Teaching Hunger to Our Children

Kansas City Moms Blog is thrilled to partner with Harvesters to highlight their work in supporting those in need of food assistance in our community.

The numbers are staggering.

In our area alone, more than 364,000 are food insecure – missing an estimated 65+ million meals annually.
More than 112,000 of these are children.
Only 59% of food insecure children in our area qualify for federal nutrition programs such as SNAP (food stamps), WIC or free and reduced-price school meals.

teaching hunger harvestersFood insecurity means that a person may have food today, but does not know if there will be food tomorrow or enough food for everyone in the household. Emergency food recipients represent a diverse cross-section of our population, often making difficult decisions between food and other necessities. Nearly half of all households receiving emergency food assistance have at least one adult who worked in the last year. Nearly 60% of those receiving food assistance are white. Sixteen percent have some college or a two-year degree; 8% have a four-year degree or higher. 

In short – food insecurity could happen to me. It could happen to you, too.

As a mom, it’s important to me that my kids understand food insecurity as a reality for many around us – from the stranger on the street to classmates or friends at church. But how can we as parents teach something that’s seemingly so foreign to many of us? How can we make food insecurity meaningful to our children?

The Harvesters Community Food Network is here to help.

Harvesters’ mission is to feed hungry people today and work to end hunger tomorrow.

Harvesters is a certified member of Feeding America which offers the following tips for approaching the topic of hunger with your children:

  • Make it relevant. Share information about what is happening in Kansas City using the Map the Meal Gap tool through Feeding America. Discuss what you and your children are thankful for and create an “I’m thankful” collage based on what you discuss. Encourage children to practice empathy and put themselves in someone else’s shoes. Help your children understand that not all children have the things they may take for granted.
  • Share your own stories. Have you had a meaningful volunteer experience, whether through Harvesters or another community food source, or experienced hunger yourself? Sharing these experiences will offer a personal connection to this issue. 
  • Provide an explanation. Explain that people suffer from hunger for different reasons. Click here to learn more about the face of hunger in our region. 
  • Talk about emotions. Explain that it’s OK to feel sad or frustrated about problems they see in the world, including hunger. Discuss the ways they can help support solutions.
  • Engage their imaginations. Ask children to describe their perfect world. What creative ways can they come up with to solve problems like hunger? Have your children draw and color their ideas using this activity sheet from Feeding America. Older children can write a story from the perspective of someone who is facing hunger. 
  • Show them how they can make a difference. Give children the opportunity to participate in an activity to fight hunger such as a food drive through their school, neighborhood or church. If possible, get your entire family involved with a local BackSnack program through Harvesters to help your children understand the reality of food insecurity among their same-age peers. Consider collecting money for a hunger relief organization or provide meals to people in your community after an illness or emergency and invite your children to help. Next spring, plant a row for the hungry through Harvesters and watch your children explore their green thumbs right in their own backyards.   
  • Continue the conversation. Explain that ending hunger will not happen overnight. Encourage children to keep learning about hunger issues. 

Note: The Feeding America Network is actively working to help support families facing disaster relief and recovery. There are five Feeding America food banks located in the area impacted by Hurricane Harvey that need your help. Please consider making a monetary donation to these food banks who are on the front lines of disaster relief: Food Bank of Corpus Christi; Food Bank of the Golden Crescent; Houston Food Bank; Southeast Texas Food Bank; and San Antonio Food Bank.

Tonya Blythe
Tonya is a wife and mom of six – two biological children, sons Javan (9) and Tiras (6), and four children (7, 6, 3 and 6 months) by way of foster care. She is a Kansas City transplant from Aurora, Colorado (by way of MIZZOU and Jefferson City, Missouri) who enjoys BBQ, taco trucks, and sports of most every variety. She’s passionate about foster care, living organ donation, social media and its many uses, and movie theater popcorn. Love is best expressed to her in the form of Excel spreadsheets, cute office products, and fountain sodas from Quik Trip.