Monday, October 17, 2016

Announcing Our New Podcast: ADD PASSION AND STIR

I hope you will both enjoy and be inspired by our latest effort to engage the larger audience necessary to achieve our mission. On Wednesday, October 19 via iTunes we are launching a podcast whose guests include many of the most dynamic leaders at the intersection of food and social change.  It is called Add Passion and Stir, and we need your help in launching and promoting it. 

            The three way conversations between me and two guests each week range from intimate childhood influences to global social change ambitions. They showcase many champions of our No Kid Hungry campaign and focus on solutions to hunger and poverty as well as other challenges in our communities.

We’ve already attracted amazing guests including chefs and restaurateurs Jose Andres, Gordon Hamersley, Joanne Chang, Bryce Shuman, Bill Telepan, Tanya Holland,  Jody Adams, Honest Tea Founder Seth Goldman, , Mark Shriver of Save The Children Action Network, Kathy Calvin of the UN Foundation,  John Gomperts of America’s Promise Alliance, Paul Grogan of the Boston Foundation, Irwin Redliner of the Children’s Health Fund, as well as our board colleagues Danny Meyer, Judy Ann Bigby, and Mike McCurry.  A complete list of guests is listed in the post below @

We know more today than we ever have before about how food impacts our health and longevity, our children’s ability to learn, our energy and water use and our environment. We explore all of this in conversations people who wake up every day to change the world, who share their strengths, who add passion and stir.  

The first episode will be released this Wednesday, October 19 at 1:00 p.m. Meanwhile you can listen to the trailer @ 9c12f551-582b-4dd4-b27e-e46ddcc8826d.mp3  And while you’re at it be sure to go to iTunes and search Add Passion and Stir to subscribe for free!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Guest list for Add Passion And Stir, Share Our Strength's New Podcast

              As of today, these are the sessions of Add Passion and Stir that we've recorded, with more to be produced and released every week (usually on Wednesdays at 1:00)

            Chef Jose Andres, Jaleo, ThinkFood Group, and Kathy Calvin, CEO of UN Foundation

Seth Goldman, founder of Honest Tea, and chair of Beyond Meat, and Mike McCurry, Co-chair of Commission on Presidential Debate

            Danny Meyer, Union Square Hospitality Group and Emily Chinitz, Center for Child Health and Resiliency

            Chef Bryan Voltaggio of Volt and Range and Anne Sheridan former head of Children’s Cabinet for MD Governor O’Malley

            Chef Geoff Tracy and Mark Shriver, Save The Children Action Network

            Chef Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery, and Alan Khazei, co-founder of City Year and CEO of Be The Change

            Gordon Hamersley and Gerald Chertavian, founder and CEO of Year Up

            Jeff Mills former director of DC public school food service, and John Bridgeland , CEO of Civic Enterprises

            Chef Jody Adams of Porto, and Trade, and Paul Grogan, CEO of Boston Foundation

            Chef Andy Husbands and Judy Bigby, former Secretary of Health and Human Services, state of Massachusetts

            Chef Bill Telepan Oceana and Eric Goldstein, CEO of Office of School Support NYC

            Chef Marc Murphy of Landmarc, and Joel Berg, Hunger Free America

            Chef Tanya Holland of Brown Sugar Kitchen and Joe Marshall, founder of Alive and Free

            Chef Traci Des Jarden of Jardiniere, and Diana Dooley, Secretary of Health and Human Services for California

            Chef Bryce Shuman of Betony, and Irwin Redliner, founder and CEO of Children’s Health Fund

            Chef Kwame Onwuachie of Shaw Bijou, and John Gomperts, CEO of America’s Promise Alliance

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Emergency Share Our Strength grant to save lives in Haiti

As the devastating human toll from Hurricane Matthew in Haiti became clear, we reached out over the past few days to some partners working around the clock on the ground there, to commit approximately $20,000 toward their efforts to save the lives of victims who have no food, shelter or medical care. For the past 32 years, since Share Our Strength’s founding in the wake of the Ethiopian famine, we have always allocated a small percentage of funding to international work and Haiti has been one of areas where we’ve concentrated much of it. Although we don’t put the public spotlight on it that we reserve for our No Kid Hungry campaign, it makes a life and death difference to many children and families, and inspires many of our colleagues and stakeholders in their continued support of Share Our Strength. I’m proud that as we’ve grown larger we are still able to move quickly in situations like this to do the right thing when it is needed the most.

Monday, October 3, 2016

"Monday, Monday, So Good To Me. Monday Morning it Was All I Hoped it Would Be" - The Mamas and The Papas

            From northern California to southwest Virginia I’ve been visiting schools during my travels these past few weeks. There is something new to be learned every time.

            At Prescott Elementary School in Oakland, CA, a school food service official shared that  many more kids eat school breakfast on Monday morning compared to other days of the week … because they haven’t eaten over the weekend.  Yet another way of understanding how some kids struggle, it also underscores the inequality that defines two very different America’s. In one America the weekend is too short to do all of the things we want to do, whether seeing friends, watching sports or trying new restaurants. And come Monday morning our kids will eat the same way as they do every other day of the week. No distinction would ever occur to us.  In the other America, Monday morning’s routine is markedly different. That America’s kids will turn out for school meals in greater numbers than usual. In that harsher America the weekend is too long.

            This makes all the more important the hard fought victories we obtain, each of which lays the groundwork for the next. Maryland for example has been one of the states in which we committed to achieve “proof of concept” by investing heavily to ensure full participation of eligible kids in programs like school breakfast and summer meals. For a variety of complicated reasons Baltimore City Schools lagged behind other parts of the state.  Until last week. On Wednesday, Baltimore City and our Maryland No Kid Hungry campaign announced that all Baltimore schools will move breakfast from the cafeteria to our Grab-And-Go model making breakfast accessible to 83,000 students!  More details are available from the Fox News report @ 

This kind of systemic change helps even the playing fields for children who suffer the most from the inequality that still divides us. It’s just one of many steps needed to make Monday morning like every other morning of the week.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

USDA reports "lowest figures on record for food insecurity among children"

            Important news:  As you may have seen by now, yesterday the USDA’s Economic Research Service reported that hunger among children is at its lowest level on record.  For “Very Low Food Security”, the government metric that correlates closest to hunger, as opposed to “food insecurity” which is more of a socio-economic measure, “both children and adults experienced instances of very low food security in 0.7 percent of households with children (274,000 households out of 125 million households) in 2015. The decline from 2014 (1.1 percent) was statistically significant.”  

This progress is the result of an improving economy and the higher participation rates in food and nutrition programs ranging from school breakfast to SNAP which we have worked so hard to achieve. 

            Needless to say, our work is still far from done, even more of the gap must be closed, and many of the gains we’ve made need to be protected and consolidated.  As the report explains in distinguishing between the hunger represented  by Very Low Food Security and the economic anxiety and deprivation represented by “food insecurity”: “Children were food insecure at times during the year in 7.8 percent of U.S. households with children (3.0 million households), down significantly from 9.4 percent in 2014. These households were unable at times during the year to provide adequate, nutritious food for their children.”   So we won’t be easing up any time soon.

But with 99.3% of American children NOT living in households that experience Very Low Food Security, this data offers a glimpse of a future in which Share Our Strength will celebrate the success of it’s No Kid Hungry campaign, and be in a stronger position than ever to support other critical strategies combating hunger and poverty.


Three links you will find of interest:



-          USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack’s’ statement @


-          The executive summary of the USDA report @

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

When the Geese Fly South and the Work Begins Anew

In late August at Goose Rocks Beach in Maine as we were sitting and chatting with friends one afternoon, Rosemary was first to notice a flock of geese flying south. They were high and far out over the ocean, flying left to right like the arrow in the Fed X logo. They confirmed what we already knew from the shorter days and cooler temperatures: summer was drawing to a close. The geese were just more businesslike about it than we were.

The flock Roe noticed was followed by another and another, as regularly as if spaced by Air Traffic Control. Each had as many as 40 birds, in classic V formation, each drafting off the wing of the one in front, and flapping wings in sync to catch the full benefit of the updraft. They take turns flying in the lead. Drafting in this manner saves between 20-30% of their energy. They go farther as a group than any ever could on their own.  Our favorite African proverb (“If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together”)  made literal by the aerodynamics of geese.

Much is still unknown about how geese navigate and communicate, but little needs to be repeated twice. Everyone stays in line. The trip is about survival. What drives their long journey is the same as what drives ours at Share Our Strength: the imperative of sustenance, feeding, food. The geese demonstrate an efficiency of flight, certainty of direction, and unity of purpose worth striving for as we return from the Labor Day break.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Bill Gates, poverty, schools, race, and No Kid Hungry

            I thought I’d improve on my blog posts by sharing one from Bill Gates instead.  Last week he wrote about “a powerful conversation on schools, poverty and race”

            Gates recounts his conversation with Washington State Teacher of the Year, Nate Bowling who teaches at a school in Tacoma, WA where 70% of the students are eligible for a free or reduced price school meal, what educators are calling “the New Majority” in recognition of more than 50% of  public school students now living below the poverty line.

            Bowling received a lot of visibility when he wrote a piece called “The Conversation I’m Tired of Not Having” for which Gates includes a link. It’s blunt and provocative about racial attitudes and practices in America and also worth your time to read.  But what caught my attention was how Bowling so directly framed what’s at stake in our work, while explaining his passion for teaching: “It is a matter of life and death,” he said. “If my students are not successful in school, they end up in the prison-industrial complex.” 

Ultimately Bowling was optimistic: “All kids can learn if they have the support.”  He was speaking mostly of quality teachers but we know that necessary support includes the food and nutrition critical for kids to succeed. That’s the fundamental premise of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign.  Whether we succeed or not really can be a matter of life and death.