Sunday, January 31, 2016

The First White House Convening on Childhood Hunger

             It took climbing over a few plow-packed snow banks, and clearing a number of Secret Service checkpoints to get to the White House conference on childhood hunger at the Old Executive Office Building last week. But folks from all around the country managed to do so because it was the first such conference of its kind with the White House putting some weight behind a commitment made almost 8 years ago by candidate Obama to making ending childhood hunger a priority.

            Such a White House convening on childhood hunger is a milestone for this Administration and for our No Kid Hungry campaign.  The White House announced two ambitious efforts to significantly increase school meal participation and summer feeding.  The President’s chief-of-staff Denis McDonough came to open the event, as a way of signifying the importance that POTUS attached to it.  In his introduction of USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, he mentioned the hardships that Vilsack had overcome, which is a subject Vilsack returned to at the very end of the speech.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, who oversees all of the child nutrition programs, and is now President Obama’s longest serving cabinet member offered some personal context. He explained that he’d grown up the son of a mom who struggled with alcohol and prescription drug addiction. There were times where I was taking care of her and didn’t have a childhood.  Vilsack said that one of the reasons he’d stayed in the job was “to make sure every kid in America has a childhood, knowing it’s pretty tough to have a childhood if you are hungry.”  He then recalled his initial job interview with President-elect Obama.

Rep. Jim McGovern was the one Member of Congress in attendance. He’s been relentlessly pushing for a White House Conference since before Obama became president.  But this convening, lacking the personal participation of the President, didn’t quite qualify. McGovern smiled and said: “It’s a first step”


Monday, January 4, 2016

Encouraging news to start the new year: bipartisan ship prevails with National Commission on Hunger

            The National Commission on Hunger created by Congress issued its report this morning and although five of us were appointed by the Democratic leadership of Congress, and five by the Republican leadership, we managed to be unanimous in support of nearly 20 recommendations to help end hunger in the United States.  Such bipartisanship is rare in Washington today. But we wanted to set an example of how people with very different views and political backgrounds could – with time, patience, and good will – come together on behalf of those most vulnerable and voiceless.  One of my Commission colleagues, Jeremy Everett, and I issued a statement that gives more details as to what we achieved @  And it includes a link to the report itself.  Let’s hope it’s an omen for the year ahead!


Language of leadership for the new year

             Welcome back and best wishes for the New Year. I hope you had a wonderful respite with friends and family, made even sweeter by the satisfaction of knowing that last year your support of Share Our Strength made the lives of millions of children better than they were before.

 In this time of ritual, renewal, resolutions, and all kinds of advice, it’s hard to say it better than Pope Francis did in a new year’s message that specifically called out the issue of hunger. The Pope spoke of witnessing “men, women and children fleeing war, hunger and persecution.” He called on people to “overcome the indifference which blocks solidarity, and to leave behind the false neutrality which prevents sharing".

            I tend to follow political leaders more closely that religious leaders.  But I find myself quoting the Pope more often than others because he is one of the few world leaders who not only cares about what we care about, but also uses language we use, talking about hunger, the voiceless, indifference, and sharing. Coverage of the Pope’s remarks can be found @

            During 2016 Share Our Strength has the opportunity to turn words into action. We have the talent, team, strategy and resources to succeed. Let’s make every moment count. Again, happy New Year, and welcome back.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Help us scale Chefs Cycle for No Kid Hungry and Feed Thousands More Kids

            Our campaign to end hunger has always relied on creating opportunities for people to share their strength and finding ways to make those opportunities scalable.  Last year saw the creation of Chefs Cycle and this year we are committed to scaling it. Our goal is for 200 riders to help raise more than $1 million during a June 27-29 300 mile ride along the California coast from Carmel to Santa Barbara.

            If riding 300 miles in just 3 days doesn’t sound possible for you, I can assure you that it didn’t for me either when I rode last year from Santa Barbara to San Diego.  But with just 6-8 weeks training, and the support and camaraderie of the other riders, I found it to be one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had in years. 

By sharing your strength in this way, you will help to feed thousands of kids across the country, end up in great shape, and make many new lifelong friendships. You will have a dedicated team at Share Our Strength helping you with training, fundraising ideas, and logistical support.  Check our website @  and feel free to contact me directly at