To most people, the F-word is one of the crudest and most despicable words you can say. I say it all the time; I'm no stranger to dropping the F-bomb.
But this F-word, although as horrific, is not the F-word you may be thinking of. This F-word is Famine. Famine is a widespread scarcity of food usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition and starvation. It is a scary epidemic most people don't think about on a daily basis.
During mealtime in the Kelly household, if we didn't finish the food on our plates we were lectured. Mom would tell us to clean our plates because there are starving children in Africa. At a young age, I wasn't sure exactly what that had to do with me finishing the disgusting brussel sprouts on my plate. It's not like I could have packed up all my leftover food into a box and sent it to Africa. Trust me; I had asked, but Mom told me that although the gesture was thoughtful, the food would spoil before it even got there.
As a young kid, I knew there were starving children all over the world, but I didn't know there were also starving children in America. Probably in my own hometown! We could have easily been those children. My family wasn't rich and there were many times we struggled with money and my parents worried about putting food on the table for us four kids. They never wanted their kids to go hungry, so it didn't matter if bills were paid or there was gas in the car; we ALWAYS had food and we never went to bed hungry. Which is why my parents stressed that we clean our plates. Instead of arguing or refusing to clean my plate, I went along with it because I couldn't imagine what it felt like to go hungry.
But it always seemed to me that the starving children in Africa were more important. Probably because they were far away; out of sight, out of mind. And I had seen more "sponsor a child in Africa" commercials than I had seen the affects of hunger in our own country on our own children. Was it possible there were starving children in America too, the richest country in the world? And if there were, how horrible was the famine in other countries? There was no way I could comprehend the damaging affects of famine, but it was time I tried.
Now as an adult, I fully realize famine is a horrible epidemic affecting thousands upon thousands of people all over the world. Because of this knowledge, I have a sense of guilt if I throw away food. Who am I to throw away food when someone somewhere else needs that food? I feel guilt in other ways as well, like going to restaurants and seeing how wasteful patrons can be, throwing out perfectly good food. Although I do not enjoy leftovers, I do try to eat them. But I'll admit that although I feel guilt about wasting food, I am just as guilty of wasting food as everyone else. It's something I'm conscious of and although I try not to waste any food, it's not always possible.
What I didn't know was that with a little bit of effort on each person's part, we can put an end to this cycle of hunger. Yes, Mom was correct; there are starving children in Africa. There are also starving children in America too. It may seem overwhelming, but you can take action. Find your local food pantry to help hungry people in America; donate money to Feed the Future to help hungry people all over the world. Sign a petition to end hunger at ONE. If you don't do anything else, follow my mom's advice and clean your plates so you don't waste food.
There are many ways you can help end this cycle; you just have to care enough to find a way. Spread the F-word among your friends, family, coworkers. Knowledge is power; the more people who know, the better.