Talking to our little ones about childhood hunger can be challenging. It is tough (regardless of whether we are in need of food at home or in a position to give to others) to explain why some children have full pantries at home and full lunchboxes at school, while others don’t.
Food insecurity is complex and there is no one cause. Some of our participating kids’ parents are working multiple jobs, fighting cancer, overcoming the odds as refugees in a new country, or facing other tough circumstances. Some families may be facing a tough financial year and the situation is only temporary.
While none of us have the perfect way to handle these hard questions, here’s how a few of us like to approach the conversation.
“I always like to stress first and foremost that all children are special, and having or not having food at home is not an indicator of a child’s value or how much they are loved. Then we talk about sharing. If 2/3rds of the class has lots of food and 1/3 of the class does not, wouldn’t the 2/3rds want to share?!”
– Laura Dille, Senior Director of Programs
“At 6 years old my daughter asked me why some kids in her class were given bags of food. I decided to keep it simple and let her know that some of her friends are actually given breakfast and lunch at school during the week so they may need extra food over the weekends when they do not go to school. I reassured her that with the help of organizations like TABLE her friends will have lots of food and snacks to enjoy all weekend long! Now, when she has a friend over to play who brings a TABLE bag home, she puts the bag in a “safe” place for her friend.”
– Suzanne Tormollen, Director of Community Relations
“I think that one important thing to remember when speaking to children about hunger is to cultivate empathy. When children are encouraged to step into someone else’s shoes and think about the realities of what others are going through, such as how it feels to be hungry or how it would feel to not have food in your pantry, they learn to be more thoughtful and caring towards others. Activities like these can help pave the way for future conversations about the complex issues of poverty and food insecurity.”
– Michelle Perry, Nutrition Education Programs Associate
Regardless of the cause of food insecurity, no child should go hungry. You can reassure your child that TABLE is here for all kids in our community so no one has to worry about lack of food.
If you’d like to read more, here‘s another great resource we’ve found.