Jen Jinks, the National Campaign Director for No Kid Hungry, is on a mission to give kids the childhood they deserve while taking away the anixety surrounding the possibility of future meals.

Mediaplanet: Why is hunger in America such an important issue in our world today?

Jen Jinks: Hunger exists in every corner of this country, and it has a huge impact on our community as a whole. One in 5 kids in America doesn't get the food they need every day. This takes a terrible toll on their health and development, and threatens their futures in profound ways. It also drags down our nation's economy by perpetuating the cycle of poverty.

Three quarters of teachers see kids regularly coming to school hungry, and we know that kids can’t learn when they’re hungry. They can’t keep up with their peers if they’re going back to school in the fall without getting proper nutrition over the summer. They can’t reach their full potential, and we can’t have a strong America with weak kids.

"They should be focused on playing with their friends, learning about the world around them and growing up healthy and strong."

The good news is we know how to fix that. We know that kids who eat school breakfast score higher on math tests and attend more days of school, making them more likely to graduate high school. We know the way to make meals more accessible when school is out. We’re proving that on the ground in communities and taking those lessons across the country.

MP: What are some ways our readers can get involved?

JJ: There are lots of ways for people to join us in this fight: volunteer to lead nutrition education courses, spread the word about free summer meals in your community, tell your congressperson to support efforts to get kids meals, make a donation or support a promotion from one of our partners. When we work together, even small actions make a big impact. But we there’s more work to be done, and we need your help. There are so many ways to make a difference, and you can learn how to take action at NoKidHungry.org.

MP: What inspired you to get involved in the fight to alleviate hunger in America?

JJ: When I realized that so many children right here in our own country were struggling with hunger, I knew I had to do something to help. Kids shouldn’t have to worry about how they’re getting their next meal. They should be focused on playing with their friends, learning about the world around them and growing up healthy and strong. I’m now a mother myself, and it makes me even more driven to ensure my daughter’s friends and classmates get every meal they need every day.

We see a future where kids will get a healthy breakfast every day at school so they’re ready to learn, and they won’t have to worry about how they’re going to eat when school is out for the summer when the safety net of school meals isn’t available to them. Rather than feeling the stress of food insecurity, kids will just be able to be kids.