Sunday, September 21, 2014

Hunger Action Month: 11 Simple Ways Kids Can Get Involved

Moms Fighting Hunger Blog Hop 2014 -- Kids and Families Making a Difference During Hunger Action Month

Hunger is an issue I have cared about for many years. Two years ago, I became more active with No Kid Hungry and joined together with other moms to create Moms Fighting Hunger. For Hunger Action Month, I've compiled this list of 11 Simple Ways Kids Can Get Involved During Hunger Action Month, which draw heavily from my own personal experience with my children over the last two years as well as the examples of many of the other inspiring mothers that are a part of Moms Fighting Hunger. 

1. Collect Spare Change - Last year during Hunger Action Month, my sons and I created a coffee can for change. We literally carried a coffee can around all month to put our spare change in and found that others added to it as well. In the end, we raised nearly $45 -- and a few friends and family members matched our donation. The boys were so proud to see that their effort to collect change resulted in so much money (nearly $200) being donated to No Kid Hungry.

2. Donate to your Local Food Pantry - We do this often and try to find ways to make it fun. Our Very Hungry Caterpillar Virtual Food Drive was lots of fun and inspired others as well. JDaniel4's Mom also created a Hunt for Hunger for her son, and the Pleasantest Thing and her son got involved with her food pantry's Breakfast in a Bag program. To find a food pantry in your area, look here.

3. Visit your Local Food Pantry or Volunteer - When you make your donation, plan to take some time to learn about the food pantry. Visiting a food pantry allows children to learn more about hunger. 52 Brand New shared about her children volunteering at a food pantry, which is a great way to get kids involved. 

4. Garden! - Katie's Krops is an organization focused on encouraging children to garden to end hunger as they share the produce they grow with others. We've just started a small container garden, but have already shared our tomatoes with neighbors that we know are in need.  

5. Eat a Meal with Gratitude - Using  your own meal  times to learn about hunger and focus on gratitude for the food you have is an important way to help children understand hunger. This month you can also Dine Out for No Kid Hungry as a family and Pennies of Time shared a powerful Hunger Dinner her family held to truly understand hunger. Some families also decide to take the Snap Challenge for a week or for the entire month during Hunger Action Month. Conveying Awareness shared her experience taking the Snap Challenge. 

6. Support a Neighbor in Need - This can be fun and simple. You can make healthy muffins or make an extra batch of soup. It's easy, but also so greatly appreciated. We've given bagels and produce to a homeless man in our community, have made a meal for an elderly neighbor and have taken meals to families that have a member battling cancer. 

7. Organize a Food Drive -  Depending on the age of your children, the parents might be doing most of the organizing, but the children can definitely help spread the word and learn a lot in the process. Coffee Cups and Crayons held a fun Hunger Heroes Food Drive Play Date.

8. Host a Bake Sale - No Kid Hungry has lots of resources to help you get involved through a bake sale. 

9. Volunteer at a Dinner for Those in Need - We've volunteered at a local Thanksgiving Dinner for families in need and discovered that even young children can help out in this way. Now is a great time to research an upcoming holiday dinner and sign up to be involved. 

10. Read! - Reading books that help children understand hunger is important -- and can lead them to want to be involved to help those that are hungry. Pennies of Time shares tips for reading books and discussing hunger. Childhood Beckons created a fun Feeding with Reading Food Driveand Let's Lasso the Moon has a great list of books about hunger

11. Learn about Hunger/Talk About It - Similar to reading books, talking about hunger and learning about hunger is another important way to get kids involved as it raises their awareness about hunger and their empathy for others. If you might feel intimidated by this idea, Moments a Day has 5 Activities for Teaching Preschoolers about Hunger, JDaniel4's Mom shared about how she discussed hunger with her young son and Kid World Citizen shared lessons for teaching kids about hunger.

If your children have gotten involved around the issue of hunger, please tell us all about it -- and if you've written a blog post about it, link it up to our Moms Fighting Hunger Blog Hop. We'd also love for you to engage with us about ending hunger and getting children and families involved on the Moms Fighting Hunger Facebook page -- and we've got many more resources collected on the Moms Fighting Hunger Pinterest Board.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Kids in the Kitchen with The Weekly Kid's Co-Op

Featuring Our Picture Book of the Day: Stone Soup

My boys loved reading Stone Soup by Jon J. Muth, and I loved the message of the book as it highlights the value of coming together as a community and of every person giving what they can. Each member of the village contributes to the soup pot and in the end the whole community has a feast. Through giving, everyone has more than they would have had on their own. It is a message I seek to instill in my children regularly and to live in my own life and professional work. 

The book also, of course, got the boys excited about making soup with me, so we made our own variety of "stone soup" using what we happened to have -- just as the villagers did in the book. We started with 3 "stones" (just as in the book). Our stones were garlic cloves.
Then we added onions, a must according to Wild Thing, because of the onions in the book, and then diced up some veggie Italian sausages we had. Wild Thing enjoyed adding ingredients to the pot, but mainly wanted to take photos of the soup-making process this time, rather than me taking photos of him. He did a great job with the photos. 

Caterpillar (3) helped me add in some chicken broth, broccoli and snow peas (again things we just happened to have) and some salt and pepper. Wild Thing didn't capture any pictures of Caterpillar helping as Caterpillar is very camera shy these days, so we mainly got shots of him making a run for it -- away from the camera...Basically, Caterpillar would add ingredients then make a break for it as Wild Thing helped stir the soup and then take photos. 

Ultimately, the stone soup turned out really well. My husband and I both really liked it. The boys are still not sold on soup -- the hot liquid part (even after it cools) is just odd to them, so they mainly ate some of the broccoli and sausage that I pulled out of the soup. 

Still, it's important for me to have the boys help me cook and to learn about different foods, and this "recipe" was particularly fun as it encouraged them to see how you can create a meal with what you already have with just a little bit of creativity. Here's some other fun kids in the kitchen activities from The Weekly Kid's Co-Op: