Archive for : hunger

On Cooking and Combatting Hunger with Michael Solomonv

Michael Solomonov is coming to Shabbat dinner in Pittsburgh.

On August 26th, the James Beard Award-winning chef of Modern-Israeli restaurants Zahav and Dizengoff (among other renowned eateries), will join Repair the World for an intimate dinner and conversation about cooking and combatting hunger.

Solomonov, who has supported numerous anti-hunger initiatives during his tenure as a chef, will be joined by a cross-section of nonprofit service partners, neighbors, lay leaders, and Repair the World Fellows, along with members of the local community. (Ahem, that could mean you! See below for details.)

The event is part of Pittsburgh’s Three Day Blow, an innovative festival that brings together food writers and food makers for a celebration of regional food and literature. Pittsburgh is one of Repair the World’s flagship cities, and the Shabbat dinner will highlight both the connections we make around the table, and the importance of working towards a just food system – within the city, and beyond.

The meal will be prepared by local Pittsburgh chef, Bill Fuller, who’s vegetarian menu will include late-summer inspired dishes like heirloom tomato salad with grilled corn, creamy polenta with a spicy marinara, and peach cobbler with blueberry ice cream. (Yum!) And the meal is open to the public! Email Sam Permutt ([email protected]) for more information and to reserve your seat at the table.

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: Refrigerators That Don’t Need Electricity

Refrigerators – those blessed, buzzing boxes that keep our ice cubes frozen, our milk unspoiled, and our vegetables crisp – are serious energy hogs. In most homes, they use up more energy than any other appliance, and lead to unintended food waste. Meanwhile, in countries where energy is scarce, the lack of refrigeration can also lead to food waste.

According to an article (and awesome slideshow) on Co.Exist, it doesn’t have to be that way. Check out the excerpt below about a clay fridge by a company called MittiCool that does not require electricity, and read the whole thing on Co.Exist’s website:

Clay Fridges That Keep Food Cool Without Electricity
By: Ben Schiller

According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the world wastes an astonishing 1.4 billion tons of food a year. This while plenty of people are still starving, and while many countries spend large percentages of their income to feed themselves.

Reasons for food waste differ from developed to developing worlds. In rich countries, it’s usually the food consumers who are responsible–i.e. people just throwing away excess food that they haven’t eaten or that spoiled before they could. In poorer nations, the problem tends to be in the supply chain. Because of poor refrigeration, food rots during transport or spoils at market stalls because it’s not sold quickly enough.

Made from clay and not needing any power to run, it keeps vegetables fresh for up to a week and can even store dairy, according to Mansukhbhai Prajapati, its Indian inventor.

The fridge is made of a porous type of clay from Gujarat, the region in India where Prajapati has his workshop. You feed water into a 5 gallon holding tank at the top and it gradually drips down through the material. On a warm day, the water evaporates, cooling the clay and leaving the contents inside relatively cold. Prajapati says the fridge is eight degrees Celsius less warm than room temperature.

“The fridge is not harmful for our health. It’s totally eco-friendly. And there is no maintenance like other refrigerators,” Prajapati points out. It’s also relatively cheap. Models cost about $50.

Read more…

Repair Inspiration: Masbia Soup Kitchen

Since 2005, Masbia – a soup kitchen in Brooklyn – has been providing hot, nutritious, kosher meals for Jewish families in need and the broader community. In the last year alone, they provided more than 800,000 meals, engaging hundreds of regular and one-time volunteers along the way.

Recently, Masbia got some much deserved love from NationSwell. They write: “Dignified surroundings, and healthy, comforting meals, raise Masbia above the standard, a welcome reminder that seeking help with food doesn’t have to be a gloomy affair.”

Check out their video, and meet their awesome chef, below, then read the whole article over at Nation Swell.

Want to help? Sign up for a volunteer shift or make a donation to support Masbia’s work.

Hunger on the High Holidays, and How You Can Help

It’s hard to imagine Rosh Hashanah without sweet apples and honey, or a Yom Kippur break fast without savory bagels and lox. But for too many families, these foods won’t make it to the table.

Today, more than 50 million Americans and almost 25% of all Israelis experience hunger, or live right on the edge of being unable to feed themselves or their families. Dealing with hunger is a year-round struggle, but can feel especially painful on holidays like Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur, which highlight what can feel like a luxurious time for reflection and bringing people together around a festive meal or a break fast. We sometimes take for granted the ability to fast on Yom Kippur.

The high holidays give us time for introspection and tshuvah (repentance) as we aim to enter the new year with open hearts and strong relationships. They also offer the opportunity for us to think about ways we could be doing more to help our communities grow stronger and healthier.

In the spirit of tikkun olam and of new starts, here are some ways to help stamp out hunger this high holiday season, and to bring some sweetness to others’ new year’s celebrations:

  • Masbia: This New York-based kosher soup kitchen network helps to feed hungry people and families all year round, including on the high holidays. Find out how you can volunteer here, or donate money, food or equipment here. Masbia is also selling Rosh Hashanah cards, the proceeds of which will go to support their work.
  • Mazon: This Jewish hunger organization created a bunch of resources to incorporate the notions of hunger and food security into your high holiday celebrations. Make a donation to support their ongoing work to combat hunger here.
  • Jewish Family & Children Services: Lots of JFCS chapters around the country have high holiday-related programming and year-round food banks you can volunteer with.
  • No Kid Hungry: This national organization fights childhood hunger through advocacy and education. Take their No Kid Hungry Pledge, and get involved here.
  • Feeding America: This national network of food banks helps distribute over 3 billion pounds of food to hungry individuals and families each year. Find out how you can volunteer (sorting, boxing and repackaging donated food) here.
  • Revolution Hunger: Help this national campaign harness teen power to fight hunger and malnutrition around the world. Get involved with the Revolution Hunger Youth Team here.

Find out more about Masbia’s work during last year’s Rosh Hashanah in the video below:

 

Do you know of other organizations that are standing up to hunger this high holiday season? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting @repairtheworld.