Photos by: Tim Bishop | Quite Frankly Productions
Watching hunger stop: Kate Hudson joined WFP in Cambodia to see how school meals change lives.
To get the obvious question out of the way: yes, Kate Hudson is exactly who you think she is—warm, genuine, strong, funny, and full of energy. Over the course of several days spent visiting schools, farms, and private homes, her curiosity and her intense desire to connect never flagged. Both gracious and game, she did it all: cooking and eating meals at school, jumping rope and playing soccer at recess, holding hands with grandmothers, eating every gift of food no matter how exotic offered to her, and gleefully holding the many babies people handed to her.
Hudson comes by her do-good spirit naturally. Her mother, Goldie Hawn, is a committed child advocate, and Hudson is on the board of the child-centered Hawn Foundation. Three years ago, when Michael Kors asked her to join Watch Hunger Stop in support of WFP’s school meals program, she needed no convincing. And when the opportunity arose to see for herself how Watch Hunger Stop helps WFP support children, she jumped at the chance.
During her trip, Hudson also met farmers who are growing fresh produce like spinach, eggplant and winter melon to create nutritious and locally sourced school meals. This homegrown approach means school meals from WFP aren’t just nourishing boys and girls in the classroom, they’re lifting entire families out of poverty by creating a sustainable market for locally grown crops.
“There’s something so simple but so deeply important about what the World Food Programme is doing,” says Hudson. “Here, it’s not only about feeding children but about getting a country back on its feet. It is a lot more in-depth than you realize from the sound bites you hear. It was an eye-opening experience, and I’m sure that if we can get more people involved, we really will see an end to world hunger.”
It takes a village: WFP’s Home-Grown School Meals initiative buys food from local farmers, like the fish farm above (bottom right), to support local economies.
In Cambodia, as in most places where WFP provides school meals, education often takes a back seat to the daily struggle to survive. Almost 20% of children between 5 and 17 in Cambodia are “economically active,” meaning they work to help support their families. The promise of a nutritious meal carries enormous weight for families: it can tip the balance between a child going to school or going to work.
For Kate Hudson and Michael Kors, keeping that promise of a nutritious meal each school day is the point of Watch Hunger Stop. “WFP’s school meals program helps children in the moment and for the long term,” says Michael Kors. “It’s a way to change lives, and we’re proud to support them.”
Later that same day, waiting for the film crew to set up at a small farm, Hudson strolled away down a dirt road with Kannitha Kong, a local WFP staffer. She returned an hour later and told us about a chance encounter with a young mother of 4 daughters who’d invited her into her home. It had been another opportunity to connect. And another baby to hold.