Food and cooking take a major place in our lives during the holiday season. The majority of us have no difficulty putting food on our plates. We’ve got pantries, cabinets and refrigerators stocked with the things we love to eat, and because we have so much, it’s difficult for us to imagine what life is like for those who have little.
We’d like to think that hunger is a problem that only occurs in remote, third-world countries, but it’s rampant in the United States as well. One in five children in the United States is at risk of hunger. As difficult as it may be to believe, there are 20.5 million Americans who live in extreme poverty. Extreme poverty is defined as a family of four that brings in less than $10,000 per year in income.
Abundant, cheap food that requires little preparation and is high in sodium and fat content may contribute to not only the hunger problem, but the obesity epidemic as well. Many families work very hard to make ends meet, and when parents arrive home from work, they simply do not have the time or energy to prepare a meal with fresh, wholesome ingredients, so they opt for fast food or easy-to-prepare junk food with little nutritional value like Ramen noodles.
Hunger and poor nutrition affect young children by causing them to be too tired to do well in school, leading to health problems and issues with immune function, as well as higher stress levels.
This is especially upsetting, considering that enormous quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables that are produced in the U.S. each day. Much of this food goes to waste instead of into the mouths of those who need it most. A 2004 study reveals that as much as 40 to 50 percent of fresh food is wasted — it never gets eaten at all. The Society of St. Andrew’s Potato & Produce Project helps distribute food that was rejected from commercial markets because of cosmetic reasons (size, surface blemishes) and brings it to those who are in desperate need of it.
Here are a few more reputable charities that help feed children in America and all over the world:
So now that we’re into the holiday season, let’s all take the time to pray for or think about a child or a teen who is suffering from the effects of hunger. Give some of the great gifts you have to help those people who are most in need.