Unilever Project Sunlight Launches “Share A Meal To Help Turn The Tables On Child Hunger in America” Program
When I was growing up in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, I often heard adults utter the expression, “Donde come uno, comen dos,” which loosely translates to “Where one eats, two can eat.” It was their way of extolling the virtues of sharing — particularly in regards to food since, in Latino cultures, meals are often considered communal experiences that unite families, friends, and neighbors. Within this context, the dinner table is the metaphorical glue that holds communities together.
Sadly, perhaps as a result of the difficult financial times, most people these days (regardless of where they reside) seem to have adopted a cold-hearted, what’s-mine-is-mine mindset that they justify as being part of some self-preservation strategy. And yet it’s during these difficult times that a sense of solidarity is imperative. There’s no reason why there shouldn’t be an open dialogue about lingering joblessness, about rising food costs and sky-high rents, about the lack of flexible jobs that allow full-time mothers to care for their children while earning a living, and about the economic challenges that we all face on a daily basis. There should be no stigma attached to speaking about these issues. And yet there is. Because financial matters are often a taboo subject and because so many people like to pretend that they’re better off than they really are (the whole “fake it ’til you make it” attitude), we oftentimes don’t realize how pervasive certain issues are — among them hunger. You may not even imagine it, but there’s a strong possibility that one of your co-workers, neighbors, friends, or distant family members is facing such financial hardship that he or she is having difficulty putting food on the table.
To educate people on these issues, Unilever Project Sunlight, an initiative focused on encouraging people to ensure a brighter future for our children through small gestures that encompass the principles of sustainable living and community activism, collaborated with award-winning filmmaker Patrick Creadon to create a four-minute documentary, “Going to Bed Hungry: The Changing Face of Child Hunger” (which you can see above).
When you watch the video, you’ll learn some truly harrowing statistics — among them that one in five children right here in the United States lives in a “food insecure” household, a term used to categorize any abode in which there’s no certainty regarding where the next meal will come from or when it will take place. But beyond statistics, you’ll be able to put human faces to this heart-wrenching cause. You’ll meet Food Bank client Nikol, a loving mother of two children who was happily married to a U.S. Navy Seal and enjoyed a seemingly idyllic existence (the “white picket fence” scenario, if you will) — that is, until her husband passed away suddenly due to a heart attack and she found herself struggling to make ends meet, having to stand on food lines. When standing on that line, Nikol realized that many of the people there were just like her: folks who had suddenly lost a job, who were ill and unable to work, who lost a loved one who was also the main financial caretaker within the family unit, and so forth.
Now, Nikol makes a point to share a meal with friends and neighbors who are facing similar troubles — among them John, another Food Bank client who is interviewed in the documentary and who speaks candidly about the challenges of feeding his two young daughters. They pitch in to buy groceries or share the vegetables and fruits obtained from the food pantry and bring their families together for a communal meal. By doing so, they ensure that their children always have a meal and that, moreover, they have a support network and a sense of security.
Sharing a meal, then, is tantamount to building a stronger community and represents one way in which to end child hunger.
This video is one element of the campaign launched by Unilever Project Sunlight and Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger relief organization. The goal: to launch a nationwide initiative to raise awareness for this issue and goes one step further by rallying friends and families to “Share A Meal” themselves.
Want to do your part to help end child hunger? The first step is to talk about the issue, which you can do by watching the documentary above and sharing it with your friends, co-workers, and family members, as well as with all your social media pals. Next, you can visit www.ProjectSunlight.us and discover all the ways in which you can make a difference: whether it’s organizing a community pot luck, volunteering at a soup kitchen, or hosting a food drive online.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be doing my own part to end child hunger by participating in the Unilever Project Sunlight “Share A Meal” initiative and completing one of the suggested activities listed at ProjectSunlight.us. And, of course, I’ll document the whole experience here!
For now, please watch the video, share it, make it a subject of conversation — that alone will do so much to help shed light on this cause!