Driving my step children to Summer Camp this morning, I checked to make sure each of them had $5 “snack money” for their field trip today. Being a Dietitian, I asked them not to buy sweets, like candy and popsicles, but I still knew most of the money would be spent on junk food.
While making the drive from camp to Sodexo, I began thinking about a volunteer event my team and I participated in last year during the Feeding Our Future® program. That particular day, we were serving “Make Your Own Pizza”: English Muffins, Marinara Sauce, and Shredded Mozzarella Cheese.
One child broke the English muffin in half, used only half of the sauce & cheese. He carefully placed the leftover sauce & cheese in a little container, snapped the top on and slid the English muffin half back into his bag. I asked him if there was something wrong with his food; he shook his head “no”. He then looked up to me with his big brown eyes and said, “We don’t have any food at home right now, so I am taking this home to share with my mom and dad.” We told him to go ahead and eat the whole pizza, and then gave him 2 more pizzas for his parents.
That meal was the only meal that family was going to have that day, and possibly for several days. I wondered how many children are in the same situation as that child was — Not only here in Houston, but all over this Nation.
Sodexo has given me the opportunity to help put an end to the awful problem of childhood hunger. We now have 24 sites throughout the U.S. involved in Sodexo’s Feeding Our Future program. I am proud to work for a company who makes the fight against hunger part of their mission.
Seeing the faces of those children who benefitted from the meals we provided that day has made a profound impact on my life. Each of us making the site visit that day left in tears, but at the same time, we felt incredibly lucky to have what we have.
It is amazing for me to think that I sent my step children to Summer Camp with a full lunch and money for a snack. My biggest worry was keeping them away from junk food. Their lunch alone was probably more food than most of the children served in the Feeding Our Future program receives in a week!
Shaynee Roper is a Sodexo dietitian and clinical nutrition manager for the Harris County Hospital District in Houston, Texas.