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Hunger is right here, and you can do something about it

standard March 15, 2011 15 responses

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. 
You can…

Your turn:
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.

One successful rally later…

standard May 12, 2010 3 responses

Saturday dawned beautiful.Or at least it was bright and sunny when I rolled out of bed at 9. I still wasn’t deluding myself; there was no way it would be warm enough for us to hold the big ConAgra Foods Child Hunger Ends Here Backyard Movie Night Rally actually in the backyard. By sundown it would be so cold outside we’d all need jackets and blankets to keep warm.

Sadly our back-up plan involved our living room which hadn’t seen a thorough cleaning in way longer than I’m willing to admit here.

As we swept, steamed, polished, dusted, and cleaned everything in sight I wondered if anyone would show at all. It would have been fine if they hadn’t, we would have had a clean house and some food donated before the event, but, you know, a girl worries about these things.

The time drew near and I spotted Grace‘s tweet that she was coming as soon as she was done going through her pantry. No sooner had I read that than the first guest was knocking on the door.

Gorgeous sign hanging over the door.

Four families came and sat with us in our transformed living room to watch Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. We ordered pizza, made buckets of popcorn, and thoroughly enjoyed watching the movie on a big screen. Well, most everyone enjoyed the movie. I might have hung out in the kitchen with some of the moms, drinking wine, and chatting about everything and anything.

And now I have to make a confession. In a complete and utter Blogger Fail moment, I completely and utterly forgot to take pictures during the event. I know! So you’ll just have to imagine little children, faces covered in pizza sauce and popcorn crumbs, absorbed by the movie and parents drinking wine and having a raucous good time. 

It was awesome. Everyone had fun, we collected a TON of food, 116lbs to be specific, and it felt great to be surrounded with wonderful people who really cared about a cause that is close to my heart.

Just a fraction of the donations!

Then this morning the girls and I headed to the Santa Clara Second Harvest Food Bank to bring everything that had been donated before and during the event.

 116lbs of donated food. That’s a LOT!
All in all this was an amazing experience that I hope to recreate in the not so distant future. We’ve already asked people to bring donations to C’s birthday party on Sunday. It makes me proud to be doing my part and to be teaching my children that it’s easy to do theirs too.
Plus, I still haven’t taken down the sign from above the door. Maybe I’ll just keep collecting food until I do. If the Halloween pumpkins are anything to go on, that could be some 9 months from now. Just think of how much we could collect in that time!

Enter the Child Hunger Ends Here giveaway… please?

standard April 20, 2010 2 responses

A few weeks ago I posted a long rambling post about the End Child Hunger rally that I’m hosting, my impending trip to LA, and a ConAgra Foods giveaway.

LA was awesome.

I’m working on changing up my rally plans because I can’t find a cooperative park to work with.

But!

But! The giveaway is still on! And you, my friend, have not entered yet.

So here’s your reminder.

I’m giving away this:

As well as some other fun assorted goodies like reusable grocery bags, coupons, and a few surprises.

All you have to do is go to THIS POST and before April 26 leave a comment, any comment, to enter to win. Come tell me how you’re fighting child hunger. Come tell me what you know about it, what makes you pause. Come talk about your own kids, or your neighbor’s kids. I want to hear it all.

A rally, a giveaway, and a trip to Wisteria Lane (for realz)

standard April 1, 2010 9 responses

I was originally thinking BIG. A fair. A race. A massive rummage sale. Something splashy that would draw huge crowds.

Then I realized that a) I just didn’t have the bandwidth or budget and b) it just wasn’t the point and it would detract from the true purpose of this project.

So I toned it down.

There are still a few details to be hammered out (Such as a location. Oops.), but my hope is to bring my “neighborhood” – the one that spreads all the way up the Bay Area from San Francisco to the South Bay – together on May 8th for a fun bake sale/park playdate/canned food drive.

Why May 8th? Easy. It’s the day before Mother’s Day and I want the mothers of the Bay Area to come together to feed the children of the Bay Area.

Why a bake sale? Because we all love sweets, but also because we want to bring some sweetness to kids who don’t get enough to eat.

Why a canned food drive? Well, that one is pretty self explanatory. But also because I have in my mind a vision of a mountain of cans. A mountain, because to fix this hunger issue in American we need to move some serious mountains.

I need to get all the details hammered out this week because next Tuesday I’m heading to LA for two days.

Why, you ask? Well, that’s easy. ConAgra Foods wants to kick off this massive Neighborhood Rally campaign in America’s most famous neighborhood – Wisteria Lane.

Squeeee.

Ahem.

Yes. I’m heading to LA to go on the set of Desperate Housewives, which would admittedly be more exciting if I ever watched the show. (Insert avid TV watching blogger hanging head in shame here.) The other Child Hunger Ends Here campaign bloggers and I are also going to the LA Food bank to volunteer for a few hours and visit the facility.  (Is it weird that I’m almost more excited about that?)

OK, I can’t take you with me, but I do have something for you my dear readers!

Leave me a comment here cheering me on, telling me how you are doing your part to end child hunger, or just to say hi and you will be entered to win a ConAgra Foods Gift Basket, containing among other things, a Desperate Housewives DVD (Just like being there with me!), a reusable grocery bag, ConAgra Foods coupons, and other goodies.

So go forth and comment! (Oh, and if you wanted to give me some Desperate Housewives key points I’d be eternally grateful. Thanks.) Giveaway winner will be chosen at random and announced on April 26th.

In the interest of full disclosure I have to tell you that I have been hired by ConAgra to spread the word about the Child Hunger Ends Here Neighborhood Rally campaign. I am being compensated for this work, but trust me, I’m going to earn every dime and feed as many children as possible doing it.