Forty million people in America struggle with hunger including 12 million children. Even in the world's greatest food-producing nation, 13 percent of households are estimated to be food insecure. Over 20 million children receive free or reduced-price lunch each school day.
I used to be one of them.
I was raised in rural, Mexia, TX, by two hard-working parents who always found a way to provide. Sometimes that meant relying on government programs like WIC (Women, Infants & Children) or food stamps to put food on the table. My siblings and I never knew we grew up poor because my parents were dedicated to ensuring we focused on important kid responsibilities. We concentrated on academics, athletics, church, and high school jobs while our parents worked full-time and made the tough decisions. Struggling with poverty and food insecurity is too often viewed as a choice or consequence rather than an unfortunate circumstance. That's a stigma I hope to break.
Imagine being faced with the following dilemma: Pay your electric bill or put food on the table for your family. What choice would you make? Luckily, I don't have to decide. Unfortunately, for millions of Americans, this choice, or something similar, is a reality.
Our lives are a series of choices and our decisions define us. They shape our future and dictate our disposition. As we grow and mature in life, we take on more responsibility and learn how difficult some judgement calls can be. Suddenly, our choices carry more weight. They have the power to significantly impact our relationships and opportunities.
It wasn't until I became a father that I realized what making tough decisions really meant because my choices didn't only affect me anymore. My choices impacted my children.
I have seen my parents transition from relying on the kindness of strangers to welcoming neighbors and friends to eat in their home, and I recognize what a blessing that is. Through their efforts to feed others and their love of community, I learned the importance of getting food to those in need and have since worked to inspire others to join me in the fight against hunger.
Access to nutritious food and clean water are basic human rights. As a father, a neighbor, and a Christian, I feel a strong responsibility to serve others and be a catalyst for the solutions to these significant problems.
Nearly $165 billion worth of food is thrown out in the US every year. All of this uneaten food could feed 25 million Americans. I have been blessed with a platform and with things to contribute, and on a food-centered holiday like Thanksgiving, it's important to shine a light on those who not only miss out on this gluttonous luxury, but who struggle daily to be nutritiously fulfilled.
In loving others like Christ loves us, it is important for me to contribute these things to the greater good of our communities so that one day parents won't have to make the tough decision between electricity or dinner for their children.
From volunteering at a local pantry, to donating food or funds, to advocating for policy change, we can all do our part. At the end of the day, it's about being a good human. The world is going through a lot right now and anything you can do to bring light to it — that's impactful.