Recently, a woman approached me and asked if I could spare change for a meal. Without thinking, I said, "I'm sorry, I don't have any money."
My cheeks automatically flushed with embarrassment, and my heart sank. I had meant to say I didn't have cash to give her. It was completely obvious that a lack of money wasn't something I was dealing with.
It was my birthday. I had spent the day exploring downtown Seattle and shopping with my friends. We were just leaving a restaurant, shopping bags in hand, when the woman approached.
Walking back to our car, I was ashamed at the thoughtlessness of my comment. But the uncomfortable pit in my stomach wasn't just that. I was faced with this woman's needs. It hurt to see her lacking something she needed. I felt guilty for what I had. The sadness of the moment lingered with me.
The truth is, hunger is all around us -- even right here in the United States -- and it affects more people than we would like to believe. This woman made her need obvious to me. But hunger is often invisible. When we don't want to see it, hunger's power to harm people only grows.
One of the saddest realities of hunger is that the people most vulnerable to its harmful effects are children. Growing and developing without proper nutrition can impact a child for life. Many people believe that American children are immune to hunger because of school feeding programs.
But the reality is a much bleaker picture. Here are five facts on children facing hunger in America.