It’s a struggle as old as time. Trying to get kids to eat broccoli, peas, spinach, carrots … the list goes on and on. Moms try to hide vegetables in smoothies, disguise them in mac and cheese, and even sneak them in treats like brownies.
It’s a victory anytime a mom can get her child to eat fruits and vegetables without a fight. And parents are beyond thrilled when their child likes healthy foods.
It’s vital for a child’s growth to eat a nutritious diet of foods that are good for him and help him thrive.
That’s why in elementary school, we learned about the food pyramid. Even though the pyramid has changed over time — sadly, we’re not supposed to eat as many grains as when I was a kid — the basic principles have remained the same: eat a balanced diet of foods with proteins, fats, vitamins, iron, and fiber.
Here are five types of food every child needs in his diet:
1. Proteins like chicken, beef, pork, eggs, and beans
2. Fruits such as apples, oranges, grapefruit, and bananas
3. Vegetables including broccoli, spinach, and carrots
4. Grains like oats, rice, and healthy breads
5. Dairy such as milk, cheese, and yogurt
These five kinds of food are essential for a child’s growth and development. They are chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that his cells need to reproduce and his organs need to function.
But in many areas of the world, eating healthy isn’t an option for children. They’ve never heard of the food pyramid or that they need protein and calcium every day to grow big and strong.
Some days, kids growing up in impoverished conditions may not eat at all.
These children will suffer from stunted growth. Their minds won’t fully develop, their limbs won’t retain muscle, and they may never be capable of running or walking. Severely malnourished children are also more prone to diseases and even early death.
Here are some examples of what a child in poverty eats:
South Sudanese refugees have been so hungry that some report living off of grass and wild berries.
2. Scraps from the garbage
Sometimes impoverished families have nowhere to turn but the trash to see if they can find any bits of edible food.
3. Food typically fed to animals
In Zimbabwe, starving children eat amajodo, a tasteless melon that is usually fed to livestock such as donkeys.
4. Boiled cardboard
When Mosul, Iraq was under siege, parents boiled cardboard boxes and fed them to their children to fill their bellies.
Sometimes even these desperate substitutes aren’t an option.
Many children in the U.S. have choices when it comes to their diet. They might select a meal from the children’s menu at a restaurant or choose whether they want string cheese or a fruit cup for a snack.
But kids living in poverty don’t have much choice.
Starvation and malnutrition are daily realities for children all over the world. But you can help rescue a child from starving today.
Your $40 gift will help feed one child for an entire year. The food you provide will give him the vitamins and minerals that he is missing so he can feel happy and healthy, concentrate in school, and run and play with other kids.
You will help a kid be a kid again, instead of worrying whether or not he will eat … or if he will die.
You can literally help save a child’s life by providing food for a year.
So today, give thanks that you have healthy food available every day — and commit to helping feed a child who doesn’t have any food at all.