Open your cabinet. What do you see? In mine there are cans of soup, packages of spaghetti and jars of sauce. I spy a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and two or three cans of tuna. I have baked beans, corn and green beans. A backup bottle of ketchup is hidden in the corner. I even see canned pumpkin and evaporated milk from some good intention that never quite made it to the pie stage. I can say that my cupboard has enough in it to make several good meals if I couldn’t get the store for a week. I also have cookies and chips, raisins and cashews…snacks for after school.
I take that for granted.
I never think about hunger.
My children are always hungry because they are growing boys but they never face ‘hunger’.
The Backpack Program helps those kids who face “a different kind of hungry.”
L coordinates the weekend backpack food distribution for her school. It was Friday. She called several new students into her office to tell them they had been “chosen to participate in a nutrition program.” It was good news. Each week they would receive a backpack of nutritious food to take home. The food was intended for them to eat. Then they were welcome to stop back by the office and tell her how they felt and how tasty it was. There was only one rule. L had found that these kids were so hungry they would eat all the food in the backpack while still on the Friday bus. The bus drivers were cleaning up numerous wrappers. So each kid had to agree to pick up his or her own trash.
L looked across the faces of the new participants. “S” had a solemn but pleasant look…his eyes a bit wet with emotion. He slowly raised his hand.
“Why did you pick us for this ‘nutrition program’?”
L was careful. She didn’t want to convey anything that would embarrass the children. Her answer was perfect.
“Well – I see you at lunch and I think you are sometimes still hungry. And sometimes your teacher tells us that you are hungry on Monday mornings. So – you must be growing a lot and your body needs more food.”
His face exploded into a smile. He was relieved that L obviously didn’t know he was that “different kind of hungry”. When he looked in her eyes he didn’t see someone who knew he was poor. She saw a growing boy who just needed more food! He exclaimed,
“You got that right! I’m ALWAYS hungry!”
And suddenly L’s eyes were wet with emotion.