The face of hunger is often ignored, labeled and judged. Because of the nature of my job, I've learned a lot of about hunger. Each week we host our mobile pantry I see the face of hunger. What I see are people just like me. People don't choose to be hungry. I don't know anyone who says "I want to be hungry when I grow up". But it happens and it happens everyday.
After sitting in a press conference at the Forgotten Harvest warehouse in Oakpark, Michigan, talking with agencies from all over Detroit and the surrounding communities. Each person shared how desperate the problem is. I felt my heart stirred to share the hunger story.
But how could I share this story in a way that it would stir people to action? Most of my family and friends all know about hunger right here in the Detroit area. Many have come out to help serve at our pantry or they have supported financially at our fundraisers. I needed a platform to share this story with. I decided Snapchat was the place to begin.
I have been on Snapchat for a couple years now. I originally joined because my daughter kept telling me how fun it was and talked me into it. The beauty of this app is that allows me to share photos and videos in the moment. I used Snapchat just to communicate with friends and family near and far. Suddenly in 2016 Snapchat really exploded and grew into a huge community filled with people from all over the world and ready to engage, encourage, support and even collaborate.
So about a month ago I ran a contest called #hungerhasaface on snapchat. I shared a set of questions about hunger in America and sprinkled clues throughout my snap story. The prize would be a box of my homemade cookies. I had no idea what to expect. Suddenly people began messaging me their hunger story. I had 8 competitors. Several people really got involved and had fun teasing each other as they competed. In the end, there was a tie between two of my snap friends, Morgan and Jayson.
So what did this little contest do? It started a conversation. Before any action begins, a conversation must happen. I started getting messages from snap friends asking when my next contest would be. So I prayed about it and decided to hold a second contest.
Tomorrow I will announce the second winner of the #hungerhasaface contest. This round has 23 people competing in the contest. I say competing because they do have challenges and gather points. But several of the people involved have said, they don't care about winning they just wanted to share the message and encourage people to do something.
The challenge was to share in their snap stories hunger facts such as, 1 in 5 children go hungry every day in America. Each competitor was encouraged to read my blog post "Hunger doesn't discriminate" and share what resonated with them. They were encouraged to swap snap accounts and share on my channel or on another competitors chanel. My favorite challenge was for competitors to write a song or change the words to a prerecorded song sharing hunger facts.
What I didn't expect was the excitement and passion that each person would bring. Personal stories of hunger were shared openly. Tips to save money and make food stretch farther were shared as well. One competitor, Emily shared that she was able to purchase vegetable & herb plants at Lowe's and Home Depot with her EBT card. I did not know that was possible. I will share that golden tip with my pantry guests. Several people committed to saving a specific dollar amount each week to donate to their local food rescue or pantry. Community gardens are going to be planted as well as people going to volunteer.
There are great resources and power available when a community comes together. The Snapchat community is full of people working together to make a positive impact in their community. Conversations are being had and hearts are being stirred to action. As on of my Snap friends and competitors said this morning : "Sadly my friends, today in the last day of #hungerhasaface challenge. Equally sadly, today is not the last day of hunger". My friends, hunger does have a face, what are you going to do about it?
Keep the conversation going. Find a food pantry to volunteer at. Plant a community garden or help support one by volunteering. My prayer for anyone who reads this is that your heart is stirred to action.