The Child Hunger Corps is a national service program designed to increase the capacity and capability of food banks to execute programs targeted towards the alleviation of child hunger. The objective of the program is to increase the number of nutritious snacks and meals served to children in need in local communities across the country. The Child Hunger Corps initiative is sponsored by the ConAgra Foods Foundation.
In August 2012, the third cohort of nine new Corps members were placed at Feeding America member food banks, bringing the current total to 15 Child Hunger Corps members working at food banks across the country. This post is by third cohort member Esther Brown, Child Hunger Corps member at East Texas Food Bank.
Had someone told me two years ago that kids would clap and cheer over a banana and bunch of grapes, I probably would not have believed them. However, the kids at our afterschool programs are thrilled to receive fresh produce.
The first time I noticed it was when I brought a box of bananas and some grapes to a site visit. The kids said things like " We get a banana AND some grapes?!", " This is the best day ever!" and " Can I please take one home to my mom? She really loves bananas." It shocked me that they were so excited about the fruit. I thought that perhaps I had just caught this group off guard and that the children at some of our other sites wouldn't be so thrilled. But with each visit, no matter where the site was located, the kids would get so excited to see the fresh fruit.
I have to say that seeing their eyes light up at the site of fresh strawberries makes me happy and brokenhearted at the same time. I personally love fresh fruit, and I buy it at the store like I once assumed that every one else did. The reality, however, is that produce is expensive and that many families have to cut costs where possible, and this often means less fresh fruits and vegetables.
This learning experience is helping to shape the menus that we create and the types of food items that we serve to the kids. It is also changing my mind about attitudes that kids have about fruits and vegetables.
The work we do is full of learning experiences. Allow these experiences to teach you and to shape the decisions that you make about feeding those in your community. You won't be disappointed.
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