One of the best perks of being a kid is having no worries. Kids don’t have to stress about how they will pay rent, making sure they do their taxes on time, taking care of children or where their next meal will come from. Well, they shouldn’t have to worry about any of those things. But unfortunately, there are some kids who grow up in environments where they don’t have the luxury of coming home to a refrigerator full of food or parents who will pack them lunch every morning. In fact, there are many kids in that situation, as according to No Kid Hungry, as many as 9 million children in the United States currently live in “food insecure” households.

One parent on Reddit recently shared that their son’s best friend is one of those children. They noted that, in the past, they had been ensuring that the boy always got lunch, but recently, things have changed. The parent is now wondering if they were in the wrong for prohibiting their son for sharing food with his friend, and many passionate readers have weighed in. Below, you can read the parent’s full explanation, as well as some of the replies it has received, and an interview we were lucky enough to receive from Executive Director of Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids, Bethany Ross.

Then let us know in the comments how you feel about all of this. Have you ever helped a child who you knew might go hungry if you didn’t? Or do you know what it feels like to be the child left without lunch?

 

After deciding not to pack lunches for their son’s best friend anymore, this parent is wondering if they handled the situation poorly

While it is not this parent’s fault that their son’s best friend does not have enough money or food at home for lunch, once they became aware of the situation, it became their responsibility. As an adult, they understand that no child should go without lunch, and they should have taken steps to ensure this boy would never go without a meal. Most schools have programs that will provide free meals to kids in need, if their parents cannot afford to pay for lunch, but these programs are of no use if no one reaches out for help. It should not be this young boy’s responsibility to notify the school that he does not have food at home, but this parent can be his advocate and speak up to make sure he is well-fed and taken care of.

To gain more insight into this topic, we reached out to Bethany Ross, Executive Director of Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids, a Canadian organization that seeks to ensure no kid is ever without lunch. First, we asked Bethany how common it is for children to be going hungry at home or in school. “Every day, we see more and more kids and families facing food insecurity,” she told Bored Panda. “Alberta had the highest rate of food insecurity in 2021 at 20.3%. 1 in 5 children under the age of 18 lives in a household that experienced some level of food insecurity. There are studies that show that a kid experiencing food insecurity loses 132 minutes of learning each day if they are hungry at school … It is a pretty common issue. We are close to providing lunch for 6,000 kids every school day.”

We also asked Bethany what adults should do when they become aware of a child who is going hungry. “If they’re in Calgary, they can talk to their school and ask about the Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids (BB4CK) program. Our program is on over 225 schools in Calgary. If our program is not in a school, please reach out to our family connector Jasmine at jasmine@bb4ck.org. She will happily help families find food resources in our city. We are a barrier-free program, which means if a kid needs lunch we will give them lunch. No questions asked.”

“For folks outside of Calgary, we’d encourage them to reach out to their school or to find local resources that can help. Many cities have the option to call 211 to learn about community support,” Bethany says. And for pandas who aren’t living in Canada, you may need to do a bit of research about the programs available in your own countries, but if you’re living in the US, you can contact No Kid Hungry, and if you’re living in the UK, you can reach out to The Food Foundation.

Helping food insecure children can make a huge difference in many people’s lives. Bethany shared with Bored Panda that, “Over 400 volunteers get together in over 30 BB4CK kitchens to make sure close to 6,000 kids receive a sandwich, fruit, veggies and snacks every school day. We reach as many kids as we can and provide them with a nutritious lunch that fills their bellies and minds. People can help in many different ways, they can volunteer in one of our kitchens, donate, host a snack drive, host a fundraiser event and follow us on social media, helping us raise awareness. Talking about food insecurity for kids, and how this is an issue that impacts nearly everyone in a community, is also a valuable way to help make changes, so all kids have the food they need.”

“We are here to help,” Bethany added. “We know with high food prices, more and more families are stretching their dollars to make ends meet. We can help by providing a nutritious lunch every school day. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.” If you live in Calgary and want to learn more about BB4CK, you can find their website right here.

As many readers pointed out, in this particular child’s household, there may be more issues at hand than just a lack of food. Sadly, the bizarre and neglectful behavior of the parents might constitute a call to Child Protective Services. And as someone who has been made aware about this situation, it would be wrong for this parent to ignore a child in need. Even if there is nothing illegal happening in that home, starving a child should never go unpunished or unnoticed. It is much better for this parent to get involved and have someone doing welfare checks on this child than to allow more time, and more trauma, to take place.

We would love to hear your thoughts on this upsetting topic in the comments down below. If you’ve ever had to intervene to help out a child in need, feel free to share how you went about it, and if you know of any more resources to contact in situations like this, you can share them with your fellow pandas as well. No person on this planet should ever be forced to skip meals, especially children who depend on adults to look out for them and care for them.

Many readers told the parent that they should have done more to help, including contacting the school and/or authorities

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