Childhood hunger is nothing new, but it’s even more widespread now that the coronavirus has disrupted school lunch assistance programs as well as the incomes of parents; some parents are even resorting to dumpster-diving to feed their kids. The New York Times reports that our global food crisis will likely double by the end of the year, leaving 265 million people to face acute hunger.
This news is hitting home for a surprising individual: Oprah Winfrey. Although Winfrey no longer lives in poverty (certainly not! Look at those houses!) she knows what it’s like to struggle to put food on the table.
The humble talk show host told People that she’ll be donating $12 million through the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Organization to help vulnerable families affected by the coronavirus. Why? Because Oprah believes that if COVID-19 had hit while she was a kid growing up in Kosciusko, Mississippi and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she wouldn’t have survived — because her mother couldn’t afford both healthcare and food for her kids.
“I could weep to think about what my family would have been,” she told the publication.
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Class of 2020, this is not the graduation ceremony you envisioned. Even though there may not be pomp because of the circumstances, never has a graduating class been called to step into the future with more purpose and vision, passion and energy, and hope. My hope is that you will harness your education, your voice, your vote and use it to create more equity, more justice, and more joy in the world. Congratulations Class of 2020! You are now the class that COMMENCED a new way forward 🎓🎓🎓
Winfrey explained that, since her mother worked as a maid, there would be no way she would have been able to work during the pandemic.
“My mother wouldn’t have been able to go to work. She was a domestic (maid), traveling on the bus from inner-city 9th Street Milwaukee to Fox Point in the suburbs. That would not have been happening. We would have been doing what we could to find food,” Oprah told the publication — without elaborating how they’d even manage to find anything to eat, by dumpster-diving or otherwise.
Oprah added that she and her two sisters wouldn’t have been able to get medical testing or treatment either, as children. Because they didn’t have health insurance.
“Not only did we not have insurance, every time the insurance man came to the door, my mom told to me tell him she wasn’t at home. You tried not to get sick, because if you got sick, it threw everything off. And she had to decide, ‘Am I going to take my child to the doctor, or am I going to feed my child?’ So we would have been hungry,” Oprah explained.
Her donation will be distributed to Live Healthy Chicago, West United, and other organizations that help provide kids with food, mental health services, housing, and more basic necessities. With Winfrey’s help, fewer kids will go hungry, and more will survive this awful pandemic.
Oprah loves helping kids, even if she doesn’t want any of her own. Here are more celebrity women who chose not to have children.