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

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 Emily, who won second place in the under 15 category.

14 years old
Columbus, GA 

It has been asserted that poverty is a cycle. If you grew up in low income housing, statistics bear that it is likely your children may grow up to live the same, and so on and so on. Likewise, the same can be said for hunger. If you grew up hungry, it is likely that your children may grow up hungry as well. It is a difficult cycle to break.

Imagine that you are six years old and at home with your three younger siblings while your parents are out trying to provide for your family. Your stomach growls from hunger pains, as you haven’t eaten all day, and you find only empty shelves in the tiny place you call home. It sounds like you are in a third world country, but sadly, you are not. This feeling, this ache from being deprived of food, is happening in our own country. Childhood hunger is happening in the United States.

As I walk into our house, I am overwhelmed by the smell of macaroni and cheese. My cynical mind thinks “great”, as I had had that for lunch. At dinner, my family sits around the table to enjoy this repetitive meal, for which I am minimally grateful, and we share the highlights of our day. My family’s meal time is the most important part of our day; it connects us with each other, the quiet time in the chaos of our busy lives.           

Now think of a family that doesn’t get to sit around the dinner table and listen to each other share their day’s joys and sorrows. Think of a family whose parents are out working all night, trying to earn enough money that they may bring home food to feed their family that week. What people don’t think of often is that these children are not only growing up in environments without adults present, but that these children, in our very own country, are growing up hungry.

Ending childhood hunger is important to me simply because it is not just. No child should ever go hungry. Sometimes, when I would not like the green vegetables on my plate, my mother would often say “the starving children in Africa would be happy to eat those.” That statement could not be truer, but African children are not the only ones who would have enjoyed my veggies. What my mother should have been saying is “the children two miles down the road would be happy to eat those.”  

I believe that hungry children do not perform as well in school as those who are fed. Hungry children can resort to improper or illegal activity to find food, and they struggle to break the cycle of dependency. If we can teach younger Americans to be self-sufficient, this cycle of hunger may soon deteriorate. Most importantly, perhaps bringing massive attention to childhood hunger may just be the beginning of its end.