Sunday, September 1, 2013

My Platform: Full Plates, Healthy States

The most personal and primitive of needs is a healthy, satisfying, and nutritious meal.

In the land of plenty, this great America in which we live, one in five children are hungry. Hunger in America is a staggering problem – an epidemic that is belittling the potential of America’s future one undernourished child at a time. As a young girl in 2003, volunteering for the first time at my church’s local food pantry, I physically felt ill at the line of hundreds of cars in my small town of only 3,000 that were lined up for hours to get their one box of food for the month. That day impacted me and set my soul afire to be an advocate for those who do not know when or from where their next meal might come.

:: [VIDEO] I discuss my fight against hunger in my #AmericasChoice video below :: 

Post-recessionary times have brought forth debilitating increases in the number of people who are suffering from “food insecurity.” At this point in the drive to end hunger, the Miss America Organization is in the perfect position to make a grassroots difference in the landscape of our nation’s future by promoting programs that feed hungry children and nourish the minds of those who will one day lead our country.

My platform – Full Plates, Healthy States – is a well-developed, two-fold process.

First, my priority is to provide food to the hungry – to, for example, the upwards of 20% of children who go to bed hungry each night. Secondly, I feel called to address the issue of nutrition and quality of the food provided to them. As an advocate of leading a healthy and active lifestyle, I am passionate about the underlying correlation which exists between food insecurity and obesity. I address filling up the plates of hungry children but doing so with healthy, nutritious produce—not the over processed, starchy filler foods which I have seen far too often going into the food pantry boxes. In order to compensate for the many physical, mental, and social implications of hunger, nutrition is key.

When I speak to children, it seems inappropriate to burden them with a weight as heavy as childhood hunger, so I speak to them candidly about complete health: physical, mental, and spiritual health. 

Through these three components to achieving total wellness, children are left with an arsenal of knowledge to achieve the goal of being able to “play harder, think smarter, and dream bigger.” Full Plates, Healthy States even alludes to the USDA’s dietary guidelines established through the MyPlate campaign. Teaching children about nutritional value and portion control with MyPlate, using real, scientific facts about exercise, and discussing the importance of having a healthy “heart” by serving others is my way of making health and the fight against hunger “kid friendly.”

With community leaders my strategy is head-on.

The imagery of a child in a classroom unable to focus long enough to complete his assignment, embarrassed and cowering at the sound of his tummy rumbling loudly is more than enough to motivate action. It is my job to leave adults tangible things that they can do that day to alleviate hunger. I have ten years of experience in organizing food drives, Thanksgiving turkey deliveries, packing and distributing boxes at both rural and inner-city food panties, and raising funds for No Kid Hungry. I am a founding member of a “Backpack for Kids” program serving critical nutritional support to children in a highly impoverished area of the Mississippi’s capital city. I have served as a Nutritional Ambassador at Summer Feeding Program sites led by the Mississippi Food Network. To date, my own initiatives have raised over 10,000 pounds of food for the undernourished, and yet the work closest to my heart is giving a heartfelt smile to the person receiving a nutritious meal or box of healthy foods—telling them there is no shame in being in need.

As Miss America, I will be an ambassador who not only promotes my platform through education and advocacy but stands in the trenches with those serving and distributing food to the hungry.

I have the experience and the reputation among anti-hunger leaders to take the spirit of service for which MAO stands to the next level. There is no better way to promote the Miss America brand than to display all for which it stands being put to work in communities across the nation. Working with news outlets and celebrities, I will increase public awareness of the growing financial needs of food banks in order to provide fresh, nutritious produce. I will use my testimony to gain corporate sponsorships that will directly provide sustainable food sources to those in need and financial support for the cause of childhood hunger.

Most importantly, as Miss America, I will overturn the issue of hunger as an “out of sight, out of mind” epidemic—spreading light to the faces of hungry children and mobilizing concerned citizens to make their own differences in communities.

I hope the hungry served will leave with a full pate, a soon-to-be-full to stomach, and a full heart – overflowing with the love that comes from knowing someone cares.


Chelsea Rick

Miss Mississippi 2013

FOOD BANK LOCATOR ----> Find a Food Bank

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