Submitted by Jessie Boukarim

 

“I can’t wait to eat, I’m starving.”

I’ve heard this said around campus all too often. Typically, this is conversed while strolling with friends to the dining halls or emporium. But to truly feel starvation is a completely different experience.

I spent the past couple years getting to know children struggling through some of life’s worst hardships. This entails no guarantee for when the next meal may come, fearing for your safety, and not feeling supported by your environment. Hardships contribute to maturity, but not without taking a toll.

Children lacking adequate nutrition are inhibited from proper neurological, muscular and skeletal development. Often these kids rely upon school lunches to get by, but that doesn’t always guarantee quality.

Having access to healthy food should be available to anyone. As students and faculty we are fortunate enough to have the ability to eat and choose what to consume. This isn’t granted to all Americans, considering one in four children go to bed without dinner every night.

Working with Rhode Island growers, students may collect enough food to support anyone in need. What better time to garden, farm or windowsill to grow produce? If we hope for positive change, it falls upon us to lead the effort.

These children are driven and motivated to help when someone believes in them. If you ever have the opportunity to mentor a grateful kid you’ll only grow from the experience. For as much as you teach them you’ll learn from what they share with you.

Truth is, if you spent one day with these kids you’d connect with them. They are sincere, creative and eager to help. Matter of fact, they’ve cleaned up campus and local beaches and rivers, collecting eleven heavy bags of rubbage.

One school in particular resonates the importance of investing in a community’s children. KIPP academy in Bronx, New York worked off a draft system, enrolling children from some of the toughest environments in the country. Although all odds are against them, students at this high school pursue a brighter future than their peers enrolled in other schools. They seize the rare opportunity given to them, studying relentlessly and winding up with the highest number of college students than any neighboring district. We all hold the potential to lead.

“Leaders are people who fertilize and catalyze. Leadership is the process through which one can influence others to work towards a goal,” said Warren Bennis, colonizer of leadership studies across all university campuses. When given the opportunity to support one another your impact goes a long way.