The deadline for Writing Against Hunger has been extended to
Sunday, April 21, 11:59 PM EST

Writing Against Hunger Annual Contest

West Side Campaign Against Hunger’s (WSCAH) second annual writing contest invites young writers (ages 10 to 18) to share poetry and essay submissions about the ongoing hunger crisis in the United States today.

The food we eat nourishes our bodies and minds, but that’s just the beginning of the essential role cooking and eating play in our lives. Consider the importance of food and how it connects to memory, culture, and family. What happens when we or members of our community can’t access the healthy food we need? Why is it that one of the wealthiest nations on this planet continues to have millions of its citizens living without food security?

A pdf of these contest guidelines can downloaded here.

Hunger is a personal, complex issue that affects people on an individual and global scale. It can feel daunting to approach this subject. Ask yourself: “how does hunger affect me?” or “how does hunger affect the people around me?” We’ve included some prompts below to help you get started, as well as a collection of poetry from Poetry X Hunger, a poetry project dedicated to the work of writers of all ages tackling the difficult topic of hunger.

These are just suggestions to help get your creativity flowing: If you have an exciting idea for how to write about food that isn’t represented below, go for it!

  • Think about the importance that food plays in our community – how does food bring us together?
  • Think about the idea of fullness or nourishment. What does it mean to you to be full? How is being ‘ full’ about more than what we eat?
  • Write a poem that personifies hunger and its impact.
  • Explore the societal factors that contribute to hunger and its unjust consequences.
  • Craft a poem that paints a picture of a community’s resilience in the face of hunger-related injustices.
  • Consider the role of privilege in perpetuating hunger-related injustices.
  • Imagine a world where hunger is eradicated and justice prevails.
  • Reflect on the moral imperative to address hunger as a fundamental human rights issue.
  • Write about the many people who are working tirelessly to combat hunger and its injustices.
  • Explore the theme of food waste and its relationship to hunger and injustice.
  • Think about hunger and inequality and write a poem that calls for social justice and change.
  • Try starting a piece of writing containing (or beginning with) one of these lines:

puzzling… So much food around, yet so many hungry…
My bad. I just threw half my sandwich away…
Have you ever wondered why food isn’t a shared right like the air we breathe?

Age Categories
10-12 years old, 13-15 years old, 16-18 years old.

WSCAH will select a group of finalists from each age group.

All finalists will have the option to be published online on WSCAH’s website and receive a WSCAH gift bag. There will be several winners in each age category. Winners are invited to perform their work on Sunday, May 19th, at WSCAH’s annual block party, ROCKS THE BLOCK. They will receive a prize gift card to a local business. Poetry submissions will also be considered for cross-listing on Poetry X Hunger.

Submission Guidelines

  • Maximum 1-page length (multiple submissions will not be considered)
  • Age-appropriate language (submissions with offensive language will not be considered)
  • Submissions must be uploaded by 11:59 pm on April 19th, 2024

How to Submit

  • You can submit your writing (maximum 1 page, 12 pt font, single-spaced) by following this link.
  • A signed authorization form (linked here) must accompany submissions from individuals under 18.

West Side Campaign Against Hunger’s (WSCAH) mission is to alleviate hunger by ensuring all New Yorkers have access with dignity to a choice of healthy food and supportive services. WSCAH aims to create a system where the healthy foods that our customers seek can be accessed when and where they want them.

Core to WSCAH’s mission is addressing the underlying root causes of food insecurity through advocacy and providing a comprehensive suite of supportive services aimed at helping families on their journey to food security. All WSCAH customers complete an intake assessment and are screened for a range of benefits and services by our Benefits Access team, including SNAP (food stamps), Public Assistance/Cash Assistance, and Health Insurance programs.

WSCAH continues to see persistently elevated demand for food. Today, WSCAH serves roughly 3x the number of individuals as before the pandemic. In FY23 (July 2022 – June 2023), WSCAH’s food access program, including our 86th Street distribution center, 29 community distribution sites, and homedelivery program, served over 123,000 household distributions. In total, we provided 3.9 million lbs of healthy food, 55% of which was fresh produce. Our Benefits Access team connected 1,057 families to vital benefits, including over $2.2 million in SNAP assistance.