Two-time Academy Award nominee Viola Davis is working with the Hunger Is campaign to eradicate child hunger in the U.S. As a child, Davis had to dig through trash cans and steal food so that she could eat, and sees childhood hunger as an issue still prevalent among kids in the U.S.
Davis, who grew up in Central Falls, R.I., realizes that social stigmas keep children from speaking out about being hungry.
“You wake up thinking about food, you go to sleep thinking about food,” Davis said. “We live in a country where you can have anything in your reach, and it’s emotionally shameful to live in a land of plenty with nothing to eat.”
According to the CDC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one in five children are suffering from hunger, which is commonly called “food insecure”.
Davis is now working with the Hunger Is campaign, to eradicate child hunger in the U.S. Part of the Safeway Foundation and Entertainment Industry Foundation, the campaign is raising funds through HungerIs.org and will kick off in Safeway grocery stores April 1.
The funds will go through a grant process and be allocated to breakfast programs in schools across the country, according to Larree Renda, chair of the Safeway Foundation.
Davis said many times school lunch was one of the only meals she could count on. Living with five siblings, Davis said her father, now deceased, worked as race horse groomer, and struggled with alcohol. She said she watched as the “best man she knew” tried to keep his family afloat.
“The tension and stress that comes from living in poverty and trying to provide for your family, that shame and frustration weighs on a person,” Davis said.
Davis said she gained the courage to chase her dreams from educational programs like Upward Bound, and people who went above and beyond the call of duty to help her.
“That little girl who grew up in dysfunction and poverty is still with me. That’s why I need to help those who don’t have a voice,” Davis said.