This is the time of year we can cozy up with our loved ones and reflect on just how lucky we are. But sometimes with all the planning and obligations that go into Thanksgiving, we have to remind ourselves to take time to be grateful.
It’s important to set this example for our children and encourage them to be thankful for all that we have while teaching them to be empathetic for those without. Many kids aren’t as fortunate as yours, this year alone, 13 million children face hunger. Helping your family understand the reality of hunger – and how to help – is the perfect gateway to a more thankful and giving Thanksgiving.
Below are activities to help your family talk about hunger and focus on the many reasons you all have to be thankful this holiday season.
1. Read and reflect. To help introduce your kids to the hunger issue, tell them the story – which you can download here -- of a mother who struggles to make ends meet and put food on the table for her family. Included are questions to help spur a thoughtful conversation about what the family faces.
2. Picturing hunger. Once your child begins to grasp the struggles that come with hunger, ask them to draw a picture of what it feels like to be hungry. This will help them to put it in terms they can relate to and build empathy for those who face hunger. A helpful prompt can be found in the Family Action Plan.
3. Get reading! Stories are a great way for children to understand the complex reality of the world we live in. There are great books out there that deal specifically with hunger and help exercise kids’ empathy muscles. Read these stories out loud to spur thoughtful conversation on what kids like them might be facing. Titles include:
a. Maddi’s Fridge by Lois Brandt
b. One Potato, Two Potato by Cynthia DeFelice
c. Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan
4. Encourage Gratitude. Discuss with your child what you are grateful for and encourage them to share what they are thankful for as well. Help your child to understand that not all families have the things that he or she may take for granted. Using magazines, catalogs, and other sources create a collage reflecting what you discuss. Display the collage on your fridge or share it in your social channels to remind others to be thankful this holiday season.
5. Volunteer. Another way to get children involved in the fight against hunger is to find family-friendly volunteer opportunities at your local food bank. The kids will have fun helping out during this high-need season while giving back during the holidays. Contact your local food bank for information on how to volunteer with kids.
For more ideas on how to help your family feel thankful during the holiday season, download our Family Action Plan and share your activities on social media using @FeedingAmerica. Together we can make this the season to end hunger!