By Giavanna Troilo
IN HER ROLE AS YOUTH AMBASSADOR for the Food Bank of South Jersey (FBSJ), CC Miles is focused on spreading awareness about food insecurity through her music. Miles, a South Jersey native, is anticipating several big moments in her year as Youth Ambassador, including supporting Health & Wellness initiatives, performing at major fundraising events, appearing on television, radio and community platforms to share the impact of youth hunger in South Jersey, as well as recording and releasing her original song on food insecurity. We spoke with Miles about her personal nutrition journey, plans for the rest of the year as Youth Ambassador, and what to expect for her upcoming single – which tells the story of food insecurity from the view of a teen.
How do you use music to communicate with your listeners about what’s important to you?
CC Miles: Writing is kind of like a form of therapy for me. I write down what I feel, and I’m able to organize it into something that makes sense and get it out of my head. If one of my songs makes just one person feel like they aren’t alone, then going through what I went through to write it becomes worth it to me since it helped someone else. When I learned about food insecurity and how common it is, the ideas started running in my head like crazy, and I thought that music would be the most powerful way for me to share the message.
In South Jersey, 1 in every 8 children are food insecure. How do you intend to use your platform to shed light on this pressing issue?
CC Miles: I think talking about it is very important. Up until I started learning more about the FBSJ, I had no idea how common food insecurity was, and I’d bet that many other people my age and younger don’t either. If we don’t know about it, then there’s not much we can do to help. I plan to use my platform to get people talking about this issue and hopefully brainstorming solutions as well.
When did nutrition and healthy eating become something you wanted to prioritize in your personal life?
CC Miles: I became interested in nutrition when I was 14 years old after struggling with digestive issues due to many food intolerances and an unhealthy diet. I became very aware of the food I was eating and how it affected the way I felt. Ever since then, I have always prioritized nutrition in my life. I became very grateful that I have the ability to choose the food that I put in my body after learning that there are so many people that aren’t able to get enough food, let alone have options.
As Youth Ambassador, you have the ability to connect with children of all ages who may not know that their own friends are hungry. What would you recommend to children who want to know how to help their peers?
CC Miles: Knowledge is definitely power when it comes to this; many kids don’t know that the person they are sitting next to in class could be food insecure. The more students know the more likely it is for them to decide to get together and do something about it. I think making sure student organizations are aware is huge because they can implement things like food pantries and have more events with free food if the issue is always in their minds.
The stigma around food insecurity causes many teenagers experiencing it to hide what they are going through. What would you say to someone your age who is afraid to seek support?
CC Miles: I would research the support that is in place and share that information with them. Many areas have implemented things like food pantries, summer food programs, and soup kitchens that they might not know are available to them. I would make sure they know that there is no reason to be scared to seek support, and hopefully convince them by sharing the statistics of just how many others struggle with the same issue.
What can your social media following look forward to as you progress through your year as Youth Ambassador?
CC Miles: The biggest thing that I am looking forward to sharing is the song I wrote about food insecurity. I will also be involved in many of the events that the FBSJ puts on. I hope to even go to schools to spread awareness and perform the song, which would be really great because I would actually get to see and talk to the kids I am influencing.
How do you plan to carry your experiences as Youth Ambassador with you into your future?
CC Miles: I plan to carry my experiences with me through everything I do. I have learned so much; it makes me think more and want to help and volunteer for the rest of my life. Simply knowing the information allows me to see things differently. When I meet new people, I know that just because they don’t look like they are starving, they could be struggling, not even with food insecurity, but with anything. You never know what people are dealing with.
What message do you hope to send with the upcoming release of your song about food insecurity?
CC Miles: I feel that movies and TV portray food insecurity in a way where a child feels abandoned and the parent is the bad guy, but I’ve learned that usually food insecurity comes and goes in waves when a family member loses a job, or there is suddenly a big unexpected expense. I hope to spread the message that food insecurity is not just common in broken families, but also loving families that are just going through a rough time. Just because a family may be going through a rough patch and struggling financially, that does not mean that they aren’t trying the best to get back on their feet.
Giavanna Troilo is a junior Communication Studies student at Rider University. On campus, she is a Bonner Community Scholar, a Resident Assistant and she writes for The Rider News, the university newspaper. She studies English and completes design work for several campus organizations.