If you’re a kid suffering from hunger, you can’t get much done. You’re probably lacking energy, maybe feeling a little woozy, and having a hard time thinking about anything else besides food. Just ask Academy Award nominated actress Viola Davis, who suffered from hunger as a child while growing up in “abject poverty” in Rhode Island: “I didn’t have any energy in school. From 8:00 am to about 1:45 pm the only thing I remember is fighting to stay awake,” she says. “I fell asleep during tests. I fell asleep during my SATs.”
If you think cases like Viola Davis are rare, you’re not even close. One in 5 children in America live in homes without consistent access to food. Three out of 5 public K-8 teachers in America say they regularly see students who come to school hungry. And food actually makes a measurable difference in a student’s day: Students who start the day with a healthy breakfast score, on average, 17.5 percent higher on standardized math tests.
Davis spoke with us recently at an event promoting Hunger Is, a new joint charitable program of the Safeway Foundation and the Entertainment Industry Foundation that is designed to raise awareness and funds to fight childhood hunger in the United States. The year-round campaign encourages individuals and communities to get involved in solving this widespread problem that too often goes unnoticed. Funds raised through the initiative will go toward programs focused on eradicating childhood hunger and improving health-related outcomes.
“This is not a hot-button topic; this is food. We’re talking about something so basic,” says Davis. “If a kid is hungry, you give him food. Trust me; one meal a day is not enough.”
On the Hunger Is website you can find more information, sign up to receive regular updates, donate to the cause, spread the word, and enter your zip code to find volunteer opportunities near you. (We searched our zip code on the web site and learned about three great volunteering opportunities right near our house – it’s almost too easy NOT to do.)
“My message to children who are hungry? ‘Help is on the way,'” says Davis.
Many thanks to The Moms for leading the #HungerIsMamarazzi charge and for organizing the event at Riviera 31 at the Sofitel Beverly Hills along with the Entertainment Industry Foundation and the Safeway Foundation. We did not receive compensation for covering this event. All opinions expressed are our own.