Chris Pratt Reveals His Family Relied on Food Banks Growing Up: 'Nothing Wrong with Needing That Help'

Chris Pratt is raising awareness about food insecurity across the country while reflecting on his own personal connection to the issue.

In an Instagram Live conversation with Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America, the Jurassic World actor opened up about his family sometimes relying on food banks while growing up in Lake Stevens, Washington. Pratt, 41, spoke about how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many people who are in need of steady, nutritious food.

"With a combination of this pandemic and the subsequent economic downturn, we're looking at food instability for families, the likes of which we haven't seen in a very long time in this country," he said, as Babineaux-Fontenot agreed.

Later in the chat, Pratt explained that while he's encouraging fans to support Feeding America and make donations if possible, it's also important for those who need help to reach out and seek assistance. Feeding America estimates that 40 percent of people seeking assistance during the pandemic have never done so before.

"I think a lot of time when we're illuminating this message and shining a light on this need, we're saying, 'How can we get people to help?' but it's important to de-stigmatize the idea that if you need help it's okay to accept it. It is," said the Guardians of the Galaxy star.

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"I grew up in a small town, we had 7,000 people in our town, and we had some economic hard times, and we had a food bank nearby and I'm not ashamed to say that there were moments when my family would need to eat from a food bank," he said. "There's no shame in it — especially right now with what we are going through. There is help out there, and you can find that help and get that help, and there's nothing wrong with needing that help."

"And if you are a person who doesn't need help, there's a great feeling in service of helping someone else. It's a great thing to do this holiday season," added Pratt.

The actor — who welcomed his second child, daughter Lyla Maria in August, and is also dad to son Jack, 8  — said "our country has a beautiful history of uniting through community … [and] each of us is a thread in that community and as strong as we can be, we're holding that fabric together."

"We're being called right now to do what we can," said Pratt.

Growing up in Lake Stevens, Pratt’s mother worked at a grocery store and his father, who died in 2014, was a gold miner who later worked in construction. He studied acting at a local community college for half a semester before dropping out, then trying a series of odd jobs. Pratt then became homeless while living off the land in Hawaii with a friend.

“It’s a pretty awesome place to be homeless,” Pratt told The Independent in 2014. “We just drank and smoked weed and worked minimal hours, just enough to cover gas, food and fishing supplies.”

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