Posted: Tuesday, January 1, 2013 3:20:47 AM
When I read that this month’s contest theme was “Be The Change”, I couldn’t help but smile. For the past three years I have worn a ring that bears the same phrase every day, rain or shine or sweatpants day. I wore it today, sitting at home in pajamas. I wore it every day in the summer, resulting in a seriously awesome tan line. And I wore that well-traveled sterling silver the day I got up in front of 300 experts from around the globe at the World Food Prize and spoke about ending hunger in our time.
“Be the Change” to me means ensuring that everyone everywhere has adequate access to the most basic of all human rights: food. I especially focus on domestic hunger because it is literally right in my backyard and I know there is so much need and so much I can do to help. There are more than sixteen million children in the United States who are food insecure. This means that roughly one in twenty American kids don’t know where their next meal is coming from. They may be getting their food from gas stations, getting by on school breakfasts and lunches, or not eating at all, especially on the weekends. How can this be? We are among the world’s wealthiest nations and still we cannot take care of our most vulnerable.
I decided to do something about it. I’ve written a report for the World Food Prize Foundation on improving humanitarian relief in Somalia and was able to participate in the Global Youth Institute, a gathering of students and experts from around the world working to fight hunger. This was when I was chosen to speak. If you watch the video, you can tell my hands are shaking –but with every wavering gesture comes a flash of silver. My ring has also been there every time I’ve taken a shift at the local food shelf, sorting through donations and shelving the green beans, peas and especially corn that seem to come our way so often. I helped organize and execute this year’s food drive at my high school, and we ended up blowing last year’s can total out of the water, providing enough donations to supply our food shelf for three or four months. I plan on picking up many more shifts in 2013, writing again for World Food Prize and perhaps interning at a national hunger charity over the summer.
My ring is beginning to wear out - the words are less defined, the silver not as sharp. It’s not unexpected -this is what happens when you wear a piece of jewelry for more than a thousand days straight. But I will continue to put it on every morning until the words are no longer visible or it no longer fits, at which point I plan on putting it on a chain and wearing it as a necklace. I never want its message to be far from my heart.