Hunger Action Month Way of the Day: Create an intergenerational bond.

September 12, 2010 § 1 Comment

By Wendy Heiges, Senior Director of Advocacy and Public Policy

Happy Grandparents Day! It’s not a ploy from the greeting card industry.  It’s a real holiday, and it happens to occur during Hunger Action Month.

Grandparents.com explains its history:

[Grandparents] Day was in fact the brainchild of the late Marian Lucille Herndon McQuade, of Oak Hill, W. Va. McQuade had worked with senior citizens for many years and her dream was a holiday not only to recognize grandparents, but also to bring attention to the needs of people living in nursing homes. She began her campaign locally in 1970. In 1973, Grandparents Day became a West Virginia state holiday, and five years later, Congress agreed to make it a national event. On September 6, 1979, President Jimmy Carter signed the first Grandparents Day proclamation and the event was celebrated for the first time three days later. The holiday is now the first Sunday after Labor Day each year.

Grandparents Day is a wonderful opportunity to affirm the love and support grandparents bring to their families and grandchildren.

It’s also an opportunity to celebrate grandparents who are doing the hard and heroic work of raising their grandchildren.

Millions of children live in grandparent-headed households.  According to Generations United, about 640,000 grandparents in the U.S. are raising their grandchildren without parents present in the home.  Tens of thousands of these “grandfamilies” live below the poverty level and face tremendous challenges.

“Grandfamilies provide such an important service to their families and to the community,” said Jaia Peterson Lent, Deputy Executive Director of Generations United.  “They are providing children with safe, loving homes while in many cases dealing with difficult financial realities.  In some cases, grandparents who are raising grandchildren may have to choose between buying food for their family and paying for prescription medications for themselves.”

The Capital Area Food Bank understands food hardship and the challenges many grandfamilies face.  Through our Partner Agencies, we serve nearly 48,000 people per week.  Among them, nearly 6,300 come from households in which a grandparent provides basic needs to a grandchild.  They visit food pantries and kitchens weekly seeking emergency food assistance.

That grandparents have stepped up to do the hard work of providing for their grandchildren yet suffer from food insecurity is simply appalling.

In our society, we often think of social problems such as hunger in terms of discrete categories:  Child hunger. Hungry families. Hunger among the elderly.  But hunger is truly an intergenerational problem.  Hunger is a grandmother holding her grandson’s hand as they stand in line at the food pantry.  Hunger is a grandfather and granddaughter sitting side by side at a soup kitchen.

Hunger is unacceptable.

On Sunday, grandparents and grandchildren can celebrate their mutual love by engaging in activities that raise awareness of hunger in Central Texas communities.  We should also celebrate grandparents raising children for the second time.

Photo by Grace Carlisle courtesy of Generations United.

Here’s our suggested list of Hunger Action Month activities for grandparents in honor of National Grandparents Day (based on activities developed by Grandparents.com):

  • Start a tradition with your grandchildren.  Share a meal. It could be a meal made with food that a CAFB client would receive (link). You could go to a participating Randalls or H-E-B and “Fill the Barell, Feed the Need” together.  Whatever you choose, use this time to talk about those suffering from hunger and why grandparents and grandchildren should help.
  • Introduce your grandkids to gardening. Take the Give and Grow pledge to plant and harvest food for the Food Bank.
  • Celebrate with the gift of food. Instead of receiving gifts for Grandparents day, collect food and funds for the Food Bank.  Remember every $5 donated provides $25 worth of nutritious food.

Send in your photos:

Post a picture of your Hunger Action Month activity with your grandchild or grandparent to our Flickr Group.

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