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America's childhood hunger and gun violence epidemics: can we end them both?

Every January for the past nine years, I've asked readers of The Perfect Pantry to think about how we all might do more to end hunger, and specifically childhood hunger, in the months ahead.

This year, things are different.

No, we have not solved the problem of hunger for the more than 16 million children in this country who don't get the food they need to grow and thrive. In fact, in this presidential election year, we're not talking very much about children, or nutrition, or education, or seniors or poverty or food deserts or school lunch programs or GMOs or healthy meals for families.

Sadly, we're not talking loudly enough about the epidemic of gun violence, either, and how it might relate to childhood hunger. The news, filled with reports of hate speech from those who wish to be president, also reminds us that nearly every day a child playing at home, or a woman in an abusive domestic situation, or a clerk at a corner store, dies from a gun shot. And, yes, mass shootings. And gun violence at the hands of police. An epidemic of gun violence.

According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, researchers estimate that gun violence costs the American economy at least $229 billion every year, including $8.6 billion in direct expenses, like emergency services and medical care.

Could we end childhood hunger in America with that $229 billion a year? Yes, we could, or we could get close. Think of all we could do with just $8.6 billion.

While we wait for Congress to find its backbone and enact meaningful laws to curtail access to guns in this country (and hats off to Connecticut and California, where governors have taken executive action to close loopholes, and to President Obama, who may take executive action very soon to require background checks), I can only think of one way to stop this madness, and that is to vote.

Vote, with your heart, with your dollars, with your keyboard. Use social media every day, to let your senators and Congressional representative, your state legislators and governors and mayors, know that if they do not actively support an end to gun violence, you will not vote for them.

We can do so much good with $229 billion. We can feed our children, and give them a strong start in life.

Voting is our superpower. Please vote.

And, if you can spare a few dollars, consider supporting one or both of these organizations that are working to end childhood hunger and gun violence (each of these logos is a link to the organization's web site), or support your local food bank:



Thank you, and happy new year to all.

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Thank you sincerely for taking a stand on both issues. You have my admiration.

Mary, thank you. I know we can do better.

yes, i believe we can do better as well; maybe we should support and patronize the businesses that are partners in "no kid hungry," boycott those that don't---and tell them why? would that help? don't know, but it'd be interesting to see how effective that would be ;0)

it's a crying shame that, in one of the most affluent countries on the planet, our own people--both the young and the elderly--struggle to have enough food to sustain them every day.....how did we get to this place anyway?? that's just not right at all :0(

i encourage.....no.....i challenge all "perfect pantry people" to jump in, do their part to support and get involved.....let's see where we can take this ;0)

Both are such important issues. I've been making an automatic monthly donation to No Kid Hungry for quite a while now, and I wish more people would do that.

Three Feathers, I agree. We need to redirect our resources from the effect of gun violence to the good we could do in solving childhood nutrition and providing a safety net for those at risk in our country. I know we can do better, with help from folks like you!

Kalyn, I too am a long-time supporter of Share Our Strength and No Kid Hungry. I know the work they do makes a real difference.

Let's make copies of this post which expresses the issues so clearly - to send to elected officials and candidates, and to our local businesses that can take direct actions in our own communities.

Years ago, when our local Community Kitchen was just getting started, they went to the largest local supermarket (local, not a chain), to ask for unsalable food. They were told that they never had any. Meanwhile, people could go to the dumpsters behind the store and see (and remove) substantial amounts of fully edible food that was discarded. At least we've come farther than that.

bless you kalyn.....you're on the west side doing your part, lydia's on the east side of the country doing her part....i'm in the middle,in the south, doing my part lol,
we need more folks to fill in the gap(s)!

Susan, we have definitely made strides, and yet it's unimaginable that 1 out of every 5 kids in this country is at risk of hunger. So much more to do.

Three Feathers, what a lovely thought, that we are covering the country! Thanks for adding your voice to this challenge.

Thanks for the suggestion. I already give to hunger groups but your message and link spurred my first donation-- and a recurring one at that--of 2016 to Everytown Against Gun Violence.

Costancia, I hope that people who feel the way you do, spurred on by our President, begin to walk the talk in 2016. Thank you !

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