Nov. 26, 2013
Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, vegetables, bread and much, much more are waiting. Two days from now I’ll sit down at my sister’s house and indulge in an American tradition—eating more than I should and just when I think I can’t eat another bite, I’ll have a piece of pie. My sister and her husband are excellent hosts, I’ll be surrounded by family and everyone will have a lovely day.
Thanks for food, health, love and family will be given, just like in previous years. Grace will be spoken, food will be passed and the day will pretty much go like they have for years. (Except for that one year when a candle caught a napkin on fire at the kids’ table prompting my daughter to shout, “Fire in the hole!”).
But barring any flames, I expect my Thanksgiving to be pretty standard. Except for one thing. This year I’ll be thinking about children I met while on our Spartans Will.360 tour. You can see some of them in the photo above. I snapped that shot in Naitolia, Tanzania, where hundreds of schoolchildren were lined up for a bowl of rice and beans, thanks, in part, to the work of MSU’s Tanzania Partnership Program.
I'll be thinking of the hundreds of children there, and in other parts of the world we visited, that were happy for a drink of clean water and a small cup of beans and rice. It’s doubtful they know what overly full bellies feel like, nor would they understand the concept of leftovers.
Children in a small village in Malawi grateful for nutritional milk and a toy made out of its container, kids in the hills of Rwanda giving thanks for beans that continue to grow, malnourished babies in a children’s ward in Zambia, boys and girls playing on railroad tracks in Bangladesh—all of these children will be in my thoughts this Thanksgiving. It’s one thing to read about these children, but I’ve looked in their eyes, played with them and hugged them.
I will also think about people closer to home. We all know that hunger isn’t just a problem in Africa. Hunger is a very real problem for people in every city, in every state.
Paul B. Thompson, who holds the W. K. Kellogg Chair in Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics at MSU, examines U.S. history and the issue in this week’s FACULTY VOICE: Hunger isn’t easy to solve.
Unfortunately, college campuses aren’t immune from the issue. Many students aren’t supported by their parents, or have their own families, or just can’t stretch their money to cover all the costs of going to school. Students at MSU recognized that problem and 20 years ago, started the MSU Student Food Bank, the first food bank in the nation that’s run by students, for students. For the entire school year, the food bank has been assisting MSU students in need. Learn more by watching the video and reading the STUDENT VIEW: 20 Years of Giving, written and produced by MSU junior Annie McGraw.
I know I can’t solve hunger. No one person can. But this Thanksgiving I will take time to be grateful for all the Spartans who are trying one bean, one glass of milk, one water pump, one food drive, one research project at a time. It’s an incredibly challenging problem—which just makes Spartans want even more to solve it.
Photo of children in Naitolia, Tanzania, taken by author.