungry in the world? The number of hungry people in the world has fallen sharply over the past decade but 805 million, or 1 in 9 of the global population, still do not have enough to eat, three U.N. food and agriculture agencies said recently. The number of chronically undernourished people dropped by more than 100 million, equivalent to a country the size of the Philippines, according to a report by the United Nations food agency (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and World Food Programme (WFP). Read more of this article on Reuters.

Brazil Removed from UN World hunger map

Do you know what countries are on the UN hunger map? You can download it here

The Brazilian government Tuesday hailed a new United Nations report that for the first time removed Latin America’s biggest country from the World Hunger Map. “Leaving the Hunger Map is a historic milestone for Brazil. We are very proud because overcoming hunger was a priority for the Brazilian state,” Social Development Minister Tereza Campello said in a statement. Read this article on ABC News.

Hunger Headlines- Week of September 8

See what is going on in the world of hunger this week. Check out these headlines:

Thought Leadership

Leadership Lesson: The Burden and Blessing

Feed the Children President and CEO Kevin Hagan writes this week about his responsibility as a leader. It’s a blessing he says to interact with thousands of children across the world who are blessed because of our programs, but he also feels the burden to do more! It’s a conviction that he hopes our staff around the world also feels. Read this post on Kevin’s blog.

Poverty News

Gap in Diet Quality Between Wealthiest and Poorest Americans Doubles, Study Finds

Although the study found that the diet of all Americans improved on average between 2005 and 2010, the progress masked a decline in diet quality among the poor. The result: a doubling of the gap in diet quality between the wealthiest Americans and the poorest. Access to quality food at supermarkets is a key. Read this National Geographic article.

Poverty rate higher in suburbs, than cities, including Seattle area

When we think of poverty in the US, our mind often goes to the inner city, assuming that poverty is concentrated in urban area. However, a new study released recently states otherwise. From 2000 to 2011, the number of Americans living below the federal poverty level ($23,492 for a family of four in 2012) rose about 36 percent, to 46.2 million. Contrast that with the number of suburban poor, which grew 64 percent. Read more in the Seattle Times article

Domestic Hunger News

America May Have Worst Hunger Problem of Any Rich Nation

According to Gallup’s findings, cited by the OECD, Americans are far more likely to say they were unable to pay for food than citizens of other rich countries. In 2011 and 2012, 21 percent of U.S. citizens reported food trouble, versus 8 percent of British survey takers, 6 percent of Swedes, and 5 percent of Germans. Estonia and Hungary had bigger problems with food affordability than the U.S., but both are relatively poor among Global North nations. Read the rest on Slate

Food-Stamp Use Starting to Fall

After soaring in the years since the recession, use of food stamps, one of the federal government’s biggest social-welfare programs, is beginning to decline. 46.2 million Americans received food stamps in May (the latest data available), down 1.6 million from a record 47.8 million in December 2012. Some 14.8% of the U.S. population is on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, down from 15.3% last August, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. Read more good news on the Wall Street Journal.

International Hunger News

World Water Water Week: Five Countries Most Affected by Water Scarcity

At Feed the Children, we celebrated World Water Week August 31-September 5 with many other organizations. The World Water Week was instituted by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) in 1991 to raise awareness on water issues. Do you know the five countries most likely to face drought? Educate yourself. Read the International Business Times article here. 

Hunger Headlines – Week of August 25, 2014

See what is going on in the world of hunger this week. Check out these headlines:

Thought Leadership

Leadership Lesson: Taking Time to Celebrate

Feed the Children CEO and President, Kevin Hagan writes this week more about his recent visit to Kenya to launch the new Feed the Children brand in Africa. “We must celebrate our victories. It is so easy in the non-profit world to be overcome with the needs around the world that we don’t take time to stop and see how far we’ve come as industry.” Read the entire post here.

Poverty News

People in poverty tend to look for quick health fixes: study

People in low-income brackets are more likely to look for a quick fix when it comes to getting healthy, suggests a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Researchers at Concordia University in Montreal found that people in such brackets were less likely to try cutting back on sugar, working out more or drinking more water, and more likely to reach for diet pills, according to study leader Lisa Kakinami. Read this article on the New York Daily News.

If You Give Women in Poverty the Right Tools, They Will Flourish

When we raise up the women in the community, we also raise up the children. A new study examines the economic growth of several communities in Africa where women are given tools to thrive. Read this article on The Huffington Post.

Domestic Hunger News

Hit by poverty, Ferguson reflects the new suburbs

The violent confrontations between police and citizens in Ferguson, Missouri, highlight the rapid demographic shift in the suburbs, which are now home to a majority of the nation’s poor. There’s a growing number of people living below the poverty line in the suburbs, more than we might have imagined. Read this article on CBS Money Watch.

International Hunger News

Drought Hits Food Supplies in Central America

Central America is having one of its worst droughts in decades, and experts warned Thursday that major farm losses and the deaths of hundreds of cattle in the region could leave hundreds of thousands of families without food. The agricultural losses are largely in corn and beans, basic staples of the region’s diet, the United Nations’ World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization said. Read this article on ABC News.

Ebola May Leave 1 Million People In Need Of Food Help

The deadly Ebola virus that has killed more than 1,000 in West Africa is disrupting the flow of goods, forcing the United Nations to plan food convoys for up to a million people as hunger threatens the largely impoverished area. Amid roadblocks manned by troops and pervasive fear among the population of the dreaded disease, the worst-ever outbreak of Ebola is increasingly impacting the food supply in three countries. Read this article on The Huffington Post.

Where Are Our Christian Values?

Over the past several weeks, we’ve introduced you to the new Feed the Children. We’ve told you that our future lies with the children. The young without limits. The spirited who dream big. The hopeful who envision a better world, a world where no child goes to bed hungry.

We’ve told you that to end childhood hunger, we need to empower children, unite forces, and attack the problem from all angles and that it takes all of us in the fight: donors, experts, organizations, communities and leaders.

But we haven’t yet told you more about values. At Feed the Children, these values motivate us:

Challenge convention: we believe that a future without hungry children is possible.

Defend dignity: we believe in treating each child and family in the communities where we work with value and worth.

Champion partnership: we believe collaboration is the only way to end childhood hunger.

Value every donor: we believe in donors playing an active role in ending childhood hunger.

Drive accountability: we believe in making changes when something isn’t working and building on the success when it is.

When some look at this list they may ask, “What happened to the word ‘Christian?’ Wasn’t ‘Christian’ one of your values before? Are you no longer a Christian organization?

To answer these questions, we need to tell you bit more of our story.

In 1979, a group of Christian leaders sensed a calling to care for, protect, and feed children in need around the world. They read the exhortations of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 25 to feed “the hungry” and give water “to the thirsty” and provide “clothes” to those without.

In response, these Christians knew they needed to act. How could they not? Collectively, they began raising support and organizing leaders toward this cause, eventually founding the organization called Feed the Children in their hometown of Oklahoma City.

For over 35 years, Feed the Children has served thousands of communities all over the world and in the United States motivated by this same fact—Jesus teaches all of us to look after the most vulnerable citizens of this world.

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And we’ve done so without discrimination. We’ve fed children with Christian parents. We’ve given water to children in Muslim nations. We’ve helped children learn in the slums of Central America. We’ve given children permission to dream big for their future in America’s inner cities.

We’ve done so because it is the right thing to do. How can you see a hungry kid and turn away? Jesus couldn’t. And many of our employees have joined our team out of their own faith calling. They work tirelessly on behalf of the children not only because they believe in the mission that no child go to bed hungry but because it is what Jesus said to do.

This is our faith story: Feed the Children is a show, not tell, organization.

The great saint of the church, Francis of Assisi once said,  “Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words.”

This is why you no longer see the word “Christian” in our values statement. We believe we don’t need it.

In fact, we believe all of our value statements reflect who Jesus was and what he taught:

Didn’t Jesus challenge convention when he overthrew the money tables in the temple courts?

Didn’t Jesus defend dignity when he pushed the unlikely to the front of the line: the women, the children, and the sick?

Didn’t Jesus champion partnership when he chose 12 followers to journey alongside him for his teaching ministry on earth?

Didn’t Jesus value every donor when he taught the 5,000+ gathered on the mount and then fed them a plentiful meal too?

Didn’t Jesus drive accountability when he challenged the popular teachers of the day who were more interested making a dollar than they were caring for souls?

For these reasons and many more, our team is proud of our brand values. To live into a mission that loves, protects and defends kids is a worthy and exciting calling.

We believe the world needs more Christians who put feet to their faith and act on what they believe. Or as James 1:22 tells us, “Do not merely listen to the Word of God, but do what it says.”

This is most what we want you to know: Feed the Children is motivated by Jesus’ teachings every day. But you won’t find us congratulating ourselves from the mountaintops. With every child we feed, with every parent and caregiver of children we empower, with every community we engage with hope, we seek to BE Christ’s hands and feet in the world.

It’s Who You Know: Poverty and (Lack of) Connections

“It’s who you know” — it’s conventional, nearly cliché advice for succeeding in the workplace and in life. Career counselors, speakers, and advice columnists all say it. Network, meet people, do favors and be helpful so you can ask for favors later. It works, both to get ahead and as a safety net when things go wrong.

When Americans think of being well connected, they think of things like job offers and big breaks — things that grease the wheels and make life in the middle class smoother.

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But when you delve into the causes and contributors to poverty, you discover that connections aren’t just a nice-to-have. Knowing the right people protects you from being bullied and taken advantage of by landlords, business people, and employers. It also makes justice more likely — knowing the right people helps encourage the police to listen to and address your complaints when you’re mistreated.

“But,” you may protest, “those of us with means don’t enjoy complete immunity from injustice. We’re still lied to, stolen from, and mistreated by employers.”

That’s true. But we have the resources to defend ourselves and connections to those who can help us. We can rally friends and even get the media’s attention if we need it.

For example, a few years ago, my family had an insurance company try shameful and deceitful tactics to avoid paying a claim. This dragged on for months until we finally threatened to go public. They paid because we had the connections to give that threat teeth. When a friend found herself the target of a frivolous lawsuit, her network quickly produced an attorney who got the lawsuit dismissed pro bono.

Poverty and Lack of Connections

People in poverty don’t have connections.

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It’s hard to say which comes first, the lack of connections, the injustice and abuse, or poverty. But people under the poverty line lack family and friends to turn to when something breaks, a boss treats them unfairly, or a landlord tries to cheat them out of money. It’s a cutthroat world where people don’t play by the rules because no one is there to make them.

The United Nations defines poverty like this: Poverty is “a human condition characterized by the sustained or chronic deprivation of the resources, capabilities, choices, security and power necessary for the enjoyment of an adequate standard of living and other civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights.”

Listen to their stories. You’ll see it — to live in poverty is to live on the edge of catastrophe with no safety net, no recourse, and no back-up plan.

Mala

House in Sri Lanka
House in Sri Lanka

Several years ago, I met Mala in Sri Lanka. She lives at the end of a deeply rutted dirt path a few miles from the nearest real road. She told us through an interpreter how she skipped meals for months to save the money to purchase a piece of land closer to the main road. Moving her family closer to the road would make it easier to get her kids to school, and she knew that was the only way for them to have a better life than she had. But the landowner took her money, and then sold the property to someone else. Mala went to the police, but the landowner paid them to ignore her report. He stole her hard-earned money, and she lost the land.

Mala had everything – the drive and determination, the discipline to save, the savvy to find a piece of property — except one critical ingredient: she didn’t know the right people.

But this doesn’t have to be the story.

One of the most important ways Feed the Children fights poverty is by becoming a connection to resources, safety nets, and justice when it’s needed.

Elena

We help women like Elena. She lives in Honduras with four children, Edwin, Miguel, Francisco, and Leiry. After she was diagnosed with severe osteoarthritis, her husband left her and their kids for another woman (he said she complained about bone pain too much!). He refused to send money for the kids, so with a debilitating illness and no recourse to demand child support, she had to send her kids out to work, trying to sell snacks at bus stops. Sometimes they went a week without food.

Today, Leiry is in the fifth grade and thriving
Today, Leiry is in the fifth grade and thriving

But thanks to generous donors who helped start Feed the Children’s feeding programs in Honduras, she was able to get help. Today, one of her sons is grown up, the two other sons are thriving at a residential school for boys, her daughter is finishing 5th grade, and Elena and her daughter receive food and dry rations in exchange for cooking at the local feeding center.

Anne

We also helped Anne, who lives in Kenya with two children, a son and a daughter. Anne’s husband lied to her about a previous marriage and his status as HIV positive. She found out that both she and her son also had HIV when the boy was admitted to the hospital and received a blood test. Fortunately, she learned how to care for herself during pregnancy so her daughter is HIV negative. At age 3, her son lost his sight and shortly after, her husband left her.

Anne and her daughter show the beaded cards Anne creates
Anne and her daughter show the beaded cards Anne creates

Anne went into hiding, ashamed of her HIV status and overwhelmed with her son’s special needs. Without food, without income, and very sick, Anne was desperate. A friend told her that Feed the Children was running a support group for people with HIV and was giving out food. Once she had regained her strength, they invited her to attend weekly meetings where they encouraged the attendees to start doing something that could make money. Anne learned how to make beadwork and today, she makes beautiful pieces that she sells to Feed the Children and to couriers who sell to tourists.

She told us, “At the time when I first met Feed the Children officials, I was so down, hopeless and just didn’t know what to do with my life. Remember, I was hiding from the world because of my status. I didn’t have food or money. I was desperate. Feed the Children gave us food, yes, but what I really want to thank Feed the Children for is the skills training that they imparted on me and other ladies too who were in a similar situation like mine. These business skills are the best. My children never lack food, and they are going to school. Do you know that my special child would never have gone to school?  Feed the Children has gotten me out of poverty. I don’t want my children to be like me. I only studied until sixth grade.”

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Feed the Children Connects People

When you support Feed the Children, you help connect people like Elena, Mala, and Anne to the resources they need to make a better life. They can’t do it on their own. When kids and their families meet Feed the Children, they finally have someone to turn to and the boost they need to build momentum towards self-sufficiency and away from dependence. We help parents find ways to support themselves so their kids can go to school instead of working. We help kids get the food they need to grow and learn. We help communities become strong enough to help each other so they don’t need us anymore.

You can support schools, livelihoods, and infrastructure like water and sanitation here.

P.S. Want to learn more? Many have documented how important justice is to eliminating poverty. This site by the World Bank discusses the need for justice work around the world, while this video discusses the problem of “one kind of justice for the rich and another for the poor” in the U.S.  Organizations like the Equal Justice Initiative work to make sure that U.S. law enforcement and justice system applies the legal concept of “innocent until proven guilty” consistently no matter a person’s race or socioeconomic status.


 

 

 

Three Hunger Words You Probably Misuse and Don’t Understand

Think about the time you last said that you “loved” a thing in your house like a new mixer or a garage door opener. Or, when you voiced a desire to “collapse” after work when you were just extra tired. Or even when you cried and cried about something that really wasn’t worth tears.

In American culture, we have a tendency to exaggerate how we feel.  We love strong and dramatic metaphors. We use words out of context all the time.

We say our ice cream is awesome and so are our mothers. We say we want to kill someone when we’re just slightly annoyed.  We say we’re starving because we didn’t eat lunch until 3 pm.

We’re all guilty of such contextual language errors.

When we talk about childhood hunger, many of us are  just as guilty of misusing words, or we’re just plain confused. We hear the term food security and wonder, ”Is this about keeping children safe? Or setting security guards around food supplies?” We’re not exactly sure what the difference is between a hungry child and one who is malnourished (though one does seem more severe), or between children who are malnourished and children who are stunted. And if they’re different, are those differences significant?

Feed the Children wants to defeat childhood hunger with advocates like you.  To do this, we’re taking some time to define some of these key terms so we can understand each other better and be better advocates.

Three Hunger Words infographic: malnourished, stunting, hunger
Copyright Feed the Children 2014

Malnutrition

When we think of this word, we often see visions of big bellies and children nearing death. But the term malnourished has a much broader definition.

According to UNICEF’s glossary of terms, a child suffers from “malnutrition” (or is “malnourished”) if his or her diet does not provide enough essential nutrients to grow and remain healthy or if they are unable to fully utilize the food they eat due to illness. (This is also called “undernutrition.”) We can also say a child is malnourished if the child becomes obese from consuming more calories than his or her body can use.

Malnutrition is the underlying cause of about 45 percent of all deaths among children under five in the countries where we work.

Weakened by malnutrition, these children have lower resistance to diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria.  Children who are malnourished are much more likely to die from these diseases than children who are not.

Stunting

Most people think stunting is a word that refers to the size or height of a child. Just like malnourished, stunting is a term that covers much more than size.

UNICEF also provides us some guidance here when they say that stunting (or “chronic malnutrition”) can happen to a child if she does not consume enough essential nutrients over a long period of time. Stunting can start before a baby is even born if his/her mother doesn’t eat enough during her pregnancy. It can also start in the first months of life if the mother doesn’t eat well enough while breastfeeding or can’t feed the baby well enough other ways.

If a baby is malnourished for a long period of time, it doesn’t just stunt her physical growth. It can slow down her brain’s development, too. This makes it harder to learn and do well in school later on, and even can make it harder to earn a living as an adult.

Most tragic of all, if the child can’t get sufficient nutrition to stop and reverse the effects of stunting by the time he reaches the age of five, it’s too late. After age five, most of this damage to the child’s body and brain is permanent.

This is why we are focusing more and more on providing good nutrition for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. The first 1000 days of a child’s life (from conception to the child’s second birthday) are critical in order for her to grow and thrive throughout her life.

In the countries where we work, between 20% and 45% of children under five are stunted (chronically malnourished). For this reason, Feed the Children, along with the World Health Organization, the World Bank, the US Agency for International Development, host country governments and the international NGO community, are working together to fight stunting. It’s the number one priority for our international food and nutrition work.

Hunger

The word “hunger” can mean different things to different people. We usually think of the feeling we get in the pit of our stomach, a craving, maybe a growl or pain, or when it’s worst, a feeling of lightheadedness.

At Feed the Children, we call a child “hungry” if she can’t get the food she needs, whether that happens for a few days every now and then, once a week, or every day. Children grow so fast that if they have to go without enough of the right kinds of food even just for a day or two, it can slow down their growth and their learning.

So if a child in New Orleans fills up on junk food because fresh veggies are sold too far away from her home, she¹s still “hungry” (even if her tummy doesn’t rumble) because she is not getting enough of the right kinds of food.

Or if a child in Malawi is fed only corn porridge every day to fill up his stomach, he’s still “hungry” because he won’t be able to grow right without the vitamins and minerals he should be getting from vegetables and milk.

That’s why we want to create a world where no child goes to bed hungry. Hunger means the body isn’t getting something it really needs, and when children are hungry, it’s a big deal.

What hunger words confuse you?