Feeding America has launched a new campaign for November, called “Pack it Til They’re Back,” to prevent children from going hungry over the Thanksgiving break. Many children get their sole nutritional meal at school through the free or reduced lunch program, and during breaks they may not have access to healthy foods. The campaign is part of their BackPack program. Through the progam, kids are discreetly given a back pack filled with nutritious and easy-to-make foods that they can eat over the weekend and breaks. Over 16 million children in America live in homes where there is no sense of food security. That’s over 16 million children who may very well go hungry over the weekend. Hungry children are more likely to score poorly on tests and under-perform in school.

I once got into a debate with a friend who claimed that no one in America ever died of starvation unless they chose to do so. He claimed that with all the food banks and government assistance, it was basically impossible for anyone to go hungry if they really wanted help. My stance was that this is totally untrue, especially in today’s economy where everyone is scraping just to come up with money to keep a roof over their heads, and the food banks are running short because more people are in need of them. For those who qualify for food stamp benefits, those funds only go so far, even if you’re getting the max. Food prices have risen through the roof, but benefits have gone up by maybe a few dollars tops. What used to last a family of three the entire month now runs out by the third week, and that’s if they’re really careful.

Those who aren’t receiving any assistance because they fall into that income gap where they don’t have enough to actually buy food, but have too much according to the assistance office, have it even worse. Have you seen the price of food lately? I actually almost cried when I went to get chicken breast and realized that it was almost $6 a pound. I had to pass it up and go with the $2.50 precooked chicken patties. Forget fresh fruit, my local grocery store had a bag of apples marked at $1.49. I was all excited, thinking “that’s a great deal on apples!” Yeah, not so much. It was $1.49 per pound. Eight small apples cost over $7. Needless to say, I put those back real quick. I’m going through a rough patch myself right now, and $7 apples just aren’t in the budget.   So yes, it is more than possible to starve in America, or at least be seriously malnourished.

Programs like Feeding America do everything they can to help, but they can’t do it unless they get help from others.Visit Feeding America’s Get Involved page to find out what you can do to help them out. Options include volunteering at a local food pantry or soup kitchen, becoming an advocate, donating to the cause, and more.