While volunteering at Lakeview Food Pantry in Chicago a few years ago, I met a single mother of four boys. She had just completed a shift at one job and was about to begin an overnight shift at her second job. As she collected food to feed her sons for the week, they helped one another with their homework on the warehouse floor.
Their situation is more common than many comfortable Americans might think: One in eight U.S. households with children experienced food insecurity in 2021, according to the Agriculture Department. And that is just the beginning of the story.
Children who experience hunger are more likely to have physical and mental health challenges as well as struggle socially and at school, according to Kecia Johnson, assistant professor of sociology at Mississippi State University. This is an equity issue, too; Black and Latino families disproportionately experience food insecurity.
I remember leaving school before a long weekend, excited to spend that extra day playing sport or hanging out with friends. Sadly, far too many students fear these mini breaks, as they rely on their schools for meals and nutrition. Imagine the uncertainty they felt during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Every child deserves the opportunity to flourish. If children have enough to eat, experts say, they are better able to thrive physically, mentally and emotionally. They then have a better chance of leading healthy and productive adult lives—making our overall society stronger and more resilient.
Tremendous potential for impact
CoreGiving was established in 2016 by our partners at Shopcore and has since grown to include not just ShopCore and Link but a total of 10 Blackstone Real Estate portfolio companies. It is a key component of our mission to make a positive impact in the communities where we operate. So far in 2022, CoreGiving has raised over $2.4 million to fund almost 13 million meals provided across 19 states.
Childhood hunger and the work being done to address it are always relevant. But I bring this up now because September is Hunger Action Month, September 23 is Hunger Action Day and October 13 will mark our annual CoreGiving Day, a large-scale mobilization of Link employees. Last year’s CoreGiving Day saw over 400 Link team members donate more than 3,200 hours of volunteer time to an effort that provided 150,000-plus meals. Over 800 Link employees have already volunteered to participate in this year’s event.
Since its inception, CoreGiving, thanks to the generosity of our partners, has funded more than 25 million meals through food banks around the country. We have donated to over 50 food banks and partnered with 500-plus donors. Our goal is to donate at least 14 million meals in 2022 alone. To me, these numbers are a pressing reminder of the critical need to address childhood hunger—and the tremendous potential for impact.
Faces and lives behind every statistic
Food insecurity and childhood hunger are somber subjects, but there are glimmers of optimism. The 12.5 percent of households with children that experienced food insecurity in 2021 in fact represented the lowest rate in two decades. Experts credit this to increases in federal aid during the height of the pandemic—which means that the need for help from nonprofits, corporations and everyday citizens alike will increase as pandemic-prompted federal aid programs expire.
And it should go without saying that, even as the lowest rate in recent history, 12.5 percent is a tragically high figure, especially for a country with our resources. There are faces and lives behind every statistic—that mother in Chicago and her sons, along with too many families like them.
I am proud of the impact we have made so far, but the truth is that at CoreGiving we are just getting started. I invite you to learn more about CoreGiving and to consider donating to the worthy cause of ending childhood hunger. Doing so can feed children like those four brothers doing their homework on that warehouse floor—and even change the very trajectories of their lives.