Pictures scroll across screens depicting the plight of kids in third-world countries. Frail and lifeless, they speak of a need to provide food and proper nutrition so their bodies can be restored and they in turn, can grow to help make their country strong. Stories such as this are best found on Sunday mornings when the faithful are more attentive to human needs than business or legislative wrangling over budgets and bottom lines.
At the end of each segment on poverty and hunger, there is an appeal for the viewing audience to make a contribution. The appeal is made with a hungry child sitting on a parched surface or in the lap of the one doing the appeal. At the end of both the presentation of the human need and the visual effect of the request, there is a heightened awareness that poverty is indeed the monster that it is, and akin to poverty are kids and hunger.
Then a subsequent reality is masked by assumptions about what real poverty is. The depictions across screens replace the faces of poverty next door. If neighbors aren’t suffering the extremes of poverty as seen in foreign places, then their poverty couldn’t be that bad with public supports draining the national purse.
For you, the kids you know live in a house and sleep in a bed with no parched surfaces underfoot. This is an outer observation made visible to the outside, but inside their homes and little bodies over the summer, will be a deafening cry for food. There will be a real struggle for their families to provide good nutritious food for them until they go back to school.
Bothersome will be the myths associated with poverty and the picture a kid’s parent paints that are meant more to keep hope alive in them than to taint or mask their need for help. Parents live in poverty but sport outfits and transportation more befitting to someone with a “good’” job and “plenty” money making an association with kids and hunger to a next-door neighbor or a neighbor just down the street or road, a tough mental leap after watching the horrors of poverty played out in other countries on Sunday mornings.
Oftentimes than not, faces of American and community poverty does not appear as “wretched” in nature as third world poverty, thereby, it is overlooked as careless management of resources and an “if” that says, “if” they would stop doing this or the other, they would not be in the predicament they are in.
Wall Street has proven that you can be with money and still mismanage, just as you can be without it, and not know how to. Either way, Wall Street was bailed out, and what about families whose kids will go hungry over the summer. Will there be a community group or individual families willing to forego the drama that their parents will benefit- how dare they, and therefore, let the kids go hungry.
So, who will make a universal appeal for kids in your community to spend summer more rambunctious than before with flights of fury from house to yard and around burning calories gleaned from good nutritious food? There will be no cameras in their yard or vans parked outside capturing the tears they will shed because they are hungry. Their need may be masked behind candy or other sweets- sodas and sugary snacks. There will be no laps to sit on, and neither will there be an online appeal to meet their needs during the summer. So here’s the appeal. If there are single-family homes in your community, there will be a hungry child what will you do? Can you be counted on to do something? Can your church feed its hungry families over the summer? Will your missionary group be willing to start a summer hunger outreach? Is a hunger ministry possible? What about giving or volunteering to feed hungry kids?
You see food, and fun are singular expectations when you are a child, and hunger signals a community in trouble no matter where it is. Where there is hunger, you find children. And where there are kids, there are summer and breaks from school, which signals an escalation of hunger. Hunger is not just a lack of food for a handful of households; it is a community emergency that’s more prevalent during summer months when supplemental meals at school are no longer available.
If you live in a high risk for poverty community, and your neighbor next door have kids, they will face bouts of real hunger over the summer. Why? Because when summer is in and school is out, unless communities get involved, kids go to bed hungry.