Last night was Share Our Strength’s annual Taste of the Nation event at the National Building Museum. It was the 28th year we’ve held the event and it included chef Roberto Donna who was at our first event and Bryan Voltaggio who has been deeply engaged with us for the past 5 years, as well as dozens of other talented chefs and restaurateurs.
I’ve attended all but two or three of the past 28 years, not to mention events in nearly one hundred other cities. While they have grown and changed in numerous ways, the fundamental principal remains the same: those who make a living from feeding people have a special connection to the issue of hunger and want to literally share their strength to make a difference in the community where they work and live.
Over three decades the commitment of the culinary community to ending hunger has been nothing short of extraordinary, probably exceeding the unity, generosity and commitment of any other industry when it comes to addressing a social problem. The return on that investment has been equally impressive: millions of children added to the school breakfast program, thousands more summer meals sites around the nation, and building the capacity of a highly sophisticated emergency food assistance network of food banks.
Many of us remarked last night on the passage of time. Restaurants that had opened and closed. Friends who’d moved away or died. Some of our children now had children of their own. It’s what you would expect over nearly three decades.
But what has remained, and what time won’t diminish or extinguish, is the conviction that we each have a role to play in making the world a little better for the next generation, and that the passage of time make that conviction more true not less. As the writer John Buchan put it: “No great cause is ever lost or ever won. The battle must always be renewed and the creed restated … some things are universal, catholic and undying. These do no age or pass out of fashion, for they symbolize eternal things. They are the guardians of the freedom of the human spirit, the proof of what our mortal frailty can achieve.”