Friday, December 27, 2013

FEED Projects: Beyond the Bag

Today I wanted to take a brief break from cake to bring awareness to a cause near and dear to my heart, childhood health and hunger. This may seem a little out of the ordinary coming from someone who literally eats dessert for a living, but the opportunities afforded to me in my career are exactly what have brought this important issue to light for me.  After working in a 5 Star 5 Diamond restaurant in the middle of a food dessert for the past four months, it definitely got me thinking about the amount of waste that occurs in my industry and how many people there are in the U.S. who live without affordable access to a fully stocked grocery store. I live 25 minutes by car away from the nearest store that participates in WIC, food stamps and other government welfare programs. The nearest state funded food bank is a 45 minute drive away.

I think about food probably 75% of my thoughts throughout the day, but I have never worried about when and how I would get my next meal. I have a car, job and my health, but right now I live around a lot of people who don't have any of the three. It makes eating, period a difficulty. It makes eating healthy nearly impossible. The kids who were born into these circumstances go to school hungry and can't focus or learn. We all depend on them for a better future, but they depend on us for even the most basic of needs. Because all kids in the U.S. are legally supposed to attend school, school feeding is the most effective way to tackle the problem.

My goal this winter season was to be as local as possible and support a charity that does more than pump money into an endless system, but actually provides a positive, tangible result from my donation. The upsetting thing that I found was that there wasn't a local foundation (focused on children) that was organized and established sufficiently in the community. That's an ongoing project for the future. This year I'm starting small and taking a baby step by supporting this excellent foundation started by Laura Bush, FEED Projects.

Photo source:

What I loved about this organization is that in return for your donation they send you a bag (designed by Laura) that becomes an advertisement for their cause as you carry it around. With your purchase they provide you with the number of how many school lunches you are providing and where your money is going. I bought products that all benefited the United States school system and gave them as Christmas presents to my family members. You can also choose to support other countries such as Guatemala, India, Kenya or Haiti. The small but mighty organization works with larger partners as well like the UN World Food Programme and UNICEF. Here's some food for thought from the FEED Projects website:
  • Hunger is No. 1 on the list of the world's top 10 health risks*
  • 1 in 7 people go to bed hungry every night*
  • Hunger and malnutrition kill more people than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined*
  • 65% of the world's hungry live in only 7 countries around the world*

* World Food Programme's Facts Blast; November 2010

The bags I got in return for my donation:

 A wine bag- pushing it, maybe. Loving it, definitely.

For my book nerd sister, this one also partners with Room to Read, an organization dedicated to improving childhood literacy. In addition to school meals, this donation also sends books.

 This was the original bag designed for the foundation and its purchase provides ten school meals.

You might also see FEED products in retail stores like Gap, Target and Whole Foods but as with any donation through a secondary source, double check what percentage of your purchase actually makes it to the foundation if that is important to you. 

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