Posts Tagged ‘ share our strength ’

Sweet Charity

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

No matter how health-conscious you are or what diet you’re on, there are times when you just can’t pass on dessert.

When it comes to Sandra Lee’s pineapple-passion-fruit cupcakes, Guy Fieri’s caramel apple bread pudding, and Buddy Valastro’s Italian butter cookies, I can’t think of a single reason to say no.

On May 1, I perused the World’s Largest Bake Sale at Grand Central Station, sampling sweets, meeting local bakers, but most importantly, learning about child hunger in America.

Sponsored by the Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, the bake sale raised both money for the cause and awareness for the more than 16 million children affected by hunger in America.

I chatted with of New York City’s best bakers and browsed their selection of champagne cupcakes, pistachio-cherry scones, and peanut-butter-strawberry-jam doughnuts. All sweets were sold for $5, the proceeds from which were put toward the campaign.

Bake sale host Sandra Lee whipped up her favorite strawberry shortcake and banana split cupcakes for the event, and spoke to me about the urgency of the child hunger epidemic.

“Some working moms are going home with one check, paying rent, and wondering how they are going to feed their kids. Sometimes they have to choose between paying bills and food,” she said. “It shouldn’t be that way in America.”

Buddy Valastro, the “Cake Boss,” said that as a baker and a father, he just had to be part of the event. He also shared with me a personal story about his family history.

“My dad grew up in Sicily and I remember him telling stories of going to bed hungry, after sharing one plate with his family,” he said. “It really puts life in perspective. This is about more than raising money, it’s about saying, ‘Hey, America, this is happening!’”

Ty Pennington, former host of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, expressed a personal connection to the cause and donated a colorful, handmade bake sale stand for the Share Our Strength Auction.

“I may not have a child of my own, per se, but it is staggering to hear that one in five kids goes hungry,” he said. “It really opens your eyes about not wasting as much and makes you think about what we can do to make sure they are fed.”

The Share Our Strength Auction for No Kid Hungry runs through May 31 and features items donated by food masters like Martha Stewart and Emeril Lagasse. This is your chance to take a class in the Cake Boss’s kitchen, dig in to Bobby Flay’s signature Southwestern dishes, or learn to swirl icing like New York’s iconic Magnolia Bakery.

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A (Phone) Call to Help Hungry Children

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

It’s tough to reason with my kids when they’re hungry. They can’t focus, and they melt down fast. This is what I was thinking last week when I attended a press briefing by Share Our Strength, the hunger organization that founded the No Kid Hungry campaign. No Kid Hungry, along with Deloitte, just released a study with some alarming facts about our country’s school breakfast program. Did you know that 21 million low-income children around the country eat a free (or reduced-price) lunch–but only about 11 million of those same kids eat school breakfast? And yet they come to their classroom each morning famished, and because of that, they may also be exhausted, irritable, anxious, and easily distracted. Makes you really feel for the students themselves, not to mention the teachers whose jobs are that much harder in those circumstances. Which leads me to another disturbing stat: More than 60 percent of K-8 public school teachers said they had children in their classrooms who regularly came to school hungry because there wasn’t enough to eat at home.

No Kid Hungry has among its supporters the actor Jeff Bridges, who has been fighting to end hunger for 30 years, in large part through his own organization, End Hunger Network. At last week’s event he posed this question: “We have to look into our own souls. What are we willing to do that’s not just a gesture that’ll scratch the guilt itch?”

Here’s one answer. The No Kid Hungry campaign has determined that lots more eligible kids can get school breakfast if the meal is offered in even slightly creative ways, like in the classroom itself instead of a cafeteria. (This reduces the shame some children feel when they have to leave the room to go get their food.) So, with funding from Deloitte, No Kid Hungry has created a crowdsourced online map that outlines how schools around the country serve breakfast. The more complete the map, the more ideas are shared, and the more likely it is that schools will find ways to give kids the meals they so desperately need.

And this is where you can come in. This week–in honor of National School Breakfast Week–you can call a school (or two or three), ask up to three simple questions about school breakfast, and report the findings directly into the map. I called the elementary school my older daughter will be attending next year, which I learned does not serve school breakfast. (Only about 13 percent of schools don’t, according to No Kid Hungry.) Now that’s reflected on the map. You’ll be walked through the process at It won’t take long–but it will make a big difference. The goal is to have info about 10,000 schools by March 31. Will you make a call today?



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The Most Unsettling Stat I’ve Heard All Year

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

One in two children will need food assistance in his lifetime.

That’s what Bill Shore, founder of Share Our Strength, says in the upcoming documentary “A Place At The Table,” which I was fortunate to see at a screening last night. Directed by Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush, the film will come out in March, and you’ll hear lots more about it then, from us and many others. It depicts the stark and heartwrenching realities of the hunger epidemic affecting nearly 50 million people in the United States. Of that number, 17 million are children, an issue we explored in depth last year, both in an article and in a mini-documentary featuring a young mom in Philadelphia who, despite all of her hard work, can’t always adequately feed her small children.

As “A Place at the Table” deftly shows, we can solve the hunger crisis—but it’s not simply by donating to food pantries or working in soup kitchens. Charity is vital, of course, but it can’t be the answer, argue those who know this subject best. We have enough money in our country to fix this problem, so we have to change our laws to ensure that proper funding goes to the most productive nutrition and assistance programs. And this is where we can all make a significant impact.

A very encouraging program called Food Policy Action just launched, and it provides a scorecard for politicians based on how they vote on food and nutrition legislation. Sign up for notifications here so you can find out when your own representative is about to vote on an issue—and then call that rep and tell him or her that you’re watching how he/she votes, and keeping it in mind when it’s time for re-election. Lori Silverbush said that lawmakers have confessed to changing their vote on a particular issue after as few as six calls from constituents, which is proof that your voice matters. Please use it—it’s never been made easier to stay informed and create change.

Of course, if you want to go the charitable route, there are many great ways to do it. One is to support this year’s Hungerthon. Created by WhyHunger, which sponsors innovative community-based hunger organizations nationwide, Hungerthon is a month-long radio event that raises awareness and funding to help end hunger. A portion of this is through a charity auction. Some of the coolest items you can bid on include a signed guitar from Taylor Swift and another from Carrie Underwood. Admittedly these are pricey items, so you might consider donating $50 and getting an awesome and exclusive Bruce Springsteen t-shirt featuring an outtake from the “Born To Run” photo shoot.

If your family is affected by hunger, please check out our list of resources that can help.



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Feel-Good Gift Ideas

Monday, December 19th, 2011

For the person on your list who already has everything, why not give them a gift that gives back by donating to a charity on their behalf. Here are a few we love.

88Bikes donates bicycles to children around the world who face hardships such as poverty and war. For $88, you can donate a bike in a friend’s name and make a child immeasurably happy. Read our story on the organization to find out just how huge of an impact a bike can have on a child’s life. lets you give to classrooms in need, to help make sure that kids have the essentials they need to learn and teachers have the tools required for teaching.

Share Our Strength aims to end childhood hunger in American by 2015. Your contribution will help ensure that families have access to food that’s healthy and affordable. And if you give by December 31, your tax-deductible gift will be matched, dollar for dollar.

What’s your favorite organization or charity to give to?


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