In her own words, the actress explains how suffering from hunger as a child inspired her to become an ambassador for Hunger Is, the joint charitable initiative of the Albertsons Companies Foundation and the Entertainment Industry Foundation.
We're living during a time when people don't share enough negative stories. It's certainly not what Facebook and Instagram are all about. When you look at your feeds, it's easy to think that everyone has the best marriage or the best kids or takes the most beautiful photos. Any story that's less than fabulous we keep to ourselves. For me, that story is a childhood spent suffering from hunger. I was ashamed of it for a long time. It's not something that I would readily discuss because being hungry is not sexy.
A few years ago the Entertainment Industry Foundation asked me to speak at a convention on childhood hunger in San Francisco. They didn't know it at the time, but I had a secret weapon: I would get up in front of 3,000 people in the convention hall and speak about my experience as a hungry kid. I had never talked about it in public before. I suffered in silence for so long, yet the minute I opened my mouth, countless people approached me with their own stories—and these were not all people living below the poverty line. I hadn't realized how many Americans were in "food poor" households, meaning that after they pay rent and all of their other bills, there's no money left over to eat.
VIDEO: Viola Davis's Advice for Raising a Confident Daughter
Basic nourishment should be afforded to everyone, and that is what Hunger Is fights for. Our Hungry for More campaign provides healthy breakfasts for students in high-need areas, and the initiative is cracking open stigmas. When kids can't focus in school, there isn't necessarily something wrong with them. They could have all the potential in the world, but they can't concentrate because they are hungry.
My husband and I constantly tell our own daughter, Genesis, to be grateful for every piece of food she puts in her mouth, because her mommy and daddy grew up in homes with nothing to eat. We want her to appreciate the fact that she can eat breakfast every day—having a bowl of cereal in front of her is a gift, and, hopefully, that lesson sticks with her. You don't have to have a lot of time or money to help.
Go to hungeris.org: You can send in as little as 10 cents or search for food-donation programs in your city or state. There are other things that are harder to eradicate, like cancer or heart disease. Hunger is totally fixable.
To learn more about Hunger Is and how you can get involved, visit hungeris.org now.