A few weeks ago, I was in my living room back in Chicago, trying to decide what to pack for my four-month stay in Rome. My three suitcases were several pounds overweight, and I needed to reduce the load.
“What can I live without?” I asked myself. My mom had many suggestions: books, electronics, framed pictures of friends and family – all of these things ended up in a pile on the floor.
But there was one thing she thought I should leave at home, and I refused.
There was no way I was leaving the country without at least three jars of peanut butter. I’ve been eating peanut butter sandwiches for lunch almost every day since I was a first-grader, and I wasn’t about to give that up because of rarity and high prices of the spread in Europe.
In the end, I managed to keep one jar, and my mom promised to send me another one. At the time, it seemed like a great sacrifice.
Now, three weeks into my stay here, I couldn’t care less about my dwindling supply of PB. Part of my job on WFP’s Youth Outreach Team involves educating students about the scarcity of school lunches in many parts of the world. Without proper nutrition, children have difficulty focusing at school, resulting in the downward spiral of education and health for the people in such countries.
I’ll be sitting at my desk, writing about these hunger problems, and I’ll want to take a break for a snack. It’s hard to imagine sitting through their classes all day without having eaten, but it’s a sad reality for too many children.
Thinking back to my packing dilemmas, I can’t believe I told myself I couldn’t live without peanut butter. In light of realising my ignorance, I have a greater understanding of the importance of teaching and learning about world hunger.
Little did I know, my favourite lunch is derived from the same thing used to help feed hungry children – peanuts. Peanuts are used as the basis of a new breed of highly nutritious products WFP is distributing to children.
It only takes $34 to feed a hungry child for a year – it’s a small price, especially considering the alternative. For most people I know, getting through a day of school without food is unimaginable. And really, there’s no good reason school should be that way for anyone.
Start changing reality, especially for the people in Haiti – visit “Students Helping Haiti” to find out how.
Christine DiGangi is from Chicago and is interning with WFP Youth Outreach. She loves running, chocolate, and fighting hunger.