Actress Viola Davis grew up so poor she was ashamed to invite friends to her home, because she lived in a condemned building, surrounded by rodents.

The Doubt star has only recently started opening up about her impoverished childhood in Rhode Island after becoming a leading name in America's war on hunger.

As an ambassador for both the Safeway Foundation and the Entertainment Industry Foundation, the Oscar nominee is spearheading a new campaign to raise awareness and funds to fight childhood hunger.

And she insists she knows exactly how some of these desperate kids feel.

Davis tells People magazine, "I was one of those kids who grew up hungry. I'm 48 years old now, and it's only been recently that I can admit that I would jump in trash bins looking for food and I would steal from the corner store because I was hungry... We had nothing."

And Davis admits that her living conditions in Central Falls were awful: "My house was a condemned building. It was boarded up and infested with rats."

The actress reveals her charity efforts have helped her come to terms with her impoverished past: "It's been cathartic for me because I always had a lot of shame with going in the garbage dumps that had maggots in it. It has brought healing in my life to be able to talk about it."