Abbey Riesset reflects on the issue of hunger, how she’s working to address it, and what she thinks can be done to combat it.
Almost 1 billion people around the globe go to bed hungry every night, 200 million of which are children, as Stop Hunger Now shares. When most people hear the word “Hunger”, they think of starvation and one’s body consuming itself. But the term hunger encompasses much more.
Hunger is essentially the result of food insecurity- the lack of access to enough food to satisfy the basic need. Food insecurity is a major issue within the U.S. and often contributes to the high obesity rates. Most of the time, people who deal with food insecurity rely on food pantries and food stamps. It is extremely difficult to find healthy nutritious options from these resources. It is also cheaper to buy unhealthy snacks to help reduce the physical feeling of hunger. A Place At The Table is an excellent film that discusses this issue further (and it’s on Netflix!).
As the Director of Campus Kitchen at Elon, I’ve had the opportunity to organize the annual Stop Hunger Now event on campus. Stop Hunger Now is a nonprofit organization based out of Raleigh that provides international aid relief in an effort to end hunger. They host meal packaging events throughout communities around the nation and educate people about Hunger. Each meal packaged can feed up to six people or one family, and the meals get distributed throughout orphanages and schools. I love being a part of this event because it helps put Hunger into perspective. If Stop Hunger Now used machines to package the meals, they would be able to produce a greater number, but then the human element of people helping people would be lost. It is this human element that spreads awareness and leads to action.
In my opinion the way to end hunger is through education. I personally believe every elementary school around the nation should have a community garden. It is important to teach children at a young age how to grow their own fruits and vegetables. Educating children about nutrition and allowing them to eat the food they grow is just as important as being physically active. I believe community gardening in schools will give children a sense of pride and children will come to love eating healthy. I also think parks should have community gardens as well. The produce grown can be distributed to food pantries and reach those experiencing food insecurity.
A call to action for all of us… There are a lot of social issues throughout the globe which need our attention. At times, I feel overwhelmed by all of them. I desire to be a part of the change that needs to happen in order to improve education, eliminate homelessness, provide health care to all, end hunger, stop human trafficking, etc. I have come to the realization it’s impossible for one person to tackle all of these issues. Thus, I have devoted my time and energy to two specific social issues which are very important to me: hunger and homelessness. I chose these issues because food and shelter are the basic necessities of life. It is hard for me to image not knowing where my next meal is coming from or worrying about where I can find shelter for a night.
I encourage everyone reading this blog, if you haven’t already done so, to pick a social issue and become passionate about it. Devote your life to that issue(s) by spreading awareness and making an impact on those affected by it. In my opinion, Mother Teresa said it best, “I never look at the masses as my responsibility. I look at the individual. I can love only one person at a time. I can feed only one person at a time. Just one, one, one.”