I covered the National Restaurant Show at McCormick Place over the weekend. It was a terrific show and there were plenty of good photo opportunities.
I neglected one. My neglect was unintentional. I was too preoccupied with other things.
When I get hungry, I cook. I shop for food. I write about food, photograph food, eat food, enjoy food, dine out occasionally, and never worry about where my next meal is coming from.
More than 16 million children in America are not so fortunate. Their parents struggle daily to feed them. Sometimes they do not know where their next meal is coming from. 16 million is roughly 20% of the nation's child population. In Illinois the figure is slightly higher at 23%.
That photograph I neglected to take was at the smallest exhibit at the Restaurant Show, Share Our Strength. You could have walked right by and not noticed it. Thousands probably did.
Share Our Strength was formed by siblings, Bill and Debbie Shore in Washington D.C. in 1984. Over the past 30 years it has grown into one the the largest organizations fighting child hunger in America. In 2007 the Food Network chose Share Our Strength as its exclusive charity. Several celebrity chefs promote and participate in Share Our Strength programs.
Their list of Partners and Allies is staggering, consisting of Who's Who in the food industry. Major corporations to local community organizations participate in Share Our Strength.
It is amazing that such a large organization had a tiny booth at the Restaurant Show. More amazing is the real work they do to fight child hunger in America.
Hungry children are not just on the street begging with their parents. They could be your neighbors, your children's schoolmates, your friends' children, or even your relatives.
Hunger is rising up the economic class structure in this stagnant economy. People, even in the middle class, struggle to keep and find jobs to feed their families. Food costs are rising. Incomes are stagnant.
Hunger is also a point of shame for many. Few will admit they cannot feed their children.
Somewhere in your community there is a group fighting childhood hunger. Ask around, the churches, synagogues, schools, community organizations, or food banks.
Writing a check is nice. Action is better. Get involved. The Share Our Strength website has a portal for people to get involved. There are letter writing campaigns to activities people can participate in.
The food community has stepped up every year to fight childhood hunger, nationally and locally.
But the real solution is to get everyday people involved. This is not a political issue. It is not a religious, liberal, conservative, or political party issue. It is not just a government issue.
Childhood hunger is a human issue. It is a real issue. It is something we, the people, can help solve. This is an issue that needs boots on the ground, fingers on the keyboards, and people at the neighborhood level to bring awareness and solutions locally.
You see kids walk to school every day. You see them in playgrounds, schoolyards, stores, or out and about with their parents. Just remember, one out of five of those kids is suffering from hunger.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead)
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