Talking to your kids about hunger

Submitted by Elisabeth Galina

One third of Nova Scotians who are assisted by food banks in our province are children. Odds are someone in your child’s class is struggling with hunger, but you might not know it. Hunger is often hidden. It’s important that kids understand it and are inspired to make a difference. We know it’s not an easy subject, so we’ve put together a few tips to help out.

Teach the importance of empathy
People who face hunger come from different walks of life. It’s important to be empathetic—to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Imagine what their life might be like or how they feel. Empathy leads to compassion. Your children might hear other kids saying hurtful things about people who are struggling. Talk to them about how they can speak up.

Ask lots of questions
A great way to help your child explore what empathy means is to ask leading questions about hunger. This type of questioning keeps the discussion from becoming one-sided and allows your kids to learn about the world around them and practice empathy. Ask things like, “What would you do if you were hungry?” Or, “What might be hard to do if your stomach was always empty?” And, “How can we help people who don’t have enough to eat?”

Lead by example
Your children will follow your lead. Showing them how they can help instead of simply telling them provides a great opportunity for them to learn while doing some good. The next time you grocery shop, purchase something to donate to Feed Nova Scotia or your neighbourhood food bank. Bring your children with you when you drop off the donations. Chat with the staff and encourage them to ask questions so they understand where their donations will go. See what opportunities are available to volunteer together!

How do you engage your children to learn about hunger? What ways does your family help out? If you’ve got a story to share, we’d love to hear it! Get in touch by emailing