Back in January I was fortunate enough to fly south, not for the winter, but to go meet some amazing people in Dallas and learn about the Cooking Matters program. (Free cooking classes that teachers people who have never learned to cook how to cook healthy meals on a budget. Brilliant.)
After a whirlwind 24 hours of touring the Dallas Foodbank, attending a Cooking Matters class for kids, and meeting a bunch of adorable children, I plopped myself down in my airplane seat, fully determined to sleep a bit before being thrown back into my usually hectic life.
Instead I started chatting with the nice lady sitting next to me.
What can I say, I'm a sucker for nice chatty people...
After she told me why she was flying to California (visit with the step-grandchildren) she asked me what I'd been doing in Dallas. Full of my intense learning experience I shared, and shared some more.
"Did you know that 1 in 3 children in Dallas goes to bed hungry at night?"
She stared at me, shock registering in her eyes, then doubt, and finally that look people get when they've contemplated an issue and dismissed it as someone else's problem.
"Well, yes, but it's those children," her voice dipped, "down by the border." She nodded knowingly, face full of self-righteous pity.
"No, it's not the immigrant children. It's the kids in your neighborhood."I corrected her as gently as I could after I recovered my voice.
I went on to explain how the face of hunger has changed over the last two years. How people in nice neighborhoods have to forgo food in order to meet mortgage payments or car payments. How they don't qualify for state or federal services because they have cars, and incomes, and other nice things that make it seem like they're doing just fine.
I'm not sure she listened or believed me. She went on to describe the decor in their new beach house, but her words stayed with me. There's a growing hunger problem in this country because we're all convinced that it's someone else's problem.
I have news for you.
This morning, at school drop off, you saw families who are struggling to make ends meet. Their children might not get dinner tonight. Yes, you. Even if you go to a fancy school in a fancy neighborhood.
I have more news for you.
You can help.
You can call your school and see if there's any way to donate money for food for families in need.
You can call your local foodbank to see what you can do.
You can post signs at your local agencies offering to help people read and understand the endless paperwork that has to be filled out to obtain services.
You can get your children involved in running food drives or hosting bake-sales.
You can attend a Cooking Matters class to see what it's about and learn how you can help.
How would you help?
How would you feel if what you did meant one more child had dinner tonight?
Let me a comment below and you'll be entered to win a neat ConAgra Foods Foundation/Cooking Matters gift pack.
But really, it's the kids who'll be winning if you help me spread the word and gain awareness for this incredibly pressing and real issue taking place in our back-yards.
Giveaway winner will be drawn on Thursday, March 31st at 10pm PST. Comment as many times as you want with original ideas!
The ConAgra Foods Foundation flew me to Dallas and put me up overnight so I could learn as much as possible about the program while I was there. I'm also being compensated for my time. That said, I'm passionate about this cause and I'll keep raising the roof even when the money runs out.