This is my fourth Share Our Strength fundraising campaign, and to date, the most urgent.
When I first started raising money for SOS, the numbers were hard to hear: 12 million kids were food insecure, meaning they went to bed not knowing if they would have anything to eat the next day. Then, that number climbed to 15 million when the economy tanked in 2008. Last year, the number was 17 million. This year, it's gone even higher.
More than 17 million kids -- nearly 1 in 4 American kids -- go to bed at night not knowing where their next meal is coming from. I know I say this every year, but THAT'S NOT OKAY. It upsets me to think that there are families without neighborhood, family, community, or church support where food is a priority. Just stop for a minute and think about that: 1 in 4 kids is hungry in America. One in four.
Kids who are hungry are more susceptible to chronic illness and disease, and they don’t succeed in school. And, as our national economy continues to weaken, and more and more parents become unemployed, this problem will only get worse. There's a stigma around this whole issue, too... and there are so many families out there who you wouldn't think are having food challenges, but are. They don't want to talk about it, because they're embarrassed it's happening to them. They make enough money to pay the rent or mortgage, but due to job loss, disability, or other factors, are barely scraping by because they don't qualify for food stamps or other support. They don't have family in the area to help, and are too embarrassed to ask for help from anyone else. The only meal their kids get is lunch at school. Families who fall through the cracks need our help, too.
I feel so incredibly lucky to have clients who keep me employed, but I know just like anyone else, nothing in life is a guarantee, and none of us ever truly knows when and if we might need help someday. But right now, I'm writing this with a full belly, a warm house, a roof over my head, and safety and security in knowing I can and will eat tomorrow. So, I want to help those who might not be as lucky as I feel.
We've created a dedicated Alinea at Home Share Our Strength campaign again this holiday season, and if you click on that page and make a donation, you'll be entered into a drawing to win some pretty cool stuff:
Those who donate $50 or more will be entered into a drawing to win one of the following:
The Professional Chef, 8th Edition (CIA; Wiley Publishing)
Avec Eric (Eric Ripert)
How to Cook Everything (Mark Bittman)
A $50 gift certificate for Jeni’s ice cream
BLiS bourbon barrel matured maple syrup
… and a donation coming our way from Chef Achatz and Nick Kokonas at Alinea.
Donors who give $25 or more will be selected at random to win one of the following fabulous books as well as some really delicious coffee:
Around My French Table (Dorie Greenspan)
The Original King Arthur Flour Cookbook, Commemorative Ed.
Taste of Home Cookbook
Fresh From the Market (Laurent Tourondel)
Complete Book of Knife Skills (Zwilling, J.A. Henckels)
Molto Gusto (Mario Batali)
Gifts Cooks Love (Sur La Table)
The Simple Art of Eating Well (Jessie Price)
Anjum’s New Indian (Anjum Anand)
Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking (Paula Wolfert)
Gluten-free Girl and the Chef (Shauna and Danny Ahern)
Heston’s Fantastical Feasts (Heston Blumenthal)
Coffee from Southern Skies Coffee Roasters
Donors who’ve given between $5 and $25 will be selected to win one of the following books:
In the Green Kitchen (Alice Waters)
Poor Girl Gourmet (Amy McCoy)
Blue Ribbon Cookbook (Bromberg Brothers)
Everyday Cooking with Organic Produce (Cathy Thomas)
Fannie’s Last Supper (Christopher Kimball)
American Cheeses (Clark Wolf)
Wild Food from Land and Sea (Marco Pierre White)
Farm to Fork (Emeril Lagasse)
The Big Summer Cookbook (Jeff Cox)
Peace Meals (Anna Badkhen)
Far Flung and Well Fed (R.W. Apple; Corby Kummer)
Cooking for Isaiah (Silvana Nardone)
Food Presentation Secrets (Cara Hobday; Jo Denbury)
Fine Cooking: Appetizers (Taunton Press)
Flavours from the Finnish Countryside (Maulavirta, Nurmi, and Lindgren)
No matter what your donation, $5 or $5,000, everyone will have a chance to win an iTunes giftcard, and a few other giveaways still in the works.
You can donate HERE.
A big, big THANK YOU to Wiley Publishing, The Washington Post Food section, and Dorie Greenspan for their generous book donations.
And, I'm giving away some of these prizes BEFORE the campaign ends on January 16, so donate early and often.
Last year, we raised just a little over $10,000 in donations, and I'd like to try and do the same this year. You might remember that, last year, to get us past some specific donation milestones, I ate cilantro, oysters, tripe, celery, and durian -- all foods that still kind of skeeve me out just a little bit. I also tap-danced in front of the White House.
This year, I'm taking suggestions for more of what my friends like to call Carol's Humiliating Moments in Philanthropy. Hit me up in the comments or via email, and let me know what will make you open your wallet a little wider this year. Some early suggestions have included:
-- Somersaults in front of the Capitol building, while drinking a glass of scotch
-- Video of me trying to drum on the Expert level in Rock Band
-- Eating a softshell crab (they won't be in season until the summer, though)
-- Something with music and singing, preferably out of tune. In public.
-- Cartwheels around the Washington Monument
So tell me, what can I do to make you give, Give, GIVE?
Remember, your donation is tax-deductible (Share Our Strength emails a confirmation receipt for tax purposes).
The goal for this year: $10,000
Let's do this.