Hungry Holidays

What does it really mean to be hungry? 

For most of us, there is a point in the day where we have a craving for something edible and our bodies react to the pleasure that comes with putting something deliciously familiar in our mouths and enjoying the taste of heaven that it brings. When we have those cravings, we sometimes choose to express them by saying things like, “I’m hungry” or “I’m starving.” We use extreme adjectives to describe just how tempted we are to eat something. With language like that, one may even think we would be willing to eat anything because that’s just how serious we make it sound. Except right after that, most of us choose to say things like, “…but I don’t know what I want to eat” or “…but I don’t know what I have a taste for.” 

What a blessing it must be to choose when and where you want to eat. Many of us have no real understanding of what it really means to be hungry. Many of us have had no real experience of that uneasy or painful sensation that is brought on from a lack of food. Food insecurity has plagued America for years. However, because of Covid-19 and other contributing factors, food insecurity is at an all-time high. From a lack of employment to a lack of resource availability, food is not so easy to come by. Grocery stores are having to explain empty shelves, restaurants have had to remove certain items from their menu, and schools have been forced to alter their lunch menus daily because there isn’t enough food to feed each student. 

The reason that the young man takes everyone’s unwanted food home is because he knows there may be nothing else to eat later. The reason that the young lady asks for seconds and thirds is because she didn’t eat last night and hasn’t been able to focus on her lesson all morning.  

Now what? 

What do these same children who are already burdened by hunger do once the holidays roll in?  During the holidays, there is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. For most of us, the holidays are a time to be grateful and thankful for what you have. We get to spend time with family and friends. We exchange gifts. We listen to music and we relish in the festivities. It’s all such a good time, but there is no debate that the most popular factor of the holidays is the food. At the first sign of fall, people are thinking of Thanksgiving. No work. No school. But because many children rely on school meals as their primary source of food each day, this has had an earth-shattering effect on those students, and with no school comes no food. 

For every family cooking a beautiful turkey the day before Thanksgiving, there is another that is living on the streets without a stove to even cook a turkey in. For every family putting together an elaborate menu, there is another hoping to stack up on to-go plates from the houses of family members and friends. For every child who gets to eat all of their favorite desserts, there is another whose mother couldn’t afford to buy anything but the basics. 

Sadly, those weeks that children are out of school for Thanksgiving and Christmas are not rewarding to them all. Even with all of the food giveaways, there is still a small disparity amongst those who are not as stable as others. 

So, what do we do? 

We take action. Not only during the holidays, but year-round, we fight to end hunger insecurity. Northmen Dens Youth Pantries provide awareness, resources, and food plus toiletries, school supplies, and new clothing. Without spreading awareness, and taking action, many of our children in Emmet county are suffering will continue to suffer in silence.

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