Food insecurity is a term that I was unfamiliar with until this post. Of course I knew and understood what a lack of food in our community meant but the actual definition of food insecurity surpasses not knowing where your next meal will come from.
-I was asked to participate in the #FacesBehindHunger campaign, sponsored by ConAgra Foods and even though I have been compensated all opinions are strictly my own.
Did you know that anyone can be food insecure?
More than one-in-five children and more than one-in-four Latino children in the United States don’t know where their next meal is coming from, and nearly 16 million children in the U.S. are food insecure – meaning they don’t know how long the food they have will last, or whether their family will have resources to buy more. Food insecurity can lead to greater obstacles for children, such as having difficulty concentrating in school, lacking energy, and developing nutritional deficiencies.
For parents, food insecurity stems from not knowing how they will afford their family’s next meal. For children, food insecurity can be caused by the types of food they are consuming. A diet consisting largely of fast food or other nutritionally poor food options can lead to childhood food insecurity – children do not have to be starving in order to be food insecure.” – ConAgra Foods
When I read that statement I stopped in my tracks and was transported back to when I worked on a government program that helped people with disabilities find work and I remember this one distinct conversation I had with a lady over the phone “Can you please help find me a job? I will be losing my home on Friday” (this was Tuesday). I just remember the helplessness I felt over the phone because I knew that I personally could not help her find work since I lived in a different state and because I needed to first connect her with the resources to help her find work. I knew this would take some time and I knew a miracle like that would not happen in four short days. I also remember that terrible helpless feeling in my gut that someone in this country was about to lose everything. I couldn’t help in time then but I am so glad that I can help now.
Through the #FacesBehindHunger campaign, ConAgra Foods’ Child Hunger Ends Here program hopes to donate 5 million meals to Feeding America this year. Feeding America is the nation’s largest domestic relief organization, with a network of 200 food banks nationwide.
I’ve personally volunteered at the Food Bank of the Rockies (one of those 200 food banks nationwide) through my real estate company and it is so easy to help! The process for volunteering with them is easy and of course you can donate money to them as well.
In addition to sharing with you how you can help, I want to highlight some thoughts from Joe Sakic, a retired ice-hockey player and Olympian, on child hunger in America, his annual Joe Sakic Celebrity Classic golf tournament, and dinner event that benefits the Food Bank of the Rockies Children’s Programs.
Joe Sakic is a truly amazing person and I am so thrilled and grateful that I had the opportunity to interview him for the ConAgra Foods Child Hunger Ends Here – #FacesBehindHunger Campaign in Denver. I want to share with you that this campaign spans across the United States and that I was not the only one involved in sharing the stories of food insecurity and child hunger in America. Many bloggers and social media influencers were also part of this campaign and interviewed someone affected by hunger or a “Hunger Hero” in their city.
I want to begin with the one question of this interview that really stayed with me.
What key things motivate you to fight child hunger?
“The knowledge that we need to do it. I am privileged, I’m very lucky- when I grew up food was always provided. My parents worked real hard and provided all the meals for us and we never really had to think about eating.” He then added, “Just the knowledge that there are people that have to wait for the food bank to help them out… Especially the children… they’re kids and its not their fault, and not knowing when your next meal is going to be – where for us, we’re hungry and we’ll grab something to eat. Its hard to comprehend what they go through so you just know how important it is to help every kid not feel that way.”
Joe Sakic’s Celebrity Classic fundraiser began with an idea. A friend of his was volunteering at the food bank and, knowing that Joe Sakic was part of the Avalanche Hockey Team, approached him and suggested that he should think about doing a golf tournament in his name to help raise money for the food bank. Joe and his wife felt very strongly about this idea and felt that it was the perfect opportunity to give back to the community and food bank. The Joe Sakic Celebrity Classic has been going strong for 18 years and according to NHL.com, “Through both team and personal initiatives, Sakic has helped raise nearly $1.8 million for Food Bank of the Rockies, providing more than 7 million meals to hungry children and their families.” This article was published in 2007 so you can only imagine how many more children and families he’s been able to help in the 7 years since that article.
When asked what motivated him to keep the fundraising efforts going after so many years, Joe explained that he enjoyed doing it. Most importantly he told me that one time his wife, himself and his children went to an after school site because he wanted his children to see what it was all about. When he saw those kids studying, with smiles on their faces because they had eaten and had food accessible to them he thought to himself, “That’s what its all about.” He then added, “And when you go to the tournament, you see the different kids say how they feel. The one thing with kids is that they tell the truth and when you see their emotions and what it means to them to get the things we just take for granted and its a pretty impressive site.”
Regarding the Golf Tournament, he added “We (his wife and he) love the people that are here at the food bank and we know how important they feel it is to help fight childhood hunger and we feel the same way.” Joe added that we live in a community that really does give back. He explained to me that in the last 18 years the number of people who want to help out has increased more and more but he also appreciatively shared with me that he’s had some sponsors be part of the event for the entire 18 years its been around. Joe also highlighted that the event is a fun experience for all involved from the golf tournament to having a great dinner that usually had a comedian, event, or some music before hand. In his words, “I just think its a great two days and you enjoy your time – but most importantly, you know you are there giving back.”
Are there any other ways that you fight child hunger in your community?
Helping doesn’t stop at the Joe Sakic Celebrity Classic event. When I asked Joe if there are other ways that you fight child hunger in your community, he went on to share simple and easy ways we can all help. He suggested we look for any King Sooper (one of our grocery stores) events or “Put loose change in a box” found at Panera. These boxes are for donations to the Food Bank of the Rockies and can be found near the register at local Panera stores. Since the Food Bank of the Rockies is able to provide 4 meals out of every $1 they receive (through volunteers and donations) Joe urges us to keep in our minds that one dollar can feed a child for an entire day, “…everyone has loose change in their car – you grab four quarters and throw it in and you just fed a kid for a day.” I completely agree with him! Next time you want to toss out your change, donate it because in his words, “…its just little things like that and all those little things add up to a big thing.” Through our conversation Joe did talk about a few other programs that through his fundraising efforts has been able to help with. He was very proud that he’s been able to help children through those programs. You can read more about them at the Food Bank of the Rockies Website.
Joe’s final remarks in our interview were, “The big thing is childhood hunger is not going away and whether you help out at this event, coming to the golf tournament or dinner is huge but if not there’s other ways to help out the kids. You can help out at any time of year. Hunger doesn’t go away so we could use your help at any time.”
Food for thought: Hunger numbers specific to Denver
1 in 7 Coloradans struggle with hunger – nearly half are children. The Food Bank of the Rockies provides food for 411,000 people annually and distributes 121,000 meals daily through 800+ hunger relief programs. As one of the largest hunger relief organizations in the Rocky Mountain Region, they are able to use 96 cents of every dollar for their food distribution programs. -Source: The Food Bank of the Rockies.
Together with ConAgra Foods you can help
It’s easy to make a difference! Look for the red pushpin and locate the code found on specially-marked ConAgra Foods products. For each 8-digit code entered at www.ChildHungerEndsHere.com, ConAgra Foods will donate the monetary equivalent of one meal to Feeding America: One code = one meal to Feeding America.
My takeaway: I am beyond THRILLED that I was able to participate in this campaign. I too was very privileged growing up. We always had food on the table – my mom is an exceptional cook and I am grateful that she inspired me to appreciate food. Through my blog I hope to be able to help bring awareness to food insecurity and child hunger in America. One of my dreams is to be able to use my recipes for good and be able to educate people on how to eat well (I would also like to go back to school to study nutrition). I also want to thank Kim (pictured in our selfie all the way down) for touring me around the food bank, she’s been working there for well over 10 years. She is so passionate about helping people.
Below are some of the photos from the interview and my tour around the Food Bank of the Rockies.
Above and below: Joe Sakic and I
Below: Touring the food bank. When I first came here I was AMAZED by how large and organized the food bank was.
One of the things you can do as a volunteer is pack pallets of food to be shipped to local organizations that help out the community. You receive a checklist and you build your pallet. Its really cool!
Below are some of the trucks at the Food Bank of the Rockies. Kim told me the food bank has 24 trucks that deliver 1000lbs of food!
This blog would not be complete without a selfie! Below: Joe, me and Kim