As part of House Party's efforts to give back to our community this holiday season and highlight ways that you can do the same (you can read more on this here and here), our team recently spent the day volunteering at the nearby Food Bank for Westchester.
The Food Bank is a crucial link in Westchester County's community-support system. It distributes food to over 225 hunger-relief programs in the area, like food pantries, shelters, and soup kitchens, reaching an estimated 200,000 people (including seniors and children).
Hunger is, without a doubt, one of the biggest problems we face today. 1 in 6 Americans - 50 million people - struggle with "food insecurity," not always knowing where their next meal is coming from. Hunger isn't an intangible issue, afflicting only people we don't know, in places we've never been; it affects our families and our neighbors, which means it affects all of us.
Children are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of hunger. 16.7 million American children don't have consistent access to enough nutritious food, which:
- Weakens their immune systems, increasing the risk of illness and infection.
- Makes learning difficult. Children who are hungry have difficulty focusing in school, impacting their grades and placing them at a disadvantage relative to their food-secure peers.
- Inhibits their development. As Feeding America points out, "Good nutrition, particularly in the first three years of life, is important in establishing a good foundation that has implications for a child's future physical and mental health, academic achievement, and economic productivity."
During our day at the Food Bank, we filled dozens of "backpacks" - tote bags filled with ingredients (and a recipe) for an easy, healthy meal that schoolchildren can take home from school on Friday. This initiative started when a teacher noticed that her students were struggling to focus on Mondays; she soon realized that they were distracted because they were hungry. While school breakfasts and lunches have helped students during the week, many of them still lack predictable, healthy meals over the weekend.
If you're interested in learning more, I highly recommend the documentary A Place at the Table, released earlier this year. By following three Americans struggling with food insecurity and showing how tragically common their stories are, the film, in its own words, "shows us how hunger poses serious economic, social and cultural implications for our nation, and that it could be solved once and for all, if the American public decides - as they have in the past - that making healthy food available and affordable is in the best interest of us all."
In a country as wealthy as ours, no one should go to bed hungry - especially our children. This holiday season, we encourage you to explore the simple ways you can make a real difference in your own community. Giving back is very rewarding!
[author] [author_image timthumb='on']#[/author_image] [author_info]Jared works in House Party's Business Intelligence department, where he prepares reports and has other PowerPoint-related fun. He's the voice behind the @housepartyfun Twitter account! Originally from Maine, he now lives in Brooklyn, NY. In his spare time he enjoys books, movies, music and witty Twitter banter. His party advice? Get more ice. You know you're going to need it. [/author_info] [/author]