2012 Go Orange for No Kid Hungry Essay Contest Winner: Athena

Youth Advocates

Author's Note: Orange isn’t just the color of team No Kid Hungry, it is actually the color of hunger awareness.  On September 6th, individuals, schools and corporate partners decked themselves out in the color orange and participated in Go Orange for No Kid Hungry to help raise awareness to the 1 in 5 America kids who struggle with hunger. In addition to rocking the color orange, students under the age of 21 were encouraged to submit a written response to the following question: “Why is ending childhood hunger in America important to you?”  Three winners, in two age categories, under 15 and 15 and over, were selected.  Featured in this blog is 14 year old Athena who won first place in the under 15 category.

14 years old
Brooklyn, NY

Mariana satisfactorily put down her pen after a long night of homework. With a slow sigh, she shut her notebook and placed it in her book bag. Exhausted, she snuggled into her bed. Although her eyelids yearned to droop down, to finally close after another long day, she simply couldn’t fall asleep. She gently rocked back and forth as she tried to sooth that empty feeling she had in her belly; she hadn’t eaten since her school lunch period at 9:50 AM. Mariana grimaced at the pain. She felt like her stomach was ripping itself to shreds.

As Mariana tried to remember her schedule for the next day, her thoughts were interrupted by a ferocious growl from her stomach. Like all hard-working students after a day of school, homework, and studying, Mariana needed her sleep. However, her hunger was keeping her awake and in pain.

Mariana’s story of hunger is similar to many others. In fact, Mariana is far from alone. One in five children in America- that’s about 16 million kids- go to sleep hungry. One in five children don’t have enough to eat, and instead of spending time concentrating on their schoolwork, friendships, extracurricular events, and other things that children should be experiencing, they are thinking about how long it will be before they get their next meal.

I believe that it is integral to end childhood hunger in America. Food- something so basic- is just so essential. People need food to be healthy, to function properly, to think straight. It is almost impossible that a hungry child can concentrate on what is being taught in the classroom when their bellies are aching and their minds are starving. Just like automobiles simply cannot move without fuel, children cannot work to their fullest potential when they are deprived of food.

Approximately 16.1 million children are in poverty in America. On a more optimistic note, a whopping 18.2 million students registered for college as of 2007, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. More and more teenagers, including record numbers of women and minorities, are working hard to go to college. Now more than ever, children who struggled with poverty are getting educated in great schools and earning amazing jobs. However, hunger can have a negative effect on students who may not be able to work to their fullest potential.

Worldwide problems like poverty and hunger are not very easy to solve. We cannot simply snap our fingers and hope that these massive problems disappear before our eyes. However, I think that America’s children are bound to do great things. I believe that our first step towards ending poverty and world hunger is to feed our hungry children. Children and teens like Mariana can change the world. We will get to great places, but first we just need to help America’s next generation of innovators, problem-solvers, and leaders. And we can help them by feeding them.