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Archive for : Hunger & Food Access

Inspire A Different Kind of High Holiday Service with Repair the World

Summer is in full swing, which means that September – and the High Holidays – are coming up fast. The extended season between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is a time to look inward and focus on personal reflection and repentance. But it can also be a time to look outward to the world and make a difference.

This year, Repair the World will be thinking about service a little differently during the High Holidays – and we invite you to join us in spreading the message! As part of Hunger Action Month (which also happens to fall in September), we are building a movement of volunteers to raise awareness about food justice, while fostering stronger local food systems, self-reliant communities, and a healthier environment.

That’s where YOU come in! We are looking for passionate individuals and organizations to lead the charge in building this movement. Working together with Repair the world, movement leaders will help organize food justice volunteer opportunities between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (September 13- 23, 2015), host a Turn the Tables dinner, and, most importantly, help Inspire Service.

Think you’ve got what it takes to spark a movement? Sign up to become a Repair the World Movement Leader, and create meaningful opportunities for service for yourself, your friends, and your wider community. Or, do you want to participate as a volunteer? Sign up here and help us build something big!

Repair Inspiration: Just Say No to Food Waste

When it comes to food in America, two things are clear: we love it and we love to waste it. Each year, American families waste an average of 25% of the food that they buy. That includes the carrot tops, bread ends, and other scraps not used while cooking, and the leftovers that go bad in the fridge before they get eaten. And this number does not even account for the tens of thousands of pounds of food thrown away each year by restaurants and other food service companies.

Now, two very different entities – a chef and a city government – are trying to change that. In Seattle, a new composting law slaps households that do not adequately compost their leftover food with a fine and red tag on their garbage cans. Meanwhile, in New York City, the innovative chef, Dan Barber, (of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns), is working on a high profile, temporary pop up restaurant where every dish will be made from leftovers – stems, peels, bones, and the like. The clever name for the pop up? WastED.

The New York Times reported about both of these compelling stories. Check out the excerpts below and read the whole articles at their website.

Starve a Landfill
By: Kim Severson

“SEATTLE — The nation’s first citywide composting program based largely on shame began here in January. City sanitation workers who find garbage cans filled with aging lettuce, leftover pizza or even the box it came in are slapping on bright red tags to inform the offending household (and, presumably, the whole neighborhood) that the city’s new composting law has been violated.

San Francisco may have been the first city to make its citizens compost food, but Seattle is the first to punish people with a fine if they don’t. In a country that loses about 31 percent of its food to waste, policies like Seattle’s are driven by environmental, social and economic pressure.

But mandated composting reflects a deeper shift in the mood of the nation’s cooks, one in which wasting food is unfashionable. Running an efficient kitchen — where bruised fruit is blended into smoothies, carrot tops are pulsed into pesto, and a juicy pork shoulder can move seamlessly from Sunday supper to Monday’s carnitas to a rich pot of broth for the freezer — is becoming as satisfying as the food itself.” Read more.

Chef Lineup Announced for Dan Barber’s Food Waste Pop-Up, Wasted
By: Florence Fabricant

“A high-profile experiment in wasting nothing will start on March 13 at Dan Barber’s Blue Hill restaurant in Greenwich Village. That’s when the restaurant will turn into a pop-up called wastED, to run through the end of the month, with a menu of dishes devised from leftovers like stems, peelings, rinds and bones, by a roster of guest chefs who will change each evening.” Read more.

Jumpstart These Thanksgiving Hunger Projects

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, now is a great time to begin taking stock in what we are thankful for. But it’s also a time to help others build their own moments of thankfulness. This month, in our ongoing crowdsource funding series, we scouted some great, Thanksgiving-related projects that are currently campaigning for support. Some are related to the holiday specifically, while others focus on food and hunger. We don’t know the people involved in these projects personally, but we think the work they are doing is awesome. We hope you do too!

Thanksgiving Turkeys for Families Join Emmaus House – a faith based charity and community empowerment organization – in their annual quest to raise funds to purchase turkeys for 350 families in the Atlanta area.

Under the Sour Sun: Hunger Through the Eyes of a Child Help bring this book about a child’s struggle with poverty in El Salvador to a wider audience. And don’t forget to check out the video on the Kickstarter page for a short excerpt of the book, read by the author.

North County Food Bank Help this food bank in San Diego achieve its mission of providing services and feeding wholesome food to people and families in need.

Spotlight On: The 4 Liter Challenge

Showers, watering the plants, cooking, cleaning, drinking during a run – we use water in countless ways every day. In fact, each American uses an average of 100 gallons every single day. (Yes, 100!) But if you were challenged, could you make do with less? Like, a lot less?

That is the question posed by DIGDEEP – a water conservation and advocacy organization based in California. Their challenge? Live on just 4 liters (a little over 1 gallon) of water for 24 hours. Why 4 liters? It’s the same amount of water that nearly a billion people in the world survive on each day.

Think you can do it? Sign up to take the challenge. (With the water and rain-focused holiday of Sukkot just behind us, now is the perfect time!) While you’re at it, you can let your friends and family know what you’re up to, learn more about countries’ water needs, track your challenge, and raise funds to help DIGDEEP build sustainable water projects in the communities across the world that need it most.

Find out more by watching the video below, then dive in!

Repair Interview: Julie Bender for the Thanksgiving Project

When Jill Smokler founded Scary Mommy – a blog that chronicled her experiences as a stay-at-home mom in Baltimore, she had no idea that it would grow into a massive online community of parents. She also didn’t realize what a huge impact the site could have. But in 2011, a brave comment from a parent about her struggles to afford Thanksgiving dinner morphed into something big: The Scary Mommy Thanksgiving Project.

Today, the site enables thousands of people to donate money to provide a Thanksgiving meal to a family in need, and build community along the way. Recently, Julie Bender, Executive Director of the related non-profit, Scary Mommy Nation, took some time to tell Repair the World more about The Thanksgiving Project, its impact, and how you can get involved.

1. What was the inspiration behind The Thanksgiving Project?
The Thanksgiving Project came about in 2011. One of the unique things about Scary Mommy is that we encourage moms to share both the up sides and down sides of parenting. This makes for funny, honest, and inclusive dialogue among moms, regardless of their differences. One part of the Scary Mommy community is a Confessional, where moms can share comments anonymously without worrying about being personally judged by other members.

Jill Smokler, aka Scary Mommy, recognized a trend on the Confessional of moms who were having trouble putting food on the table, let alone a holiday dinner. She did some research and discovered that the average Thanksgiving meal cost approximately $50 for a family of 10. Jill decided to provide $50 grocery gift cards for 2 families and asked any community members who were able to give just $25 and she would match them up and give the gift card to a family in need. The response was overwhelming. In 2011, Scary Mommy community members provided 400 families with a Thanksgiving meal they would have otherwise gone without. And Scary Mommy Nation, a 501c3 non profit, was born. Last year, The Thanksgiving Project helped close to 3,000 families and this year we have helped over 1,100 families and have over 1,000 families on the waiting list currently.

2. Can you share a story that demonstrates the project’s impact?
The stories Scary Mommy gets from the applicants are often heartbreaking and inspirational at the same time. These are families who have experienced so many challenges but still appreciate the generosity of strangers providing them with a Thanksgiving meal. Here is one example:

“I am a single mother to three amazing children, ages 8, 10 and 12. I have asked my oldest not to mention Thanksgiving multiple times in the past few weeks because its another day I know food will be a stretch to provide or promise. She loves to help cook and it pains me to face another unknown. I have been struggling with health issues for several years, and I have gone without food more often than not so my children eat. I was losing hope and literally prayed through tears last night, ” God, could you please give us a Happy Thanksgiving” I can promise you we will deeply appreciate this gift card and be grateful for every bite. I truly believe you and your donors are gently unveiling the shame and tragedy of hunger in our nation. I have felt hopeless and alone as others undoubtedly do, but am lifted up by the kindness of this precious gift.

I just read your email informing me of being chosen to receive a Thanksgiving gift card. I am totally in tears writing to thank you from the deepest part of my heart. Today was an especially hard day, and this good news has truly touched and overtaken me. I am so very thankful to be chosen and receive this help. I can now know in advance we will have food and a Thanksgiving meal. I know you are helping myself and the other recipients beyond just the food. You are helping us all have some hope, some strength, relieve a little of the stress, to feel some peace and for that we are all so deeply grateful.”

3. How has it helped to build community – within the Scary Mommy network and beyond?
One of the things that is so great about The Thanksgiving Project is that it helps families that are part of the Scary Mommy community. These are moms who may be on Facebook or the blog and no one has any idea how much they are struggling to feed their families. The project isn’t necessarily helping people who are homeless or receiving food stamps (although some certainly are) but rather people who could be in your circle of friends and for whatever reason (illness, divorce, recently laid off or spouse serving overseas) have fallen on hard times. This gift enables them to celebrate a holiday that would most likely have been another night of eating cereal or noodles. The luxury of a special meal isn’t easy to come by when bills aren’t being paid.

Another unique aspect of The Thanksgiving Project is that each donor, whether they give $10 or $1000, receives personal information on the family or families whose Thanksgiving meal they have provided. This personal connection between donor and recipient has led to relationships being formed between the families and holiday and birthday gifts being donated as well. Members of the Scary Mommy community live all over the country and come from every religious, racial and socio-economic background. Scary Mommy and The Thanksgiving Project connects every member in such a deep and meaningful way, because at the end of the day, we all want our children to be cared for and safe. And what better way to ensure that happens than by lifting each other up in times of need?

4. What is the best way for people to get involved?
The best way to become involved with The Scary Mommy Thanksgiving Project is to go to www.scarymommy.com and donate whatever you are able to a family in need. Checks can also be sent to Scary Mommy Nation P.O. Box 20866 Baltimore, MD 21209. You will receive personal information on the family whose Thanksgiving dream you’ve made a reality. As Mother Teresa so eloquently said “If you can’t feed a hundred, then feed just one.”

In addition, you can also spread the word about The Thanksgiving Project in your community and on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. If you own a business and make a tax-deductible contribution, we have opportunities to showcase your company on Scary Mommy to our over 1 million followers.

Awesome Sukkot Events, 2014

This year, Sukkot begins on Wednesday, October 8, at sundown. It brings with it a focus on harvest, hospitality, the gift of shelter, and an abundance of good food. Meanwhile, when it comes to connecting to social issues like hunger, sustainability, and housing rights, Sukkot is ripe (pun intended!) with possibility.

Each year, congregations and communities around the country find ways to make those connections explicit. Join in the fun by checking out one of these creative and inspiring Sukkot events:

Sharing the Faith – Sukkot
October 10 and 15, Chicago
Join the Niagara Foundation in exploring Sukkot, while offering interfaith educational opportunities. From a Shabbat service, to a conversation about homelessness on Sukkot, it promises to be a worthwhile event.

Eat, Pray, Lulav: A Sukkot Harvest Festival
October 12, Berkeley, CA
Join Urban Adamah for their fourth annual harvest festival complete with opportunities to harvest fall crops, build a cob oven, take a farm tour, and enjoy live music. Bring a canned food item to donate.

Aztec-Jewish Harvest Festival at Proyecto Jardin
October 12, Los Angeles, CA
The congregation IKAR and their urban sustainable garden partner, Proyecto Jardin, are teaming up for a unique, cross-cultural Sukkot event.

Hazon Jewish Food Festival
October 12, Encitas, CA
Spend Sukkot on an honest-to-goodness Jewish ranch, and join nutritionists, chefs, farmers, rabbis, educators, and food enthusiasts in celebration of the values of the Jewish Food Movement.

Sukkot Harvest Celebration
October 14, Boston, MA
Celebrate Sukkot with the Jewish garden, Ganei Beantown, The Riverway Project and the Moishe Kavod House in Temple Israel’s organic vegetable garden and sukkah. Prepare a meal together, learn Torah, and join in an open mic.

Repair Inspiration: Turning Swimming Pools Into Backyard Farms

With Labor Day come and gone, summer might be past it’s peak, but our minds are still on swimming – or swimming pools, rather! We’re particularly intrigued by this story on Co.Exist about how some folks are transforming their backyard swimming pools into super-productive gardens filled with vegetables, a chicken coop, and even a tilapia fish farm!

Check out the excerpt below, then get the full scoop – and check out the truly awe-inspiring video – over at Co.Exist’s website:

“In the hot summer months, it might be a shame to use a swimming pool for anything other than splashing around in. But then turning your pool into a highly productive growing system is more practical. It’s also cheaper, overall.
Dennis and Danielle McClung pioneered the Growing Pool–a solar-powered aquaponic greenhouse–back in 2009, shortly after buying a foreclosed home in Mesa, Arizona. They didn’t want to spend time and money doing up the eyesore in the backlot. And, besides, they’d always wanted to be more self-sufficient.

Since then, a host of imitators have come up with their own Garden Pools, based onhow-to instructions the McClungs have posted online. Actually, it doesn’t seem that difficult. First, you surround the perimeter with a metal frame and add poles to support a plastic covering. Then, you mount some solar panels to run the water pumps. Then, you put in a chicken coop, tilapia fish (in the deep end) and some plants.

The idea is that chicken waste falls into the tank, which feeds the fish. The fish provide nutrient-rich water, which is pumped to the plants, which grow and feed the McClungs. The whole system uses a fraction of the water employed for soil-based growing–one of the main attractions of aquaponics.”

Read the full story…