Fun-A-Day is all about fun and meaningful learning activities for young children. I usually focus on literacy, science, math, and other such activities. Today I’d like to focus on a different kind of meaningful learning activity – teaching kids to help fight child hunger in America. It’s a staggering statistic, but 1 in 5 American children can’t be sure where their next meal is coming from. That’s about 16 million American children who are dealing with the reality of hunger!
why is this important to me?
First of all, I have a son and I work with children. While my son has never known what it’s like to go without food, I think it’s important for him to understand that others deal with it every day. It’s important that he learns about the world around him and helps those who need it, when he can.
I taught kindergarten for 5 years at an amazing elementary school. The teachers and staff really focused on teaching the whole child and working with families and the community. The majority of our families were very much on the low end of the socio-economic scale. Many families worked multiple jobs to keep a roof over their kids’ heads. Some students came to school hungry . . . seriously hungry. They received reduced or free breakfast and lunch, and teachers were known to keep extra food on-hand.
encouraging kids to help
My preschool recently held a Fun Run and Fall Festival. While it was meant to be a fun time for the kiddos, we also linked it to Feed America. Miss Brit, one of my awesome colleagues, arranged to have donation boxes delivered to the school. We linked the donations to our Fun Run, asking each child to donate at least two items to participate. Prior to the day of the Fall Festival, our preschool teachers taught about helping others. We talked about thankfulness, how some children and their families can’t afford enough food, and about helping those in need. We were inspired by some of the following activities:
- Using Children’s Books to Raise Awareness about Hunger from Bits of Positivity
- 5 Activities to Teach Preschoolers About Hunger from Moments A Day
The children created start and finish signs, while another of my wonderful teammates made numbers for all of the kids participating in the Fun Run. The day of our Fall Festival was super duper cold, so we bundled all of the kiddos up in their warm winter clothes. The numbers were pinned to the back of their jackets, then we headed outside. The children ran around the front lawn, completing a half-mile run. We had parents and teachers cheering the children on, and they had an amazing time. After the Fun Run, we moved our Fall Festival inside with a painting activity, sack races, music, and relay races. The students had so much fun, and the preschool families donated over 200 pounds of food to Feeding America! There are more donations coming in every day, so I’m excited to see what’s been collected by the end of the month.
how you can help fight child hunger in America
SheKnows Hatch Project Hunger and Unilever Project Sunlight are focused on education children about hunger in America. I was moved by a video they shared in which tweens were given a grocery budget of $36 and challenged to create a week’s worth of meals within that budget. What a REAL and meaningful experience for these children! It taught empathy, math, life skills, and more. I already have plans to do something like this with my son, and I’m sure it will have a lasting impact. I encourage you to do the same!
They’re also running a program entitled Share A Meal, which is meant to bring awareness to child hunger in the States. I perused their Share A Meal toolkit, which lays out a variety of ways to get families involved in fighting hunger. I was impressed with how they brought ideas down to the kids’ levels. Children of every age can participate in one way or the other, as can their families! Additionally, the project focuses on how every little bit helps. The Fun Run my preschool hosted wasn’t a huge event (although we’re hoping to expand it next year), but it made a difference for our community. It made a difference for our students and families, as well. Kids need to see that their contributions count, no matter how small! It all adds up! How are you and your kids/students going to help combat child hunger in America? I would love love love to hear about your ideas and suggestions in the comments below!
About SheKnows’ Hatch, the Hatch Hunger Project and Unilever Project Sunlight:
SheKnows’ Hatch teamed with Unilever Project Sunlight to help families build awareness and take action around child hunger in America. The facts are startling: 16 million kids living in the United States don’t know where their next meal is coming from. That equates to one in every five children – enough to fill 18,000 school buses and 223 football stadiums. On average, those who live in food-insecure households have only $36.50 to spend on groceries every week. That means that 80 percent of children may not understand the everyday struggle their peers – many of whom could be their own friends or neighbors – confront when there’s not enough food on the table. The Hatch Hunger and Project Sunlight video and workshop aims to create empathy by showing kids what it means to shop for healthy, filling meals for an entire week on a thrifty budget. It teaches important math and teamwork skills. Finally, it is about action, empowering kids to have a positive impact on their community to Share A Meal with a family in need and donating food and canned goods to local food banks.