The statistics on child hunger in the U.S. continue to exist — that in itself is a problem. More than 1 in 5 children in the U.S. are at risk of hunger; among African-American and Latino children, this statistic jumps to 1 in 4. These statistics are real children that are suffering from real problems, and they need real solutions.
FOR BETTER NOT WORSE (FBNW) is a Los Angeles based apparel company that is making a positive impact on child food insecurity. For each item that FBNW sells, we give a bag of groceries to a child in need in the U.S., which we personally distribute during our monthly at FBNW Food Drop events. The Food Drops allow us to meet and get to know the children and families that we directly impact.
The children that show up for the FBNW Food Drops are generally younger and unaware that their families are struggling to feed them. They run around playfully with their bags of groceries while our team chats with their parents to gain a better understanding of their current situation, and how we as a company can do more to help. The stories range from heartbreaking to full-on tear inducing.
We once met a family of 13 who for the last few months were living in a van. The family that consisted of three teens, three tweens, and five elementary-age children were facing hard times to say the least. Their father told us that they were struggling to make ends meet, rent was not being paid, and eventually the family was evicted from their apartment. Living in their van and not paying rent allowed them to put more money towards food. But he was worried that the food was not enough, and that he was putting his family’s health at risk by feeding them cheap fast food, which was all they could afford.
Separately, a single mother of four children shared with us that the stress of figuring out where her children’s next meals would come from was taking a toll on her personal health. Because of her limited ability to speak English, she found it difficult to discover all the programs that are in place to help her family. She worried that one day she may have a heart attack or stroke from stress and said, “What will happen to my children?”
The most heartbreaking of all is hearing stories of parents crying at night after sending their children to bed hungry. These parents feel ashamed, hopeless and defeated. Sadly, it was a story we heard many times.
Children from food insecure households are at a higher risk of developing health conditions ranging from hypertension, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses that stick throughout adulthood. Beyond providing the nutrients necessary for developing bodies, having access to food will increase a child’s likelihood of staying in school. Three out of four teachers say their students regularly show up to school hungry. These children find it hard to focus in class, which results in poor grades and falling behind. The further they fall behind, the more difficulties will arise for them in social situations. Being “hangry” is just one emotion that these children experience; sad, embarrassed, worried, and confused are more debilitating emotions that children from food insecure households experience.
Luckily there are millions of people who care about child hunger and are doing something about it. FBNW is doing its part as a young company to make an impact. On average, we feed 200-300 children at our monthly FBNW Food Drops, with a goal to feed thousands of children every week across the U.S.
Throughout September — Hunger Action Month — FBNW will be volunteering to lend our support to help raise awareness to the issue. We held our September FBNW Food Drop with our partners at the Boys & Girls Club Pasadena which also coincided with our first annual #DayWithoutFood. We went without food for 24 hours on September 1st and urged others to join us to help raise awareness about the hunger issue in the U.S. In exchange for their efforts, we will be giving a bag of groceries to a child in need for each person who participated in our #DayWithoutFood.
We encourage everyone to participate in Hunger Action Month in your own way. Volunteer, spread the word during September and beyond in hopes that together, we can one day put child hunger statistics to bed.
Fiona Chan holds the position of Difference Maker/Marketing at For Better Not Worse.