A new initiative is bringing awareness to childhood hunger, one pouch at a time.
It's safe to say I am slightly obsessed with my son's eating habits. As a baby, I was always concerned he wasn't eating enough. As a breastfeeding mom, I never really knew how much he was getting, so I relied on the number on the scale to tell me he was gaining weight and growing.
When he started solids, I was eager to feed him as many different kinds of foods as possible. I wanted him to get the nutrition he needed from food, but I was also hoping that all those mashed peas and puréed sweet potatoes would lead to a lifelong love for vegetables. He was open to trying just about anything until he hit about 20 months when he suddenly decided he didn't "like" things. He started to turn up his nose at his favorite puréed produce and introducing anything new was often a bust.
I've read that toddlers sometimes seem to survive on "air" because they can eat so little, but it was very difficult for me not to try to get something in my son's mouth at every meal. And I would try anything—we had a dozen different fresh, organic fruits at the ready. My husband cooked homemade, baked chicken nuggets. We had boxes of organic macaroni and cheese. As a mom, I want my son to eat and I want him to eat well.
So when I met recently with Neil Grimmer, CEO of Plum Organics, to talk about the company's new initiative to raise awareness of childhood hunger, I was immediately all in. "Moms and dads across America want the best for their kids and in some communities that's just not possible," says Grimmer, who is also the father of two daughters. The new program, dubbed "The Full Effect," is dedicated to feeding the most needy babies and toddlers in the U.S.
According to the anti-hunger nonprofit organization Share Our Strength, 16 million children in the United States are food insecure. That's 1 in every 5 kids. Households that are food insecure often skip meals, cut back on the sources, quality and quantity of what they eat, or rely on emergency food.
To help, Plum has created an organic Super Smoothie pouch designed specifically for babies and toddlers. Made with nutrient-rich fruit, vegetables and grains, the company has committed to donating up to 500,000 pouches this year to its nonprofit partners: Convoy of Hope, dedicated to delivering food, supplies and hope to those who need it; Baby Buggy, which distributes new and used baby gear to families in need; Homeless Prenatal Program, dedicated to breaking the cycle of childhood poverty; and Conscious Alliance, which collects food donations for food pantries nationwide and economically isolated Native American reservations.
Individuals can help Plum and its partners reach their goal by texting "food" to 77177. (Each text received equals one pouch donation.) You can also visit Plum Organic's website for more information and ways to get involved in anti-hunger initiatives in your area.