Ashley Benson Wants All Little Kids To Have The Chances She Did

Photo: Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images.
Pretty Little Liars star Ashley Benson is teaming up with Unilever's Share A Meal program to end child hunger. Refinery29 asked her to share the story behind the partnership.

Maybe it’s because I come from a big extended family, but I’ve always loved taking care of others. You can ask anyone I worked with for the past six years on Pretty Little Liars. Daily, I strive to be the kind of person who brings a smile to someone else’s face, or who makes them laugh. When I see one of my cast mates or a crew member struggling, I always try to provide them with the support they may need. Ultimately, I want to provide others with the tools and necessities they need to live life to the fullest and follow their dreams.

Oftentimes, even the smallest acts of kindness can make a difference in someone’s life. Other actions, though, like providing a child with a much-needed meal, or helping to stock their family’s pantry, can have an even more lasting impact on their life. When I was a little kid, my biggest worries were whether I’d be able to memorize my dance routines or if I’d be chosen to perform a solo at church. I was always the one goofing off and reciting movies to my friends at recess. Every time I see a child in need, I want to do what I can in order to ensure their imagination and opportunities remain endless — like mine were — without having to face hurdles like hunger. Because, without enough food and the proper nutrients that come with it, the chances of a child reaching their full potential become virtually impossible.
Photo: Courtesy of Ashley Benson.
A throwback photo of Ashley at school, circa 1995.
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I was recently shocked to discover that right here in America, 1 in 6 children face hunger every day, and it’s often not identifiable — that child who is 1 in 6 may even live in your own neighborhood. That is unacceptable. Kids are our future, and we have to make sure they are taken care of. That’s why I believe it’s important for all of us to come together to solve the problem, and it’s why I’ve joined forces with the Share A Meal program to end child hunger.

This is the perfect time of year to help. Mealtimes around the holidays are always so memorable. When a family makes an amazing meal and comes together around the dinner table to enjoy it together and talk about life — those are the moments I enjoy most. Some of my fondest childhood memories are from Christmas mornings at my grandmother’s house, where she would make these amazing scrambled eggs with bacon, onions, and vegetables inside, and the most delicious sticky buns I’ve ever tasted. I can smell these foods now just thinking about them, and I'm always excited for them around the holidays. I want every child to be able to have similar memories with their families.

This, of course, is where all of you come in. You can use your childhood memories of the holidays to help others make memories of their own, simply by combining some of my favorite things: family meals and #throwback pics. The next time you post one of those photos that transports you back to childhood and holiday dinner times with family and friends, use the hashtag #ShareAMeal, and Unilever will donate a meal* to those in need. Now, there’s more reason than ever to #TBT (or share a throwback any other day), because each image you post can help feed a child in need, allowing them to live up to their full potential.


*Up to 1.6 million meals, until November 27; more info at brightfuture.unilever.us.