I attended my first Sacramento Press Club luncheon on Thursday, August 23. The room teemed with local reporters, PR professionals and fans of the Dude. Our feature speaker, Jeff Bridges, came prepared to speak about child hunger. Mr. Bridges serves as spokesperson for No Kid Hungry, a national campaign run by Share Our Strength, a nonprofit addressing the problems of hunger and poverty in the United States and around the globe. Share Our Strength launched No Kid Hungry in 2010, but Mr. Bridges has been involved in addressing childhood hunger for 30 years. He spends time talking to governors around the country about ways they can help feel children living in their state, such as offering a successful program known as Breakfast After the Bell. By feeding all children at school, it removes stigma of a subsided meal when you don’t have food at home, helps more children arrive on time and miss less school days and most importantly allows them to focus better in the classroom when they brains are nourished. Offering food instead of discipline for fidgety elementary school students: what a wonderful idea.
Other guests on the panel included CA Director Kathy Saile from No Kid Hungry, school nutrition consultant Zetta Reicker from Oakland, Pastor Karen Abrego (representing Senator Richard Pan’s office) and moderator Edie Lambert of KCRA.
The group discussed staggering hunger statistics for around the country (1 in 6 children in the US is food insecure) and the terrible statewide numbers (1 in 5 in CA). But did you know in Sacramento, it’s even worse? 1 in 4 children living in Sacramento County do not know where their next healthy meal is coming from.
Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services works to address this huge problem every day. How does this occur in one of the wealthiest states in the country that produce’s most of the nation’s food? But more importantly, what can YOU and I do about it? Become educated, help break down the stigma, stay up to speed on policy issues and connect with your representatives.
At the luncheon, Edie Lambert announced the state would be forming a Child Hunger Caucus. With bipartisan support and focused resources, this issue can be better addressed. The panel shared ideas for student-centered solutions, not ideas from a parent, teacher or administrator level. Karen Abrego shared positive results of a USDA vending machine offered at a local high school, where students could use a code to retrieve healthy options instead of going without during lunch.
If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, consider watching A Place at the Table, Jeff Bridges’ 2012 documentary that challenges our government to do something.
On a local level, I invite you to become involved as an advocate. Bring important issues and resources such as CalFoods and CalFresh to your elected officials. Volunteer your time at a local food bank or feeding pantry. Follow Jeff’s lead and exercise your own political will.
Kelly Siefkin, VP of Communications & Marketing
Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services