Let’s stop calling food poison. I understand that 75% of processed foods are packed with GMOs and many other things feared bad for us. However, I also understand 1 in 5 children do not know where they will get their next meal. After working at a food pantry for the past 2 years, I am have learned a lot. In fact, I am embarrassed in my own social media terminology around food. I have referred to food as toxic and inferior. I was wrong and in some ways unethical.
Don’t get me wrong, I do believe we need to fight for labeling rights and I do want to feed my children the most nourishing foods. I was a cloth-diapering mother who made her own baby wipes and baby food. I still clean with baking soda and buy from a local farm. I make and have made my decisions to minimize the chemical exposure to my children but I also have that privilege.
I do not have the right to bash another mother’s food choices. In doing so, I unintentionally make her feel bad. All parents want the same- healthy and happy children. Unfortunately, there are many parents who are forced to choose between medication, electricity, transportation, and clothing over food. Their number one concern is getting any food on the table.
It wasn’t until I became the president of the Al Beech West Side Food Pantry, my eyes opened up. I stopped. I took time and observed the world around me. This is what I see weekly:
- I see a harsh world where children are not thriving in school because they are too hungry to think.
- I see a homeless mother with a child on her hip running from an abusive relationship. She is not cloth diapering. In fact, she is most likely using the same disposable diaper over and over again because diapers are too expensive.
- I see an embarrassed father asking for an emergency supply of food. He lost his job and could not go home empty handed to his children after an unsuccessful day of job hunting. His wife does not get the choice to feed her children organic food. A good day is feeding their children yogurt with blue dye.
- I see a teenage mother with a 2 year old who has been in and out of kinship care. As a freshman in high school, she cannot identify most fresh produce and believes Lunchables are gourmet.
- I see a grandmother who has full custody rights of her 3 grandchildren. She is not concerned if the canned vegetables are lined with BPA plastic or if the canned tuna is high in mercury. She just wants food to feed her children.
- I see food bashing and shaming in social media and it needs to stop. Parents of all economic classes are impacted and we can teach behavior change and fight for political action in large corporations using better words and not scare tactics.
Childhood Hunger Facts According to No Kid Hungry:
- 1 in 5 children do not know where there next meal is coming from which is 1 in 4 locally for Northeastern, Pa.
- 62% of American teachers have students who are hungry because they are not getting enough to eat at home.
- A hungry child will become sick more often and miss school.
- A child that does not do well in school is less likely to graduate from high school and go on to college, which will have a negative impact on their economic future.