Disclosure: This is my second post for World Food Program USA. My first was n December 2012 for the Fill the Cup program. I truly believe in what they're doing for kids and families around the world, and it is my privilege to lend my words to a cause that should be supported, in my opinion, by anyone anywhere. No child should ever go hungry.
I complain about packing my lunch all the time. All. The. Time.
I know that I'm not alone in this. Every year, when school starts again, I read parents on Twitter and Facebook and in my in-person life complaining about the end of summer and the start of another year of lunch-packing for at least one small person who heads out the door to school every day.
Also? I, shamefully, waste a lot of food. I buy produce and it spoils because I don't cook it or eat it in time. I've even, on some occasions, brought my lunch and let it sit because a colleague proposed going out to lunch at the last minute, and hey, I'm not eight shades of crazy, just a few. When it comes down to the social aspect of lunch, I'm an easy convert. I would always rather pop over to the deli with someone whose company I enjoy than sit in my office eating my cold chicken from last night. Besides, the deli I'm talking about has these reuben sandwiches that make my life better, and a pickle bar and, well, you know where this is headed, I'm sure.
It's obvious what a stupid problem this is, right? It's a problem that's not even a problem at all, just an irritation that springs straight up out of privilege with a great big side of lazy. The truth is that I'm lucky enough to have access to the food I've got in my fridge and my cabinets. I'm lucky enough that my problem is irritation at "having" to pack a lunch, and not a worry that when I go into my kitchen, there won't be anything there to take with me to the job I'm also lucky to have. I'm lucky to be able to be the kind of jerk who buys fresh food and wastes it.
This is all of the stuff that I've been thinking about since I learned about World Food Program USA's Lunch Money Challenge, a project that encourages bringing lunch to work this week and donating those savings to the World Food Program's School Lunch program.
This is on my mind when I read about kids in places like Honduras, Niger, and Kenya, kids who often don't have anything to take with them when they go to school, and go to schools where the ability to provide lunch for the students is a challenge, too.
This is why I did manage to bring my lunch this week, the three days of each week that I'm actually in an office and not working from home. (Thursday and Friday technically don't count, because I'm generally eating lunch at home, if not bringing it anyhere else. I am going to try not to eat out this week, even if someone says they want to go somewhere really good and they want me to join them.) (And that, my friends, is more privilege. I can clearly see the patterns here.)
What are your lunch plans this week? If you'd like to participate in the program, it's actually pretty easy.
Step 1: go here.
Step 2: Select Honduras, niger or Kenya
Step 3: Select “Become a Fundraiser” and create your fundraising page
Step 4: Spread the word and reach out to family and friends through email, Facebook and Twitter Hashtag: #feedadream WFP USA Twitter: @WFPUSA
If you're like me and you like specifics, you should know that this program has immediate impact on people's lives. It changed the life of Fatuma Mohammed, whom I was lucky enough to speak with on the phone last week.
Fatuma has been a staffer in Kenya at the World Food Program since 2005, working to ensure accountability and transparency in food distributions, supervising other staff and coordinating WFP activities with partner organizations. Fatuma also benefited from the School Lunch Program from the time she was seven years old, when she and her siblings began receiving porridge at school daily. Now she is a parent, and works to help bring the same nourishment to other children.
It changed the life of Olympic silver medalist Paul Tergat, who was able to have lunch at school as a young boy because of it, and who now travels the worlad as a WFP ambassador to help others get the same essential support. Here's what he told Forbes:
Hunger is a solvable problem, and school meal programs are a solution proven to work. Every year, WFP provides school meals to 22 million children in 60 countries. But that covers only a fraction of the need. There are 66 million primary-school children across the globe, including 23 million in Africa alone, who come to school hungry each day.
There are loads more stories on the World Food Program's really informatve Facebook page, so I recommend that you go there for more details about World Food Day and how you can help support the School Lunch Program.