Scarlett Johansson opens up about food insecurity.
Feeding America/YouTube

Scarlett Johansson Shares Gratitude For Free School Lunch Programs In New PSA

“With those meals, my brother and I had the nourishment and energy to get through our day of learning and playing.”

Scarlett Johansson lives a fairly charmed life these days. She’s a highly sought-after actress and a mom of two. She has enough money to care for her family, perhaps even more than enough. But she has not forgotten what it was like to experience food insecurity as a little girl. In a new PSA for Feeding America, Johansson opened up about how her family relied on public assistance, including free school lunches, when she was growing up to keep everyone fed and how that assistance helped her thrive.

“Food isn’t just fuel to live — it’s fuel to grow,” Johansson explains in the PSA released on Wednesday. “My family relied on public assistance to help provide meals for us. These meals fueled my involvement in theater and the arts as a child, which fostered my love for acting.”

Johansson, who is mom to 9-year-old daughter Rose with ex-husband Romain Dauriac and 1-year-old son Cosmo with husband Colin Jost, also penned a personal essay for the nonprofit organization about how those free school lunches helped her family. “Now, as an adult, I have a tremendous amount of gratitude for those meals. My family relied on public assistance, and the meals I ate at school were part of the free school lunch program — which provides free breakfast and lunch to students from low-income families,” she shared. “With those meals, my brother and I had the nourishment and energy to get through our day of learning and playing, and do all the things healthy kids get to do. And that food supported my growth outside school, too.”

Johansson noted in an op-ed for USA Today that we need to take the blame off of parents’ shoulders when it comes to discussing food insecurity, writing that parents need to “know we are not criticizing your ability to protect your beautiful children, rather we are inspired by you and want each and all of you to know that we see you and we care.”  She added, “You are far from alone. Your allies are stretched across the country, siblings-in-arms, if you will.  And we are proud that we are among them.”

The reality is that one in eight children experience food insecurity in America, according to a 2021 study by Feeding America, which amounts to nearly 10 million children. Scarlett Johansson was one of them and it’s an issue she thinks about often now that she’s a parent herself.

“Now that I have children of my own, the first thing I worry about is making sure they are provided for and that they are fed and nourished,” Johansson wrote for Feeding America. “I can only imagine the relief my parents felt, knowing my siblings and I had access to meals at school. Every day, parents are there for their children — to celebrate their successes and support them on their journeys — and no parent should have to worry about where their children’s next meal is going to come from.”