If you're reading this, chances are you're fairly privileged. You know where your next meal is coming from and you probably have a fully stocked kitchen at home. But of course, not everyone shares your good fortune. And giving back and teaching your kids about the problems that other people are facing is incredibly important in general - it helps them develop empathy and caring, and a lifetime of good habits and morals. Charity starts at home, after all.
We've partnered with Feeding America for this list of ways to talk to your kids about the hunger problem.
1. Make It Relevant.
Encourage your child to put himself or herself in someone else’s shoes. What would he or she think and feel if there wasn’t enough to eat? Share information about what is happening in your city with Feeding America's Map the Meal Gap resource.
2. Teach Through Example.
Designate a jar to collect money for a hunger relief organization, and add your own spare change. Suggest bringing meals to people in your community who may be ill or facing a family emergency, and invite your child to help. You can visit Feeding America's Hungry to Help page and download their Family Action Plan to get things started.
3. Share Your Own Stories.
Perhaps you have a meaningful volunteer experience, or perhaps you have experienced hunger yourself. Sharing these experiences will help your child make a personal connection to the issue. If you don't have a personal experience, Feeding America offers some real life experiences of hunger in America that you can share, like Zoey's story.
4. Provide An Explanation.
Explain that there are many reasons why people suffer from hunger and that they may face hunger for different lengths of time. If you and your child have unanswered questions, visit Feeding America's Hunger in America page for more information.
5. Encourage Children To Talk About Their Emotions.
Help your child understand that it’s okay to feel sad or frustrated about problems they see in the world, including hunger. Make sure to discuss the ways that your child can take action to help solve these problems, and you can get some inspiration from Feeding America's Family Action Plan.
6. Engage Them With Their Own Imaginations.
Ask your child to describe his or her perfect world. What creative ways can your child come up with to solve problems like hunger? Have your child draw and color his or her perfect world using page six of the guide in the Family Action Plan.
7. Show Them How They Can Make A Difference.
Prepare meals for a local meal program, collect food for the local food pantry, or take part in a walk to end hunger. Getting involved in direct service, such as serving meals to people in need or volunteering at a food bank (find your local one here), can help children connect to those affected by hunger.
8. Inspire Them To Make Choices.
If your family decides to make a monetary donation, involve your child in the decision about where the money should go. If a birthday or holiday is coming up, give your child a choice of making a donation of food or money to a food bank or pantry in your community. Want to do more? Your kid can start their own fundraiser with Feeding America's Set The Table program.
9. Make A Plan For Your Family.
Show your child that ending hunger will not happen overnight—it’s important to have a long-term plan. Show them some of the resources from Feeding America and show them that while this is a huge problem, there are some really smart and passionate people working on it! And your family can get involved as well.