Thursday, March 15, 2018

Celebrating a Milestone In the Fight To End Childhood Hunger

We’re celebrating a milestone: a historic number of kids in our country are starting the day with a healthy breakfast. And with your support, that number is growing.

Late last week, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill to expand breakfast that we and our partners have been working on for three years. Under this new law, as many as 30,000 students in high-need schools will now have the chance to get breakfast as part of the school day. Washington is the 7th state in the nation to pass such a law.

Our next big opportunity is in New York state. Earlier this week, we took a group of chefs and culinary professionals to Albany to ask legislators to support Governor Andrew Cuomo’s breakfast budget proposal that would bring more kids breakfast who need it. If enacted, the proposal will help up to 100,000 kids get breakfast. We and our local partners are optimistic that the proposal will go through.

Beyond New York, a similar bill is moving in Massachusetts, championed by Share Our Strength and a coalition of local partners.

Momentum is growing from coast to coast. And voices like yours make a difference with legislators. If you’d like to get more involved in our efforts in Albany, Massachusetts or elsewhere, let me know and I’ll connect you to our team.

Your support is fueling the success of our No Kid Hungry campaign. Thanks for making this work possible.

The Children's Health Fund Making America Stronger Child By Child

            The Children’s Health Fund founded by the visionary Irwin and Karen Redliner and now led by Dennis Walto is one of the most inspiring organizations in the country, providing access to quality health care to our most vulnerable children. In my keynote to their annual conference in Washington yesterday, I shared five strategies for them to adopt in making America stronger child by child. They included:

-       Reinforcing the connection between child hunger and child health and mobilizing to oppose cuts to SNAP and other vital child nutrition programs

-       Recognizing that child hunger and child health are among our most solvable problems in a nation that has no shortage of food or medicine

-       Remember that children are not only vulnerable but voiceless and need us to be their voice in policy and politics

-       Supporting children to lead as we are seeing thousands do on sensible gun safety in the wake of the Parkland, FL tragedy

-       Being cathedral builders who may work on something their whole lives without seeing it finished but who are part of something larger than themselves and building something that will endure.

             Every time a school serves lunch or breakfast to a kid who can’t afford it, every step that makes health care more accessible, every improvement in our schools, makes Americas stronger child by child.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

One man may be responsible for the slaughter of innocents. All of us are responsible for stopping it.

While watching the coverage of the horrific school shooting in Florida, I thought of the words of the late Marjorie Williams, a journalist at the Washington Post who once wrote “Time and chance happen to us all, darling child, and even grown-ups can bear it only a little at a time.” 

Being able to “bear it only a little at a time” resonates with me. As a father, grandfather and uncle I find myself changing the channel away from the carnage.   But this was more than “time and chance” happening. Time and chance at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were compounded by a sickness and evil whose deadly consequence was politically enabled, and can only be stopped by political courage.

Everyone who works with or on behalf of kids – whether in hunger, health, education, sports  – has a responsibility to protect the work they do and the kids they serve, by standing up for common sense gun safety laws that the majority of Americans say they support. In fact, we have an even greater responsibility than others.

One man may be responsible for the slaughter of innocents. All of us are responsible for stopping it.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Parading Our Values

            Most of the commentary this week about the President’s proposal for a military parade has focused on the questionable symbolism and unnecessary expense – but that misses the larger point. Our impressive military, always vitally important, is not what makes our nation strong. It protects the strength’s that lie within. Those strengths are our people, values, and character.
           The men and women of our armed services deserve our deepest gratitude and respect. Even more, they deserve our willingness to match their selfless service with service of our own.  The show of force we ought to project is one that features our teachers, childcare providers, doctors, technology innovators, coaches, volunteers, nonprofits and public servants.  

This is what will enable is to keep our economy strong and our military equipped, trained, and ready. This is what we should celebrate and aspire for the rest of the world to see.

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Moral Imperative of Re-Prioritizing Justice in the Age of Trump

   Ford Foundation President Darren Walker is widely considered one of the more thoughtful voices at the intersection of philanthropy and social justice. I’m sharing his new letter as an example of how great institutions demonstrate the agility to adapt and evolve to meet changing national needs and to remain relevant to the national conversation.  Walker strikes a balance in describing how most of what they are doing at the Ford Foundation will not change, but how they will also consolidate some of their efforts in the interest of reconsidering their priorities and taking on some new things.

  I found it to be illustrative, inspiring and instructional for us and for many colleague organizations in our sector. It’s an example of the moral imperative of re-prioritizing – and having the humility to re-examine cherished beliefs and carefully crafted strategic plans.  This is especially true when political, economic and social conditions have changed as dramatically as they have in the past year.  Success is rarely about building the plan or sticking to it so much as adapting the plan to new realities. It’s worth reading what Walker has written below, and contemplating what it might mean for our work and yours

Monday, January 15, 2018

Words, Deeds, and the "Beloved Community" on MLK Day 2018

Throughout this MLK holiday weekend most of the commentary on the racist vulgarity of America’s president has revealed three categories of response:  (1) those on social media who find clever and often equally vulgar ways to insult the president in return; (2) rants; and (3) genuine heartbreak and despair.

I can relate to all three, especially the third, but none fully satisfy.  I want to know not only what people say, but also what they are going to do. Make no mistake: silence is as unacceptable now as it has been on other occasions this past year. But words alone are not sufficient. 

They must be matched with concrete commitments to more effectively serve, represent, and be the voice of those who are the targets of not only racism but of the escalating assault on poor people of all backgrounds.  We saw this most recently through the proposal to allow states to strip the poor of Medicaid if they are not working, notwithstanding studies showing those on Medicaid are better able to get jobs.  We will see it again in battles over SNAP and other forms of assistance to low income Americans

            At Share Our Strength and Community Wealth Partners, we are among the few in the privileged position to not only speak but also act.  Our plan has always been to organize, mobilize, advocate, reform, build, strengthen, motivate, and enlist and enroll those in need in programs that work. And to help those who serve them to do so more effectively. That doesn’t change. But the urgency to strengthen every partnership, whether with donor or local organization or client, increases with the knowledge that we will not only be ending hunger, but standing up for Dr. King’s vision of “the beloved community” that changes not only our laws but our souls.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Progress No One Thought Possible Until It Happened

             The podcast episode we released today will convince you that there is not a school in the country that can’t be cooking healthy, nutritious, fresh and locally sourced food right in its own school kitchen.  That’s what Laura Benavidez and Jill Shah set out to prove in a pilot program that is delighting low income kids who now enjoy school meals.

Laura is the executive director of food service for Boston Public School and previously worked with us on breakfast after the bell in the L.A. Unified School District where she served for 10 years. Jill created the Shah Family Foundation with her husband after he co-founded and took public Wayfair, the home furnishing on-line retailer.  Share Our Strength Boston chefs Andy Husbands and Ken Oringer shared their strength by helping to design and supply the school kitchens.  Their story is a great example of everyone having the capacity to share their strength and make a difference on behalf of kids.
            You can listen at on iTunes at or