Author: Roxanne Moore, Executive Director Stop Hunger Foundation
Volunteers are crucial for charities and nonprofits. Unfortunately, only about one-third of adult Americans formally volunteer at least once per year, with about 15% supporting hunger and homelessness causes.
If you live in or near a community with hungry children and families, volunteering or service may mean helping a shelter, packing food bank meals or donating to a food pantry. These actions are essential, but they won’t eliminate hunger and its accompanying inequalities and injustices.
As we approach the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, this weighs on my mind as executive director of Sodexo’s Stop Hunger Foundation in America.
I’m beyond grateful for everyone who serves the hungry. I also provide food aid in my community. But I want us to remember more is required.
This month, we have an opportunity to take a deeper look at hunger through an online volunteer opportunity with the Congressional Hunger Center. Starting on MLK Jr. Day, January 16, we’ll spend 15 to 25 minutes every day learning about food insecurity through guided lessons, expert readings, videos, interactive maps and a lively discussion forum. Participants will receive lessons via email for five days.
As we gear up for a new year of heart-centered work, we’ll consider:
- What are the root causes of food insecurity?
- What would it take to end hunger?
Martin Luther King Jr. said, “True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”
Dr. King viewed hunger as a critical social justice issue. And the first step in tackling inequalities related to hunger is understanding its root causes and solutions.
As we continue to face a global food crisis, our U.S. Stop Hunger team aims to benefit at least 3.6 million people — in 2023 and every year. We say “benefit” with purpose. Because we do more than feed hungry people. We know we must provide the tools and resources to overcome challenges like joblessness, which contribute to hunger. We must use our expertise and talents to provide education, mentorship and leadership to those in need. We must search our souls and ask how we can help others achieve their greatest potential.
I am personally passionate about education and the trades, interests I inherited from my most influential mentor, my father. My dad was an Army veteran, musician and retired engineer who loved supporting technical high school students. He conducted the band, organized talent shows, taught mathematics and helped students build skills and navigate to trade school or college. He also advocated for technical education funding and coached students on life decisions, helping them stay out of trouble and get on the path to bright futures.
My father passed away in 2021, but he left a powerful legacy and impact. In 2022, his former students started the “Mr. Ron” scholarship in his honor. Many share how he shaped their lives, gave them hope and helped them pursue successful careers. My father lives in the lessons his students passed on to others and the teachers who witnessed his kindness. I can only hope to have that big of an impact.
I know we face big issues. Sometimes we as individuals can feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. But as MLK Jr. famously said, “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.”
Let’s start 2023 being great together, learning about everyday actions and advocacy in service to those struggling with food insecurity.
Register now at https://zha.curatr3.com/register for the MLK Day of Service End Hunger Challenge, January 16-20.
About Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation
The Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation works with and through partners to help end childhood hunger in the United States because no child should be hungry today or risk being hungry again tomorrow. Sodexo, Inc., which funds all administrative costs, and the nonprofit Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation, mobilize experts, innovators, volunteers and donors to feed children; to advocate for policies to end childhood hunger; and to implement innovative potential solutions, particularly those designed by youth. Since 1996, the Foundation has leveraged over $44 million in grant dollars to help end childhood hunger.