What is childhood hunger and what does it look like? Childhood hunger is a big problem in all of our communities. More than 16 million kids in America live in households that struggle to put food on the table. That's one in five kids who are at risk of being hungry. A hungry child might look like you or me, but he might not focus as well in school, he might get sick more often, and have trouble paying attention in class.
When I was 8 years old, the summer after first grade, I saw a man on a street corner holding a sign that said: NEED A MEAL. It made me sad inside to know that there are so many hungry people in this country and I decided to get involved in the fight against hunger in my community. Over the last couple of years I have met a lot of great people who donate their time to help those who are hungry, but the ones I admire the most are the kids who see a need and decide to become part of the solution.
When I first decided to get involved, I was worried that the food bank wouldn't be interested in my help because of my age. Instead of telling me I was too young and to come back later when I was older, they actually listened to my big ideas and embraced them. My friends at the food bank became some of my biggest fans and supporters, teaching me about the hungry in my area and helping me find ways that I could help.
Their support inspired me to find more volunteers to help address hunger, and my group, FROGS, has now recruited hundreds of kids to help fight hunger at our events. One of my favorite things to tell people is: “No matter how tall or small you are, you can make a BIG difference!” Sometimes when I share this with people, they think I mean physical size, but really what I mean is that anyone of any age, background or skill level, can step up and get involved in making a difference. All you need is the willingness to give of yourself and your time to make a mark on something that matters to you.
So, what am I doing to help end child hunger? I partnered with generationOn to participate in the What Will You Bring to the Table? initiative. It’s a call to action for youth from across the country to address childhood hunger by gathering around tables to complete service projects that will raise awareness and help to end child hunger in the United States. My group, FROGs, has a motto: Having Fun while Helping Others. And that's exactly what we brought to the table…FUN!
FROGs hosted an event to raise money and awareness for the hungry in our community. Because we were bringing fun to the table, we decided to host an event centered around games. We called it “Game Over! for Childhood Hunger.” We recruited businesses to donate their services and supplies, and invited elementary school age kids from all across our city to participate. We had video games, laser tag, memory games using child hunger facts and a letter-writing station where kids could write letters to government officials and let them know about the millions of kids who are hungry. I hope these letters will make our politicians care more about effects of hunger on kids and how much it impacts a child's development.
I’m proud that my project, along with the projects of other kids and teens, helped generationOn raise over 1.5 million meals that will help fight back against child hunger. Together, we did an awesome job!
My work on hunger isn’t done and together, I think that we can do even more. So, what can YOU bring to the table to help end child hunger in your community? You can:
- donate, and
- spread awareness.
Chances are you’ll have fun while helping others! Host your own game event, a kickball tournament, or a dodge ball throw-down or something else that you love. For more project ideas and resources, go to http://www.whatwillyoubringtothetable.org/ and remember: you are never too young to make your mark on hunger.
About Will Lourcey:
Will Lourcey, founder of the nonprofit Friends Reaching Our Goals Together (FROGs), is a fourth grader at Tanglewood Elementary in Fort Worth, Texas. He enjoys writing, traveling and fighting hunger. Will was recognized as a 2012 Hasbro Community Action Hero, an award given to outstanding young service leaders, presented by Hasbro in partnership with generationOn, the global youth service enterprise of Points of Light. Will was also honored by President Obama following his designation as a Hasbro Community Action Hero, for his unquestionable dedication to making a positive impact on his community and the world through community service. Additionally, Will’s inspiring work led him to be named a CNN Young Wonder in December 2012, as part of the annual CNN Heroes awards.