Thoughts of Thanksgiving bring me warm fuzzies. It is my favorite meal of the year…chestnut stuffing, sweet potatoes with browned marshmallows, and pecan pie for dessert with family and friends around the table. What’s not to love? I also think it is all-American and represents the best in our country. It’s a time when everybody focuses just a little less inwardly and a bit more on those around them.
Food and feelings are bountiful at this time of year. But what happens to those who have little? Maddi’s Fridge by Lois Brandt is a truly amazing book. It tackles the issue of childhood hunger with a light touch and a gentle hand. Maddi and Sophia are best friends who both have younger brothers, love to play tag in the park, and climb the rock wall at the playground. After a day of fun together, Sophia, exclaiming that she is hungry, runs up to Maddi’s apartment only to find the refrigerator empty except for milk that Sophia is saving for her little brother. Maddi makes Sophia promise not to tell anyone. Sophia arrives home as her mom is serving a hot nutritious meal, where even the dog’s bowl is full of food. She suddenly has a heightened awareness of their stocked fridge and full plates, even as her brother complains in a good natured way about his preference for Cheesy Pizza Bombs over their fresh fish dinner.
Wishing to help, but honoring her promise, over the course of several days Sophia attempts to bring food in her backpack to Maddi but fish, eggs, and burritos don’t travel so well. Amidst the frolicking, Sophia wonders what to do to help her friend. She decides that she needs to break her promise and Sophia finally tells her mom. With bags of food, they arrive at Maddi’s house and the friends talk about promises. Finally Sophia explains that her friend is more important than her promise. The book closes with ways to help friends who have empty refrigerators, a recipe for the coveted Cheesy Pizza Bombs, and a website with more information, including this quote from Feeding America, “Did you know 16 million children in America live in households struggling with hunger? That means that more than 1 in 5 children may not always have enough to eat. In the world’s wealthiest nation children can’t always get the nutrition they need to survive. This is unacceptable. Working together, we can solve this.”
Thanksgiving gives us a natural opening to talk about hunger–a teachable moment if you will. Books provide us a starting point for the conversation. Enjoy the abundance of generosity and giving this season.