This summer, I learned that the United Nations has an ambitious set of 17 goals it’s striving towards to create a more peaceful, equitable, sustainable world for all. No Poverty, Quality Education, and Gender Equality are just a few of the goals. Our Sunday School has been tying Bible stories to these goals to show how we can do God’s work in the world. I really love this concept and I’m learning a lot about what needs to be done in order to see real change. 2030 was originally the date the U.N. wanted to see the goals achieved by, but COVID has had a huge impact on a number of the goals. What gains had been made have rolled backwards. What’s always eye-opening is that issues like hunger, inadequate healthcare, and inequalities aren’t just taking place in third world countries – they are problems here in the abundant United States, too.
For our November Sunday School Lesson, we focused on the goal of Zero Hunger. Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity for us to remember that while our own tables may be plentiful, it’s not true for everyone. Food insecurity means that a household, or a family, is unable to provide enough food for every person to live an active, healthy life. This can be caused by a variety of reasons: perhaps a parent has lost a job, or families have to decide between buying food or paying rent or purchasing medicine. In some areas, it may be cheaper for families to buy food at convenience stores or fast food restaurants, but we know that this type of food isn’t a nutritious option. In other countries, war, famine, climate disasters, or the COVID pandemic have made it extra difficult or expensive for families to purchase food.
A great way to introduce these big concepts to kids is through children’s literature. Maddi’s Fridge by Lois Brandt and illustrated by Vin Vogel is a book that has stuck with me even though I first experienced it a couple years ago.
Sofia and Maddi are best friends and love playing at the park together. Sofia gets hungry and she rushes into Maddi’s home and opens the fridge to see what they’ve got for snacks. The fridge is empty except for some milk. Maddi explains that her mom doesn’t have enough money to buy more food. Maddi tells Sofia not to tell anyone, but Sofia struggles with this information. She goes home and notices how much food is in her own fridge. Sofia tries to sneak food to Maddi, but it keeps turning into a mess in her backpack. Finally, Sofia knows what she has to do to make sure Maddi gets the food she needs – she just hopes Maddi won’t get mad at her.
This book is both sweet and powerful – even though the cartoonish illustrations wouldn’t initially strike you as a book that packed such an important message – and I think it will have an impact on you, too.
Check your local library for this book, purchase it online, or listen to a read-aloud of the story on YouTube. Another great book about hunger and giving is Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora. This 2018 children’s book has beautiful cut paper illustrations, so it’s no surprise it received a Caldecott Honor.