Summer is the season to enjoy endless fun in the sun with sunscreen, flip flops, and cold beverages. But if you’re one of the 15 million children living in food-insecure households, surviving summer means finding a way to not go hungry. School is often the most reliable place where kids can get a meal. With the end of the school year approaching, the fight against childhood hunger becomes especially urgent.
What can a kid do to fight hunger? That was a question I asked myself when I was 7 years old. I saw a man on a street corner holding a sign that read, "NEED A MEAL." It made me realize that I needed to do something about it. But what could I do? Well, it turns out a kid can do a lot.
A food pantry volunteer since childhood in rural Iowa, Maria Rose Belding grew frustrated at the uneven nature of food donations. One day when Belding was 15, a well-intentioned donor gave her local food pantry a year’s worth of macaroni and cheese. “They didn’t ask us if we needed it,” she said. “But they gave us 5 tons of it.” After several months, clients at the food pantry were begging for something else, and after a year, the boxes were expiring. Belding was tasked with lugging the excess out in the snow to the dumpster. “As I did, I saw people outside, waiting in the cold for hours before we opened because they needed food so badly,” says Belding. “I thought, there has to be a better way.”