Child hunger breaks my heart

05:11, Oct 12 2012

The Campbell Live piece about decile one kids not eating lunch broke my heart.

My mother founded a whole-foods cooking school and has written several books on food and health, and my sister and I reaped the benefits of her nutritional passion.

Our home always had good, healthy food on tap.

It is so easy to forget what an incredible privilege it is not to have to worry about the next meal.

But when we are reminded, we are moved, deeply.


Last week, Campbell Live's Lunchbox Day promotion raised over half a million dollars to support the excellent work being done by KidsCan.

It's a tremendous effort, and well worthy of praise - and the work is not yet done.

KidsCan support 46,000 kids across the country; over 270,000 Kiwi children live in poverty.

Every dollar raised by programmes like these matters; every contribution is valuable. And our participation can go beyond money. The problem of hunger includes a lack of food and funds - and also an inefficient distribution system.

The volume of good, edible, nutritious food that goes to waste will either make you cry or get you excited about the opportunity we have to tackle this issue.

Because, oh, are there some beautiful ways to tackle it.

At TEDxEQChCh, we learned about the amazing work being done by Ashburton's Jade Temepara, whose Hand Over A Hundy organisation sponsors and supports young families to grow their own vegetable gardens.

The challenge to them is to grow enough excess food to recoup the $100 they're given at the beginning of the year and hand it on to the next family. You can watch Jade's talk here.

My friend Sari just spent her holiday picking pears with the Portland Fruit Tree Project: a grass-roots, non-profit organization that brings neighbours together to share in the harvest and care of urban fruit trees.

In their words, "We organize people to gather fruit before it falls, and make it available to those who need it most.

"We register fruit and nut trees throughout the city, bring people together to harvest and distribute thousands of pounds of fresh fruit each year, and teach tree care and food preservation in hands-on workshops."

And in Todmorden in the UK, Pam Warhurst is leading the charge for edible landscapes.

Why, she asks, would the city council spend even a dollar on prickly plants in public spaces? Pam and her volunteer crew are planting herbs and vegetables that are free to anyone.

They include signage that helps people new to gardening understand when to pick and how to consume, and they're making huge strides towards integrating the food supply into the civic space.

The problem of child hunger is not only a money problem - though money plays a key role - and it's not only a government problem - though government has an inescapable responsibility to its citizens.

It is a human problem, a resource allocation problem, a problem that can be tackled creatively and with the best kind of community spirit. Groups like KidsCan, Hand Over A Hundy, and others worldwide are doing just that.

Thanks for being awesome.

The Press