No Kid Hungry: 14 Days, 14 Ways

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Every time I see or read a news clip, post or tweet about what’s happening in the Philippines, one of the first thoughts to pop up is, “How are these organizations doing it?” I think about the recent refugee crisis in Syria, and wonder how the world’s relief agencies are going to be able to meet the nutritional needs of all the Filipinos who barely survived. It’s an unfathomable burden that requires “a village” — aka you and me.

Because along with the hundreds of thousands of displaced persons across the globe, we have many, many hungry families here in our own country, who are having equal difficulties obtaining food. Hunger continues to be one of the world’s most pressing issues. It’s hard to make sense of it, or to visualize an end. But in a country where food is practically recreation, it feels unacceptable that so many go without. If you’re not fully aware of what the real story is regarding hunger, particularly in kids, a visit to NoKidHungry.org will open your eyes. My fellow Pennsylvanians can also get a local perspective via Coalition Against Hunger. Skimming this PDF addressing the state of hunger in PA, it’s hard to overlook the big numbers…

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I don’t expect all of us to share the same passion for the myriad issues on the world’s plate, but as a No Kid Hungry blogger—and someone whose motto has always been, “I love everything about food, except that too many people don’t have enough,”—it is my duty to get information to you that might inspire action.

No Kid Hungry needs you, and the families who won’t be worrying about the turkey being too dry, the cranberries too runny, the wine not pairing up just right… they need you too. Hopefully, somewhere in these links, you’ll discover a reason to join the conversation. Ready, set, go. You’ve got 14 days to #bethechange, and now you also have 14 Ways:

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1.   Learn about  The Problem

2.   Watch and share the Story of Hungry video with your friends and family — #changethestory

3.   Arouse your emotions: Read this year’s Go Orange for No Kid Hungry winning essay

4.  Arouse your tastebuds: Download Cooking Matters free (healthy) recipe app, follow @CookingMatters on Twitter and share recipes with friends and family

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Get the app… via Apple

5.   If you’re a business owner, find out if your company meets the criteria to join Share our Strength’s Cause Marketing Partner Program

6.   Join the Hunger Core, No Kid Hungry’s Monthly Giving Club

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7.   Inspire giving by reading and sharing No Kid Hungry success stories

8.   Get Social: Follow No Kid Hungry on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

9.   Make A Memorial Or Honor Gift In A Loved One’s Name

10. Watch “A Place at the Table”, a documentary about the state of hunger in the US., featuring Billy Shore and Jeff Bridges

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11. Give through your workplace

12. Find out how your local school serves breakfast

13. Save the Date for NKH’s Holiday Give-a-Thon, December 3 (in conjunction with #givingtuesday)

14. Start your own fundraiser

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Sweet Smell of (hunger advocacy) Success

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In the better late than never category, I’d like to send out a not-so-gentle reminder on behalf of No Kid Hungry and Share our Strength.

…In just 10 days, this in-constant-action organization will wrap up its October initiative, spurred by two very generous “sugar daddies,” Domino Sugar and C&H Sugar.

Of course, I mean this is in the most positive interpretation of the colloquialism, because these two food industry superpowers have offered a dollar-for-dollar match on October’s Bake Sale No Kid Hungry proceeds.

If  you’ve been itching to get your baking on, NOW is the time to grease those pans, melt that butter and cover the counter in flour. (It’s a good excuse for your kids to make a mess without being scolded too!)

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Want to make a stand against hunger? A neighborhood or community bake sale is an effective—and tasty—way to get involved and make a positive impact.

The No Kid Hungry team is happy to receive your Bake Sale contributions all year long, but the promise of matching funds is irresistible—apparently to bakers across the country, who have raised $75,000-plus since October 1. Talk about “sweetening the pot;” at minimum now, a total value of $150,000. This is a big deal at a time when families are facing SNAP cuts along with a generally unstable economic foundation.

Whipping up a bake sale is easier than you think: With one weekend between now and October 31, and plenty of football, soccer and fall ball games happening at parks and schools across the country, you’ve got a captive audience. And, who wouldn’t want to bite into one (or three) of these tasty cupcakes (or these and these!). Click here for a gluten-free option. 

Spreading the word and showing support for food-challenged families through an old-fashioned bake sale is an affordable and fun way to get your community talking about hunger. Having that time and effort rewarded with a matching gift, is the icing on the cake.

Happy Baking!

Dine, twEAT, Beat (hunger)

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Raise your hand if earlier this weekend, you and your friends swapped tales of your culinary adventures, shared food photos or plotted lunch or dinner “out” sometime over the next few days.

I hope there are a lot of hands up in the air, because this coming week is the tipping point for Share our Strength’s Dine Out for No Kid Hungry campaign and your pending plans might have you sitting at a table in a participating restaurant. If you’re still pondering your destination, this link can point you toward several local eateries where your dining dollars will make a difference.

Why do I care so much? The answer is simple: I can’t recall a time in my life when healthy, non-processed and flavorful meals were in scarce supply.

I’ve never had to worry where my next meal was coming from, or whether it was coming at all. My learning and energy level never suffered from a lack of nutrition, and the only days spent without food were due to illness or being too busy. Not eating has always been a choice. Advocating against hunger is also a choice.

Hunger is the single biggest solvable problem facing the world today.   

Looking back, I thank my grandmother, who lived a part of her life during the Depression, for keeping my siblings and cousins well-fed, and for teaching us an appreciation for food and cooking. Her stove- and pantry-side lessons, particularly how to preserve, stretch and substitute ingredients (tuna meatballs, anyone?) in leaner times, were pointed: Make the most of groceries, and avoid food waste whenever possible. Most importantly, be grateful for every bite.

As kids, we didn’t realize then, how lucky we were to have these lessons handed down. Or, to never experience the type of hunger we hear about today, and that in our youthful ignorance, we didn’t know existed to such a debilitating degree. Hunger has been a storyline since the beginning of time, and despite enormous gains in manufacturing and commerce, in 2013 global hunger statistics are still staggering. Here is what that looks like in the U.S.

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Without starting from scratch and teaching kids—who don’t have a role model to guide them through all the aspects of putting a healthy meal on the table (shopping, preparing, storing)—hunger will be difficult to resolve in the near future. Without providing education and job opportunities for people of all income levels, who can and want to work, hunger will linger.

Here in Philadelphia, a city that boasts a vibrant dining scene and has multiple just-for-fun food events each year—some to benefit hunger advocacy—the food insecurity rate is 22% (adults and children). A neighborhood just outside one of its wealthiest neighborhoods (in PA’s First Congressional District) became famous for being the second “hungriest” in the country.

This is unacceptable. In Philadelphia, or anywhere.

Kids are the hardest hit: They have no control over the economic factors that hinder their parents ability to pay for quality groceries. Beyond kids and teens, though, is a broader problem: Nutrition equality has become devalued. The disparity between haves and have nots is skewed in a world where food is entertainment, and the technology of transportation, irrigation and farming is more advanced than ever. There’s a missing link, and though organizations around the world are working tirelessly to make a difference, hunger exists all around us.

Society is being impacted on a critical level: People who are hungry cannot sustain daily responsibilities because they’re depleted cognitively and physically. Children cannot grow and learn and play. But you, and I, can do something about it—with a little help from No Kid Hungry. The first steps are awareness, appreciation and action. Here are some of things happening this week:

  • A second round of SNAP (food stamps) cuts are pending. (The first reduced monthly allocations by $36 for a family of four, a loss of 20+ meals each month). This additional $40 billion cut will leave approximately 4-6 million people without support, and 200,000-plus kids without access to free school meals. 

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  • Monday, Sept. 16 is No Kid Hungry’s twEAT out for Hunger, a social media blitz designed to drive consumers to Dine Out for No Kid Hungry at their local restaurant. This is a coast-to-coast event with more than 8,000 restaurants participating. “Dine Out” runs all month, but the big push for action is 9/16-9/21. You can help by sharing tweets, and making reservations—a lot.
  • Make some noise: NKH’s Thunderclap will collectively bring attention to the cause by sharing a simultaneously transmitted message. This will put the public, and social media, to the test. 

Want to learn more? Explore NoKidHungry.com to further educate yourself on the realities of childhood hunger in the U.S. and about other ways you, your family and your friends can contribute. As you’ll quickly glean from the Amazing Stories page, “every dollar counts.” 

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new blogging creds

ShopMoxie:

I was thrilled to receive a very supportive and enthusiastic email from ShopMoxie founder Tom Tovar regarding the site’s Bloggers Get Local Program and (cartwheels) my joining on as a blogger. I was particularly excited because he said some very nice things about my writing, my past experience, and was surprisingly kind about my just starting a new blog (this one!) and not having all the appropriate rankings.

Probably what impressed me the most, was that he took the time to review the writing samples that I’d sent, and my social media sites for background information. Another fellow blogger received a similarly thoughtful email, and expressed sentiments much like mine. When you’re sending things out into cyberspace, it’s very hard to know if and how they’re being received when there’s no reply. The time I spent compiling information was well worth the effort, and I may be one of the lead-off guest bloggers on top of the shop local component.

Small stuff to some, but since I recently decided to see what I could make happen in the blogging universe, this is a great start.

No Kid Hungry:

I also recently became part of the No Kid Hungry/Share our Strength blogger team, and this is equally exciting. I am very serious about my commitment to helping end hunger locally and globally, and it is an honor to be associated with a renown and hardworking organization that is hell-bent on making change happen around the world. So far, I have been a better tweeter than a blogger for the cause, but I’ve only just gotten started. Stay tuned. Oh, and check out my cool badge on the sidebar menu—proudly displayed.

welcome to my latest project