Most of us are aware of Eric Carle's beloved book The Very Hungry Caterpillar which follows the hatching of a tiny egg to its final metamorphosis as a butterfly. I like to use this book to explain to children what it means to be hungry and how hunger is solved by eating food, especially food that is good for us.
All living things are on the hunt for food; its acquisition is a driving force in life's activity, but what if one is unable to participate in the hunt or able to get enough food? The caterpillar was able to find food enough and more each day, including food that wasn't healthy for him. If he had not been able to have enough healthy food to eat, he would not have become what he was meant to be.
Just like that caterpillar, people cannot become who they are meant to be if they do not have enough, especially during the early years of their development. Guiding our children in making the right choices for their health and well-being as well as providing enough for their growing needs is a given, but some parents are not able – because of economic hardship – to do that in the way that they would like. Helping our children to be aware of food insecurity and hunger is important but even more so, it is important to empower them to be part of the solution to hunger.
We can teach our children to care and share with others by contributing non-perishable food items to the local food bank or to an organization that makes feeding the hungry a priority. When shopping, ask each child to choose something from a list to donate and allow them to physically contribute the item. For birthday celebrations or other important events, ask family and friends to contribute food or money to a food bank or other charitable organization that has a food pantry. Let children help shop for and prepare snack baggies for distribution. From the youngest to the eldest, we can all make a difference.
Read more about it from Nashville Public Library's collection of children's materials on this and other related topics.