A wonderful bar or bat mitzvah gift suggestion

Involve your children in the initiative to erase hunger

PROVIDENCE – September is Hunger Action Month and the Rhode Island Community Food Bank has released a free twenty-page booklet full of ideas on ways children can participate in the initiative to feed the hungry. “One Kid Can! Helping the Hungry: A Toolkit for Kids and Young Adults” is a thorough guide for every age group, including preschoolers. Parents may provide some background information for their younger ones, explaining that a third of all people helped by the R.I. Food Bank are children. Every month, the organization assists more than 68,000 people in need.

The Jewish Voice spoke with Cindy Elder, Director of Communications at the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. Cindy said that they are constantly surprised by the creative ideas that kids come up with – things that they, adults, wouldn’t have thought of themselves. She said, “We celebrate that creativity and desire to learn at a young age how to be a thoughtful member of the community. Children have already done amazing projects for the Food Bank. They are naturally inspired and idealistic young citizens. We decided we wanted to capture that youthful energy and also help parents who are looking for ways to teach their children about giving back.”

Leafing through the booklet, which can be downloaded by visiting rifoodbank.org/HungerActionMonth or picked up at 200 Niantic Ave. in Providence, I am impressed by the original and innovative solutions the children devised. Those who have special talents use them to earn cash, which they then donate. Can your daughter or son play a musical instrument well? Make it happen. Sam Adamo did just that. He collected $700 for the organization by playing cello at farmers’ markets. Have an artistic child? No problem. Tell the young Picasso to follow Noah Strunin’s lead and get drawing. The seven-year-old chalk artist creates pretty, inspirational slogans on driveways in exchange for small donations to the Food Bank. Wouldn’t it be nice to pull up after a long day at work and see a cheerful message in colorful block letters – and know you’ve helped feed a hungry Rhode Islander?

If your child is about to celebrate a special day, such as a bar or bat mitzvah or a birthday, you might want to encourage him or her to think about helping others instead of adding to an already enormous pile of toys. After all, having enough to eat trumps playing with the newest version of PlayStation, doesn’t it? Another great idea is to involve your child’s school. Who doesn’t love a friendly game of basketball, especially when you play against your teachers?! Organize the event and, instead of charging admission, ask that the audience brings cans of food to donate.

The Rhode Island Community Food Bank is a non-profit organization located in Providence, R.I. The Food Bank solicits, stores and distributes food products donated by supermarkets, wholesalers, food processors, local farmers and community food drives. The food is then distributed to the Food Bank’s statewide network of 238 sites operated by its 178 member agencies. In the past fiscal year, the Food Bank distributed 9.75 million pounds of food.

For more information about the Food Bank or their hours of operation please visit rifoodbank.org. or contact Cindy Elder (celder@rifoodbank.org),  230-1674. Find them also on Facebook and Twitter.

Irina Missiuro (IMissiuro@gmail.com), a freelance writer and editor, is a Providence resident.