Christina Aguilera is known for her powerhouse pipes, but the pop star’s latest project highlights her big heart.
“It is unacceptable that people in this day and age struggle to have a basic need like food,” the singer, 34, tells PEOPLE of her longtime efforts to end world hunger. “That is why my work is even more important. This is an issue that can be solved in our lifetimes.”
Aguilera, the global spokesperson for Yum! Brands’ World Hunger Relief Effort since 2009, has traveled around the globe on “life-changing” trips to feed children. Now she’s giving a voice to poverty-stricken youth in a new public service announcement. Released Thursday, the video features footage of Aguilera’s emotional trip to Ecuador in September.
“I wanted this trip to feel personal, and since I am half Ecuadorian, I wanted to connect with these children that are literally my blood line,” she says. “It meant a lot to me to make that connection and to tell my children about this trip when they are older.”
The Voice judge tells PEOPLE her experience has shaped how she will raise her kids, Max, 7, and Summer Rain, 14 months.
“I want my children, Max and Summer, to always appreciate our good fortune and understand we have a role in helping our fellow citizens around the world with the basic need of food,” she says.
Aguilera has also learned about the struggles other parents face.
“I visited a refugee family’s home, where five people lived in a very small single room with no running water,” she says. “They fled their home country of Columbia because they feared for their safety after a family member was murdered. The parents sell water and watermelon on the streets to make a few dollars a day and are thankful for the nutritious food provided by the [United Nations World Food Programme].”
Previous trips have taken her to Rwanda, Haiti and Guatemala, but she was still surprised by the situation in Ecuador.
“Almost 40 percent of children under 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition and nearly 40 percent of the entire population lives in poverty,” the singer notes. “These are stats I hope to change with our work there.”
To learn more about her efforts and how you can make a difference, visit HungertoHope.com.
•Reporting by SARAH MICHAUD