Hunger is a problem that too many Canadian children are familiar with. It may be surprising to learn that up to one in six children in Canada today face food insecurity -- Households with children under the age of 18 were at greater risk for food insecurity than households without children (15.6% versus 11.4%).
One of the reasons that this statistic is so surprising is because we just don’t talk about child hunger within our communities or families. What may be even more surprising for Canadians is that child hunger is happening in our communities impacting our children’s classmates and peers, 'friends' we see around our neighbourhood. Talking about the reality of hungry children in our communities plays an important role in driving awareness and motivating action.
But in reality, talking to our children about hunger among their peers is not an easy subject to breach -- especially as every circumstance is different. It's also not a simple fix.
We need to approach this topic with compassion and understanding so our children know that there is no shame in being hungry and so that they also have an appreciation of the important role nutrition plays in so many aspects of school from grades, to attention, to attendance overall. Honest age-appropriate conversation creates an extremely vital to forum to create a platform for change and to help develop a more global perspective and helping them become more vested in making a difference.
How do you talk to your children about hunger? With care to provide the facts as you know them, while helping to ending the stigma attached to child hunger. Be sure to note that hunger happens in our communities today, to people that we know but it's only a very small part of their lives and their story as a human being. They may also be interested to know there are many breakfast and school nutrition programs that teach kids about healthy eating and provide them some essential nutrition. There are many individuals and companies who make these programs viable and successful -- serving millions of meals each year!
Children are listening, and they want to find ways to help. When speaking to your children about child hunger, do so in a way that helps your child think critically about the problem. Encourage your child to think about how they would feel, if in a position of daily hunger. Help your child to imagine the things that might help, if they were in this situation. When we approach the issue of hunger from a place of compassion, we allow our children to understand the importance of tolerance and altruism, which will both be instrumental in helping the fight on child hunger.