There is a lot of hunger in young adult (YA) fiction.
This is largely due to the recent popularity of dystopian stories, where we’ve seen a surplus of characters learning to hunt and gather for survival after a natural disaster, or raiding abandoned grocery stores during a zombie apocalypse. One of the most memorable scenes for me of any book I’ve read in the past decade comes from The Hunger Games, when Katniss Everdeen is treated to a luxurious feast in the Capital and witnesses the socialites purging themselves of their meal, so that they can continue to eat more and more — all the while, Katniss’s family and neighbors are starving back home.
As a YA writer myself, I also tackled the subject of hunger in my science-fiction novel Winter, in which the wealthiest sectors of my futuristic society are spoiled with abundance and luxury, while those in the outer sectors live on sparse rations that barely meet their needs.
Dystopias. Zombie apocalypses. Futuristic societies.
The problem is … hunger isn’t fiction.
I’ll admit, I was well into my twenties before I realized this. I always had more than I needed as a child, and never witnessed hunger in my middle-class neighborhood (though in hindsight, I don’t doubt it was there). Still, the very idea of hunger seemed to me something from the Middle Ages, or a problem that pervaded distant developing countries. But certainly not here in America. Not in my city, my neighborhood, my own school.
When it was brought to my attention that, in fact, millions of children and young people do go hungry every day, I was shocked. In visiting dozens of schools over the past years, I’ve met countless teachers and librarians who keep a stash of granola bars in their desks for those students who may not have eaten breakfast that morning, or who make sure their after-school activities include plenty of snacks, so students can be sure to eat something before they go home.
Even having seen the statistics, I still struggle to grasp the reality of childhood hunger, especially when I, like those at Feeding America, do believe that hunger is a solvable problem. We are not living in a zombie apocalypse — there is, in fact, an abundance of food in our world. And I’m grateful for the people at Feeding America who are working to find solutions to bring that food to those who need it.
My heart breaks for the children and teens out there who don’t know where their next meal will come from, which is why I want to support Feeding America in any way I can, from making monetary donations, to helping raise awareness, to hosting food drives at my book events.
Because I would love to see the day when hunger finally becomes relegated to the world of fiction.
*Marissa Meyer is the New York Times-bestselling author of Heartless and The Lunar Chronicles. She lives in Tacoma, Washington and attended Pacific Lutheran University, where she received a degree in creative writing.Tags: Hunger Heroes , About Us