The other day I was scanning our full fridge and well-stocked cupboards to see what we need for the big Thanksgiving feast coming up next week. I had the news on while I was doing this, and I heard a segment about statistics that had been released by the USDA’s Economic Research Service: today, one in six Americans is what they call “food insecure.” That means they sometimes don’t have enough, or anything, to eat. Even more upsetting was the fact that one in four children isn’t sure whether they’ll be eating tonight. (You can see the numbers here: http://feedingamerica.org/faces-of-hunger/hunger-101/usda-hunger-numbers.aspx)

My Nana used to say, “Eat your food–there are children starving in Africa.” (I swear I wasn’t being a smart-alec when I said, “Then let’s send them the rest of this tuna sandwich.”) When I was a child, we didn’t hear much about children starving in America. Nana, though, had first-hand experience of hunger when she was a teenager during the Great Depression. There were many days when she had to make a corn muffin last for breakfast and lunch, and dinner was a can of soup.

Hearing stories like this broke my heart, and hearing that children today, living in the richest nation in the world, are back in this predicament made me want to weep. I looked at my Thanksgiving shopping list again. I gave thanks that we had the money to buy this food, and then I gave, first to my local food bank, and then to Feeding America, the hub for food banks across the nation.

The recession is still with us, and times are very tough this year, but we can all give in different ways:

* If you can make a monetary donation to Feeding America or your local food bank, great! To do either, go to Feeding America.)

* If you’re short on cash, you can drop an extra can of food at your local food bank–they appreciate anything they can get. Or send coupons. I recently got a coupon from our supermarket for a free ham, turkey, or pan of lasagna, and I’m mailing that to the food bank.

* If your children have stories of a friend at school who never buys or brings lunch, pack a little extra in your kids’ lunch boxes and let them experience the incredible feeling of generosity. I send my husband Nathan to work every day with two muffins–one for him, and one for his helper, whose wife just got laid off and who is watching every penny. Nathan says the joy of giving makes the muffins taste great. (Or better, since my muffins are just okay.)

Every little bit we do helps. Let’s give thanks, and let’s give. Thanks.

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