16 December, 2009

Love After Death

This entry was originally posted on the modernpoly.com blog. It is reposted here for reference only.

My partner’s first love is dead.

Robin lost Marta in 2001, nearly nine years ago, yet the loss is still quite fresh in her mind. Not a week goes by without Marta coming up in conversation in some way; and I am quite certain that not a day goes by without Robin thinking of Marta.

I never met Marta, but through Robin’s thoughts and words, I cannot help but to feel as though I know Marta intimately. I know so much of what they did together; their ups and downs, their successes and their failings. There is no event that Robin and Marta shared that I do not also know by heart.  I have been with Robin for many years, and I have already memorized every story she has of Marta.

Twice a year, and sometimes more, an entire day is dedicated to Marta. On her birthday, and on her deathday, Robin celebrates Marta’s life with stories and memories and a whole lot of crying. I join in the celebration, and also in the despair. Robin is the love of my life, and I am hers; but also Robin loves Marta. Robin will always love Marta. True love does not falter after only a scant nine years apart.

Sometimes, when Robin isn’t around, I look through her old scrapbooks of Marta.  Marta is beautiful — more beautiful, perhaps, than Robin’s words of her.  There are pictures of Marta from the week of her birth all the way to the month of her death.  In some, she is smiling, while in others she seems bored.  Sometimes she is running; in others, she simply naps.  Looking at them makes me cry, for I feel Robin’s loss as cleanly as though it were my own.

Every night, as Robin and I tell each other how deeply we are in love, I know that she is also saying good night to Marta, her other lover. And it makes me happy. For I am in love with two women, one of whom I’ve never met. And I never will.

15 December, 2009

Dinner Impossible

Note: This article was originally published on Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry website.
Share Our Strength appeared on Food Network’s “Dinner Impossible” this last week. Check out Chefs Robert Irvine and Guy Fieri as they join Share Our Strength to provide Holiday cheer for 300 California kids-in-need.

09 December, 2009

The differential operator is coming!

One day, in Mathland, you and x are walking around, talking about the weather. After a while, x2 and ex join you. The conversation moves to more small talk when, all of a sudden, 1 comes running by, screaming: "The differential operator is coming! Run for your lives!"

x and x2 look around nervously and tell you they have to split. After they leave, you turn to ex and ask what the problem was. "Oh, that's the differential operator, d/dx. When he gets close, he has to act. For 1 it's especially nasty, since he will completely vanish. And also for x and x2 it's quite irritating. But for me, it's no problem; I'll just transform into my old self again." And with a 'poof', he suddenly vanishes. You hear a soft noise behind you and you turn around.

"Hi," says the differential operator. "I'm d/dy."

07 November, 2009

Share Our Strength Grantees

Note: This article was originally published on Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry website.

Marcus Finley, manager of our Grants & Child Hunger strategy, led a great panel discussion today at Conference of Leaders with three of Share Our Strength’s grantees from across America:
  • Linda Stone, The Children’s Alliance, Seattle, WA
  • Brenda Chamberlain, Horton’s Kids, Washington, DC
  • Yael Lehman, The Food Trust, Philadelphia, PA
Share Our Strength does a lot of in-the-field work with Operation Frontline, but most of the money we raise goes toward funding grantees in the field of anti-hunger work. The three grantees on this panel represent disparate versions of how Share Our Strength makes a difference.
Brenda described how Horton’s Kids started out as a tutoring service for very low-income neighborhoods, but they soon recognized that no progress could be made without first feeding their children. Today, Horton’s Kids start every tutoring session with high-quality nutritious food.
Yael spoke about the corner store work they do, making sure that every neighborhood has access to fresh food, and eliminating the fresh food deserts in Philly. They also do a lot of work with farmers’ markets, making them more accessible for low-income families.
Linda and the Children’s Alliance, on the other hand, focus on state-level initiatives in the Washington state congress, making things like school breakfast a norm rather than an exception to the rule.
A thorough Q&A session followed, resulting in some great discussion.
On overweight, yet nutritionally deficient, kids:
“Kids can be overweight, but also not have enough nutrients. Horton’s Kids, for example, get food from corner stores that have the selection of a 7/11, but everything is behind bullet-proof glass. With few options available to them, many kids get more calories than they need from nothing but potato chips, leaving them overweight yet still hungry; without the nutrients they need, all the body can do to cope is continue to push a feeling of hunger.”
On local donations from food companies:
“We cannot utilize food company donations on a local level, because it results in a conflict of interest when we advocate locations where children live, learn, and play to start offering nutritious food. But we can take advantage of the massive donations food companies provide by going through Share Our Strength.” -Linda
On the recession:
“The Philadelphia government cut everything; the only way we could keep our programs running is by organizations like Share Our Strength continuing to fund us.” -Yael
On small efforts:
“We run a summer camp six days a week to maintain reading levels over the summer. We also feed the kids every time we see them. One time we noticed two brothers who couldn’t seem to get enough food, so we decided to send them home with extra meals. Their eyes immediately lit up. ‘Is that for me?’, they exclaimed excitedly. This is instant impact from small efforts on our end. It really does make a big difference.” -Brenda
On consistent funding:
“There are so many folks who want to fund you for a year or two, but what happens after that? Having reliable funding from Share Our Strength is key for doing what we need to do.” -Linda
On food stamp acceptance at farmers’ markets:
“Food stamp machines are expensive. But not only do we need them at farmers’ markets so that SNAP recipients can purchase fresh food, but also every farmer really does need one as well; we’ve found that the addition of a food stamp machine (which also allows credit cards) actually doubled sales of fresh produce. As soon as we saw these dramatic increases, we immediately pushed for every farmer’s market in Philly to have a food stamp machine. They’re not yet paid for, but they’re at every farmer’s market in the city now, and we’re proud of that.” -Yael
On school breakfast:
“We used to have a school breakfast program in Washington state that required a 30¢ co-pay. But we knew that for low-income families with multiple children, that 30¢ can be really hard to come by. So we rallied our volunteers to speak with their congressmen, and the state of Washington decided to foot the bill instead. As a result, the participation rate soared.” -Linda

06 November, 2009

Conference Of Leaders

Note: This article was originally published on Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry website.

Share Our Strength’s annual Conference of Leaders is going on right now!
From November 7-9, hundreds of anti-hunger advocates from across the country are converging on Washington, DC to celebrate Share Our Strength’s 25th anniversary celebration.
Attendees at the conference will be tweeting with the hashtag #nkh, for “No Kid Hungry”. To follow along, head over to strength.org/conference, or scroll to the bottom of this page and you can see the tweets roll in in real time!
You can also see the photos as they come in on our Conference of Leaders flickr feed, and videos from the event on our youtube page.
Remember, if you’re at the conference, be sure to tweet with the hashtag #nkh and upload all your photos to the Share Our Strength Flickr group.
We hope you all enjoy the celebration!

29 October, 2009

We're Hiring!

Note: This article was originally published on Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry website.

Throughout the recent recession, times have been tough all-around. Food banks have seen shortages even while demand for food assistance has risen substantially. Non-profits of all stripes have seen a decline in donations, and volunteers have been harder to come by.
But though these scary statistics hold true for many nonprofits, Share Our Strength has been able to rise above it all. Our fiscal outlook is rising with every forecast, and the funds we allocate to on-the-ground programs have been increasing, not decreasing. This is due to Share Our Strength’s unique experiences with cause marketing (earning us the 2009 Golden Halo Award Winner as Cause Marketer of the Year) and a deep relationship with its many volunteers and corporate sponsorships across the nation.
In fact, throughout this entire recession, Share Our Strength has continuously had a careers page up, because we’re actively looking for more talent to join our team.
Our Jobs page has a list of many positions that we need to fill in order to effectively focus on our efforts to end childhood hunger. I hesitate to list the positions we need in this blog entry, since available positions will of course differ over time, but in general, we always have a wide variety of positions that we need filled by people of various abilities. From Americorps volunteers to on-site local directors, design and web interns to managers in each of our program tracks, there is always something available for job-seekers to look through.
So if you’re looking for a new position and want to make a sincere difference with your day job, then please check out our careers section. You may just find exactly what you’re looking for.

26 October, 2009

Childhood Hunger Facts

Note: This article was originally published on Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry website.

The Share Our Strength website is viewed by many different people for many different reasons. Some come because they see one of our Taste of the Nation events or happen across a Great American Bake Sale. Others come because they see us on Food Network or hear us mentioned on the radio. Most come to learn more about childhood hunger in America and what can be done to help alleviate the problem.
But there are a few who come for a much more exacting reason: Research.
Share Our Strength is the leading anti-childhood hunger organization in America. And while much of what we do aims at eliminating the problem, one part of this active approach requires us to be data-gatherers, so that we can effectively gauge the situation and find numbers that we can look to to see our progress.
But these facts are not just here for us alone; we ensure all of this information is made available to the public, for whatever use is needed. Whether you’re a student doing a report on child hunger or an activist preparing data to show to your congressman, you will find Share Our Strength’s Facts on Childhood Hunger page to be quite useful.
Once there, you can learn more about talking points on why childhood hunger is important; what food insecurity is, and why this term is used in reports rather than “hunger”; facts on poverty and food assistance programs & resources; and links to other sites that may help if you need additional research.
As always, our Hunger Facts section is always expanding, and is always kept as up to date as possible. For example, soon we will also have data put up on our Teacher Report, which highlights research Share Our Strength has done looking into hunger In America’s classrooms.
If you’ve never used our data before, then I welcome you to try grabbing a few stats to use in a blog entry or in your newest Facebook status update. It never hurts to have raw data on your side whenever you bring up the issue of childhood hunger in your daily life. With your help, we can make childhood hunger in America just a little less invisible, one tweet at a time.

20 October, 2009

Keeping Up With Share Our Strength

Note: This article was originally published on Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry website.

If you're like me, then when you're into a nonprofit as dedicated as Share Our Strength, you just can't get enough content on it to satiate your thirst. But that's why we've made it as easy as possible for you to keep up to date with Share Our Strength in as many ways as you'd like.
The strength.org homepage is always the best place to go when you want to know what's up with Share Our Strength today. Not only do we have Hunger News stories, recent blog entries, and highlights up that let everyone know what's going on, we also have many other items that are updated on a regular basis for all to see. If you've only been checking out our homepage occasionally, then you may want to start stopping by a little more often. You never know what you might find there.
By far the easiest way to keep up with what's going on is by signing up for our monthly newsletter. Not only will you get monthly emails on Share Our Strength's efforts to end childhood hunger, but you can also opt in to receive reminders when Share Our Strength holds events in your area.

This blog is another great avenue for seeing new content. But rather than heading over tostrength.org/blog every time you want to see what's new, why not try subscribing to our No Kid Hungry Blog RSS feed? All you need is an RSS reader such as google.com/reader, and you can have our blog content delivered to you evey day!
While you're at it, subscribe to our Childhood Hunger News RSS feed. We post news items from across the web about childhood hunger quite often. If you want to know what's current in the field of childhood hunger, then you should definitely see our Childhood Hunger In The News section.
If you're up on social media, then you may also want to subscribe to our Twitter feed. Following the@ShareStrength account is a great way to have conversation directly with Jeff and myself on the Share Our Strength web team. You can also follow @Dine_Out for Great American Dine Out updates,@ofl_mass for Operation Frontline updates in the field from Boston, MA, and a number of our Taste of the Nation cities have twitter accounts as well; check out whichever is closest to you:
Becoming our fan on Facebook is also a great way to keep updated. Many items are just too small to warrant a new blog post, but a quick Facebook update will let everyone know what's going on regardless. And don't forget to join the Share Our Strength cause on facebook, nor our two program pages: Taste of the Nation and Operation Frontline.
If you really want a view behind the scenes, then I highly suggest friending us on Flickr and YouTube. Sometimes we post new videos and photos that don't always get the spotlight they deserve, and by friending us there, you can see all the rich content that may not make it onto strength.org.
Of course, Share Our Strength maintains a presence in many other places as well, so if I haven't mentioned your favorite, don't worry: we aren't going away anytime soon. But if any of you have ideas on how Share Our Strength can keep you updated with even more content, please don't hesitate to share by leaving a comment below — we'd love to know what you think!

15 October, 2009

Hunger And Climate Change

Note: This article was originally published on Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry website.

Share Our Strength has already committed itself to ending childhood hunger in America by 2015. This goal is entirely reachable and we fully intend on fulfilling our promise.
Our founder, Billy Shore, explains our commitment succintly: “Pick a cause big enough to matter, yet small enough to accomplish.” Ending childhood hunger in America is one such cause, and it is the end toward which we all work for each and every day.
But of course hunger goes beyond America’s borders, and the logical next step after eradicating domestic hunger is to replicate our methods in other developed countries that are similarly afflicted. (This process-oriented approach is, after all, what we are known for with our state partnerships.) Yet even these next steps may not help the larger issue of hunger in under-developed nations.
The progress we as a culture have made in fighting hunger in developing nations is impressive so far, but one looming issue threatens to take away all that we’ve accomplished to date: global climate change.
The truth about how climate change will affect world hunger is staggering. According to a recent report by the International Food Policy Research Institute, “By 2050, the decline in calorie availability will increase child malnutrition by 20 percent relative to a world with no climate change. Climate change will eliminate much of the improvement in child malnourishment levels that would occur with no climate change.” [emphasis added]
But if you think that’s bad, then consider this: Calorie availability in 2050 will not only be lower than in the no–climate-change scenario—it will actually decline relative to 2000 levels throughout the developing world. Projections like this make it difficult to imagine a world without hunger in developing countries anytime soon. All the progress we’ve made so far can easily be wiped out due to climate change alone.
According to a recent issue brief by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization(PDF), due to the combination of a world population increase to 9 billion by 2050, more people eating meat and dairy products which are wasteful of crop resources, and an increase of farmland being used for biofuels, overall food production will need to increase by some 70 percent more than the 2005-07 output.
An increase like this would be utterly staggering. To cover this alone would cost over $7 billion annually, according to the IFPRI. But that’s nothing compared to the World Bank’s World Development Report 2010 figure of $75 billion needed annually to control the other myriad effects of climate change.
Of course, these projected costs are by no means definite. Though climate change is a definite reality, the magnitude of its effects are not easy to predict. The difference between a 2°C and a 5°C change in global temperature is nothing short of monumental. According to a recent report by Oxfam(PDF), it would take a huge amount of political will just to muster only a 2°C change, and even in that rosy scenario, over 660 million people could be forced into devastating conditions. And if we follow our present course, we can expect a 5°C temperature rise, which (the report says) means human population levels could be reduced to just one billion people by the end of the century.
These projections can give one pause. But we must find the will to continue doing what we can to help the problem. Hunger must be combated at every stage, on every side, by everyone. While it’s true that by 2015, nearly 200 million people may be forced to migrate due to lack of food, at least we can know that in America, every child will be surrounded by nutritious food wherever they live, learn, and play.
And from there, we will move on to the next problem. Because that’s what Share Our Strength does.

13 October, 2009

The Poetry Of Ending Hunger

Note: This article was originally published on Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry website.

hunger poetryChildhood hunger is a scourge whose evils are outspoken.
Hunger begets poor grades begets lives broken.
It is an invisible foe, whose full extent belies
its effect, its strength, and even its size.
Hunger tears away the foundation of society.
Its presence contradicts any appearance of propriety.
But there is a way we can fight this harm.
Share Our Strength is here to sound the alarm.
Through state partnerships and unbridled zeal,
Share Our Strength is able to combat and reveal
the invisibility of hunger, the methods to contain,
and the ways that we can truly sustain
a working solution that does all it can
to bring to fruition Share Our Strength’s plan
to end childhood hunger in America in two thousand fifteen.
Then, and only then, will lack of hunger finally be routine.

28 September, 2009

A Novel Funding Approach

Note: This article was originally published on Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry website.

Operation FrontlineOperation Frontline does a good job of teaching low-income families how to cook delicious & nutritious meals with limited funds, but finding the money necessary to expand the program to every area it is needed is difficult even for an organization like Share Our Strength.
One idea for increasing available funds for programs like Operation Frontline is to reach out to health insurers. After all, it is clear that eating healthy food on a regular basis will not only help to create less health problems later on, but will also ensure that insurance companies don’t have to pay out for problems that will be prevented by this change to a proper diet.
Of course, even in the best scenario, this idea will not help everyone. The incentive for insurers to fund programs like Operation Frontline only exists if those the program helps are also insured by those same providers. Obviously, many of the families in these programs do not have health insurance at all.
But even if everyone was insured, this scheme does not work. It has already been tried, and it has failed.
Great MovesRoberta Clarke of Great Moves, a pediatric weight management center in Boston, explains: “Initial meetings 18 months earlier with the insurance companies had suggested that, if the program worked — that is, for example, if the children’s body mass index numbers started to stabilize or fall rather than rise — insurers would discuss paying part of the program cost.”
But after results starting coming in, Insurers started changing their tune. “[They said] they would not pay for the program, not because the program did not work but because it did not meet their 12-month return-on-investment goal.” Even though insurers agreed that the individuals themselves would be healthier and would present less of a risk for a hospital visit that they would have to pay out for, they still refused to pay for the program because by the time health benefits started to appear, the average family would have moved on to a different health provider. In essence, insurers did not want to pay up front for a benefit that another health insurer would receive.
Fulfilling the President's CallIf you want to get a few more details on the specifics, Roberta Clarke wrote a great account of this over at boston.com. But what I’m concerned most with from this is the idea that the funding for real solutions like Operation Frontline seem to come only from charities like Share Our Strength. This is most definitely not ideal. We need strong public/private partnerships, like the kinds Billy Shore and Tom Freedman proposed through the Democratic Leadership Council.
Share Our Strength is already doing great state partnership work as a test case for the entire nation. With good, old fashioned hard work, and a little luck, Share Our Strength will be able to leverage these test cases into a framework that will push us toward our goal of ending childhood hunger in America by 2015.
We hope you’ll all be along for the ride.

24 September, 2009


Note: This article was originally published on Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry website.

Hinges of HopeI am always amazed by both the depth and breadth of my coworkers here at Share Our Strength. Though I have only worked here for a little over a year (and this is my first real job at that), I already feel as though I have grown tremendously in my time in the nonprofit sector. But it isn’t due to any positive trait I possess—rather, it is almost entirely due to the intensity and excitement I see every day around me.
As a web guy, I don’t often get to go into the field to see all the good we do, but even in the office all day I am surrounded by talented, dedicated individuals who work hard every day to accomplish something truly valuable. For all of this, I am extremely grateful.
I chose to work at Share Our Strength because of all the good work this organization accomplishes everyday, and sometimes it isn’t entirely obvious what all we do when I’m stuck behind a computer all day. So that’s why, for the first time, I decided to go on a Hinges of Hope tour.
As Billy Shore puts it, there are places in America that we think of as hinges of hope. These are places with situations that show how far we have fallen, yet also show how we can actually turn around from the brink.
Every few months, we send out a few volunteers, staff, donors, and partners to bear witness in the work we are doing in a particular area. We show the problems; we show the solutions we’ve come up with; and we show the results of our efforts, inviting discussion on how we can improve the good we do.
And so that’s why my first Hinges of Hope trip means so much to me. It has reinvigorated me in my work, and encouraged me to take new and bigger projects. I may just be a web guy, but while teamed up with the awesome team we have at Share Our Strength, I feel invincible.
Together, we can do anything.

Read more about Hinges of Hope

22 September, 2009

The Great American Dine Out Is Here!

Note: This article was originally published on Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry website.

Great American Dine OutEach year, the beginning of back-to-school season marks Great American Dine Out week. It’s the best time of year to do something small to help end childhood hunger. That’s because, from September 20-26, you can dine out at participating restaurants and a portion of your check will automatically go toward Share Our Strength’s efforts to end childhood hunger by 2015.
There are lots of ways you can get involved with Share Our Strength throughout the course of the year, but the Great American Dine Out is definitely the easiest.
We all go out to eat anyway, so all we have to do to help is just to make sure that the restaurants we go to during Dine Out week are donating part of their profits to Share Our Strength, and then go out to eat as we normally would.
And accomplishing that much is extremely easy: just head over to our zip search, plug in your zip code, and find a restaurant near you. That’s all it takes!

Great American Dine Out

There’s no shortage of choices, either: thousands of restaurants have signed up to be part of the Great American Dine Out this year, including fine dining, casual eateries, chains, and independent family-run operations. We raised over half a million dollars last year and we aim to surpass even that this year!
So don’t forget to dine out this week, and you won’t get to enjoy just a great meal, but also a great conscience for having done your part to help end the childhood hunger epidemic in the United States.

Other things you can do during Dine Out week

22 July, 2009

Hinges of Hope in Philly

Note: This article was originally published on Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry website.

Hinges of HopeAfter a year and a half with Share Our Strength, I’ve attended Taste of the Nation parties, held Great American Bake Sales, sent out emails for A Tasteful Pursuit dinners, and have participated in all kinds of events, both culinary and volunteer-oriented. But recently, I finally took my first Hinges of Hope tour.

But it’s not just any Hinges of Hope tour; this one was special to me because it gave me the chance to see one of the cities we work closely with with my own eyes: Philadelphia.

Philadelphia is a beautiful city, even while its utter poverty in some areas strongly affects me. We pull in via train around 9:00 AM, and already I feel sporadic episodes of cognitive dissonance. The beauty is overwhelming, yet a homeless beggar is the first human contact I really lay eyes upon. I have brought only my credit card and so have nothing to give him.  This bothers me greatly, but I am in a hurry to catch up with my group before they leave in the vans, so all I end up doing is apologizing and hurry past him.  I am reminded of something Billy Shore always says: “Choose a cause that is big enough to matter, but small enough to actually succeed in.”  Eliminating poverty like this is certainly a big enough cause, but it is too big for me to focus on right now.  There is just too much to do in the arena of eliminating child hunger by 2015.

Hinges of HopeSoon, we are all sitting in a circle of chairs, introducing ourselves to the group. We have a little less than two dozen people, a third of which are staff that I work with everyday. The rest come from across the country in all kinds of different fields. We have Kelly Morrison, a Taste of the Nation Philadelphia committee member. Daniel Feldman, whom I first met at the 2008 Conference of Leaders, is just finishing high school, and does a lot of great fundraising with the Great American Bake Sale. John Martin, President of Capital Grille, does a lot of work with us; as does Patsy Norton of Great American Restaurants. The group is fairly diverse, representing many differing frames of view. I can tell already that this trip will be amazing.

Before long, we head out in dual vans through the city of brotherly love.  Philabundance is first to speak, giving us an overview of their work in the city. (A future post will go into greater detail on what we learned while riding in those vans, including a full video that I taped while en route.) Suffice it to say for now that I envy those who get to work in the trenches like this. Share Our Strength may be dedicated to raising money in innovative ways and in allocating resources how they will best solve the issue of childhood hunger, but Philabundance actually gets to use the money we grant them to accomplish so much good in their area. Over 65,000 people each week are directly fed through their work.  And that’s just plain impressive.

Mariana ChiltonAfter a short ride/oral presentation, we arrived at the GROW Clinic at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children.  There, we met Dr. Mariana Chilton, who took us on a tour of how they deal with malnutrition there.  (Again, as this is an overview blog post, I won’t go into the details here, but you may expect a future post to go into more detail on all that we saw there, including more video.)

The work they do there is just plain amazing.  They identify children who experience a “failure to thrive” and correct it through a team including pediatricians, nurse practitioners, nutritionists, psychologists, and social workers.  It’s important to realize that those they treat aren’t just small for their age—a condition that isn’t necessarily negative at all—but rather they grow less quickly over time than normal children do.  Some of the case studies we saw there actually had children that became smaller over time due to nutritional issues.

Share Our Strength’s mission is to end childhood hunger in America, a situation that many citizens don’t even realize is an issue in a country as rich as this.  But the GROW clinic actually deals with starving children.  Can you imagine?  Starving children in a country with such an overabundance of food….   It scares me just thinking about it.

“It’s not just food. We have plenty of food in Philly, but we still have hunger. People do not realize they even qualify for food help. Food banks exist, but it doesn’t fix the entire problem.”
— Dr. Mariana Chilton, GROW Project

Romano's GroceryThat afternoon, we met The Food Trust at a few corner grocery stores that took my breath away.  We visited three different corner stores, the first showing what a typical corner store is like, the second showing what a difference a little fresh food can make, and the third exemplified what can be done with a corner store with a little funding and good old fashioned hard work. The experience was so amazing that I think it better not to go into too much detail today; the experience really deserves a full blog post all on its own.  (When posted, I’ll make sure to add a link to it here.)

The day ended with a meal talking with Dr. Mariana Chilton and a few of the mothers from her Witnesses to Hunger project.  What we discussed there brought tears to nearly everyone’s eyes. It is difficult to describe the conversation that results when you take the time to listen up close to those who live every day in poverty. If for no other reason, this is why Hinges of Hope means as much to me as it does.

In a future blog entry, you will see video of our conversation there. But for now, I’d like to leave you with a few quotes from that conversation. Perhaps then you’ll all understand why this Hinges of Hope tour re-energized me to continue doing all the work I do every day here at Share Our Strength.

“I make $7.15 an hour, and I’m proud of it. I want to be able to buy something for my kids and feel good about the fact that I got it for them.”
“My five year old stole a bag of chips from another five year old. But I couldn’t bring myself to punish him. How could I? He was hungry.”
“My child went on a trip to Florida with her class and experienced oranges for the first time last year. She told me ‘Mama, that was a real orange;it was so juicy, it squirted in my friend’s eye.’ Before that, my kid ain’t never had no orange that wasn’t already close to being rotten.”
“My husband makes too much money for us to be on Medicare. But I can’t afford health insurance. What am I supposed to do?”
“Just in order to make ends meet, I have to work 25 hours on the clock, plus 15 more under the table. God bless that man; he pays me cash so that I can still get my food stamps every month. I gotta work 40 hours even as a single mom, just to pay the bills, but I can only claim 25 hours in order to keep my food stamps.”
“It’s not fair that my children can’t grow up enjoying a wider variety of foods. I want them to know what tofu is, but it’ll never happen. There’s just not enough money.”
“If you don’t live in the inner city, then you don’t understand how we live.”