Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Ingredients of Social Change Movements - on Add Passion and Stir

      Elise Smith from WinniE’s bakery, and Leslie Crutchfield, author of How Change Happens are two of the most interesting and passionate guests we’ve had on Add Passion and Stir. 

      Elise, whose cooking is inspired by her grandmother Winnie, is a graduate of Gallaudet University, cooked at our DC No Kid Hungry dinner, and had lobbied on Capitol Hill for us. Leslie, who is now executive director of Georgetown University’s Global Social Enterprise Institute discusses her research on common denominators driving recent successful social movements. “Successful movements turn grassroots gold. They invest in and nurture local leaders… It’s the combination of grassroots and organizations that put all the pieces together so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” and cites Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign as an example.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Help Us Keep Riding Until There Is No Kid Hungry

Next month in Charlottesville, VA I’ll be getting on my bike for the fifth time in four years for another 3-day, 300-mile Chefs Cycle ride to support our No Kid Hungry campaign. If you’ve ever seen me ride you’ll know it’s not because I’m a natural athlete. No one has ever confused me for that! Rather, I’m riding again because I’ve seen the impact of the millions of dollars we’re raising on the lives of the kids that Share Our Strength serves. Our success in adding 3 million kids to school breakfast programs has transformed their health, educational achievement, and lives in countless ways.

This inaugural east coast ride has been added to meet popular demand among chefs and restaurateurs eager to share their strength. If you already contributed earlier this year to my previous ride in Santa Rosa, thank you and please feel free to ignore this note. If not, please consider supporting me (HERE) or one of the other 150 riders (HERE). Thanks.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Mounting Evidence That Progress Is Possible - Especially Locally!

NY Times columnist Tom Friedman argues that American politics still works from the bottom up, “where civic coalitions are succeeding at revitalizing old towns where governmental efforts have failed:  He point is borne out in the latest Annie E Casey Foundation’s report on infant mortality in Baltimore.

A “collective impact” approach known as B’More for Healthy Babies (BHB) that blends public investment with private philanthropic commitments has resulted in a decrease in infant mortality by 35% since 2009 and a decrease in the disparity between African Americans and whites by 64%

We’ve seen the same at Share Our Strength with our No Kid Hungry campaign that operates on a state-by-states basis. 3 million kids have been added to school breakfast over the past 10 years. The number of children experiencing hunger is down at least 30%.

The animosity and divisiveness that characterizes our national politics often subsides at the community level where citizens have a clear line of sight into the needs of their neighbors and solutions that work. Especially on behalf of children. Pragmatism, collaboration, and innovation prevail – and show what might be possible if we put the larger interest over individual special interests.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Both Bad and Better

            New data about children from the Annie E. Casey Foundation aligns perfectly with what Bill Gates describes as “one of the best books I’ve ever read.”  He is referring to Factfulness by Hans Robling which makes the case that we (especially journalists and advocates) almost always over-estimate and dramatize how bad things are in the world and under-estimate how much progress has been made.  The central point is that social conditions can be both bad and better. Grounding oneself in fact (not necessarily data, but fact) is essential.  to creating effective and lasting change.

            Here are the key findings from the Annie E Casey Foundation’s 2018 Kids Count Data Book published last week:

n  The nation’s child poverty rate dropped from a peak of 23% in 2011 to 19% in 2016 resulting in nearly 2.3 million fewer children living in poverty

n  The teen birth rate fell to an all-time low

n  The rate of high school students graduating on time climbed to an all-time high

n  Despite these shifts in the right direction, deep racial and ethnic inequities persist. For nearly all of the measures tracked by Kids Count, African-American, American Indian, Latino, and Southeast Asian children continue to fare worse than their peers.

We have been seeing the same dynamic when it comes to childhood hunger. Thanks to our No Kid Hungry campaign and other efforts, and a growing economy, progress has been unprecedented – reducing the number of hungry kids in the U.S. by more than 30%.  But even one hungry child is unacceptable. So, just as Rosling and Gates suggest, things are bad but better. We need to assert both.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A First For Share Our Strength: Bride and Groom At Our Boston Taste Event

I've been to a lot of Taste of the Nation events for Share Our Strength and Our No Kid Hungry campaign- but this was the first time I've seen a bride and groom and their entire wedding party among our guests.  The bride is a first grade teacher in Boston Public Schools and many of her students live below the poverty line and come to school hungry, which affected her deeply. She’s been to a number of Boston Taste of the Nation events in the past and told her fiancĂ© that the most meaningful thing she could imagine would be having her wedding reception as part of Taste. They brought 125 guests!  Hear it in her their own words from the first time we’ve recorded an episode of Add Passion and Stir live from a Taste event with a variety of chefs and other participants.  At or on iTunes at


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Milestones On The Road to Ending Childhood Hunger (per an amazing rookie Chefs Cycle Rider)

I thought you might be inspired as I was by the insights of our Colorado colleague Jenny Baragary who rode Chefs Cycle for the first time in Santa Rosa last month. In her note below Jenny really nailed what is special about both the ride and our staff, and how it connects to our No Kid Hungry campaign and the broader mission of Share Our Strength.  I’m so grateful to Jenny for riding and for sharing her experience.


From: Baragary, Jennifer
Sent: Saturday, June 23, 2018 10:33 AM
To: Shore, Billy <>; Nelson, Tom <>
Subject: Chefs Cycle Thoughts!

Hi Billy and Tom,

It’s taken me over month to process what I experienced at Chefs Cycle. When people ask me about it, I light up, a huge smile comes across my face, and I say, “It was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done…but I had an awesome time!” And it’s true, the ride was really hard. There were several moments when I didn’t think I would finish and even more moments when I question why I can’t be content just running a 5K.

Now that I’ve had time to recover, I wanted to share some thoughts on what made the ride so amazing for me:

·       It’s an Equalizer: Upon arriving, it was immediately clear that I was a rookie. Chefs had bikes worth more than my car and more muscle in a single calf than I have in my entire body. Needless to say, I was nervous heading into Day 1. What if I was last to finish? What if I didn’t finish at all? At breakfast before Day 1, my roommate and I sat with members of the Hot Wheels team. They graciously answered our newbie questions and prepared us for the day ahead. I ate breakfast with this group every day (that was the only time I could keep pace with them). Each morning, we discussed the highs and lows of the previous day and what to expect on the ride ahead. There was something really inspiring knowing that even though they were significantly more seasoned, we were all experiencing the same ride.

·       It’s about Milestones: Someone told me once that running a marathon is the easiest and hardest thing you’ll ever do – all you have to do is put one foot in front of the other, but you have to do it for 26.2 miles. All you have to do in Chefs Cycle is peddle. By the third day that was a tall order. My goal for Day 3 was to just get to the next rest stop. By the second rest stop, I started to believe I just might finish. That’s when the real connection to our work became clear to me. Ending childhood hunger won’t happen overnight. It’s going to take achieving a series of milestones. Sometimes those milestones come quick and easy like the Day 1 rest stops…sometimes just getting to the next rest stop is going to take longer than anticipated and require significantly more willpower than expected, much like the last 25 miles of Day 2 (Note: Day 2 was a killer for me).

·       Our Staff is Exceptional, Amazing & Unbelievable: I’ve always known the folks that work for Share Our Strength are special. Across the board, it’s an organization full of people who are kind, thoughtful and generous. However, the Chefs Cycle team and staff volunteers took this to another level. As I pulled into every rest stop, there was at least one fellow staff member asking how I was feeling, what I needed and how they could help. And when I pulled out to head to the next rest stop, there was someone there saying they couldn’t wait to see me back at the hotel. I know they did this for everyone. However, I know I received a little extra love. It was so incredibly motivating and heartwarming.

On a personal level, it proved to me that I’m much stronger than I ever knew!  I wanted to thank you for the opportunity to participate.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Our $100,000 grant to support kids on the border generates more funding

Our decision to grant $100,000 to support children on the border has had an incredible response from our board, staff and donors. An additional $20,000 has already come in, unsolicited. More is expected and will be allocated the same way.

I'm grateful to the Share Our Strength staff and community of stakeholders for the critical role they played. By early last week it was clear from numerous informal communications with colleagues that the plight of children at the border was weighing heavy on the heart. Such emotion grounded in genuine empathy for the most vulnerable families among us is impossible to ignore. It stands in glaring contrast to the cynical calculations of political Washington. 

Most decisions we make at Share Our Strength fit neatly into our long-term strategic plan. But the instincts and impulses of our team and supporters are an equal and sometimes even more reliable compass.  Our organization’s leadership trusts those instincts and impulses. You should too.  When you believe an emerging issue merits a response from Share Our Strength, please raise it. Consider this an invitation. Finite resources won’t allow us to respond as often as we’d like to. But the only rules that constrain us are the rules we’ve written together and can re-write. The hallmark of moral leadership is fidelity to values even above strategy and budgets. Those values don’t come from a plan or mission statement. They come from you.

The crisis for children at the border is far from over. And because the vulnerable and voiceless are so often exploited for political gain, it won’t be the only such crisis to be addressed. If you remain vigilant and outspoken, we will remain vigilant and outspoken. Thank you.



Friday, June 22, 2018

Competence Matters

      Competence matters: Given the relentless assault on integrity, decency and compassion that America has endured the past 18 months, competence seems like an almost quaint luxury. But for more than 2000 kids still separated from the parents at the border, we are seeing why competence matters. Amid constantly changing and conflicting messages, the Trump Administration is scrambling to figure out whether, where and how to reunite them with their families or house them safely and humanely.   No one is in charge. No one’s word can be taken at face value, let alone as their bond.  Governing is complex and serious. When not treated that way, people get hurt. In this case, children. Once we restore honesty and decency to our national life, it would be nice to have competence back too.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Stain on Our Humanity Growing Darker Day By Day

“God squeezes but doesn’t choke you” one of the residents living on the Texas/Mexico border told us when I visited as a member of Congress’s National Commission on Hunger three summers ago.  I doubt he could be as stoic today. The tears and pleas we encountered during that trip, from families who had fled violence in search of a better life, pale in comparison to the barbaric brutality we are witnessing today as our own government, not other countries, is responsible for separating kids from their parents.  

With each passing day the stain on our humanity grows darker. So much of social justice has been a history of stalemate finally broken when confronted with the glaring contradiction to our own values.  Then justice lurches forward and we reclaim our humanity – at least part of it, at least for a time. Today America is looking in the mirror and can’t bear what it sees.

In the end it will be the children, the most vulnerable and voiceless of all, that will bring our nation back to its senses.  In our own work advancing Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, we’ve seen how children can be the foundation for bipartisanship and measureable, life-changing progress.  Hopefully we will experience that again, on immigration issues, as the current situation on the border is seen for the unconscionable and politically craven aberration that it is. Political expedience might prolong injustice but cannot sustain it. Not if each of us speak out.


Thursday, June 14, 2018

Remembering and Learning From Anthony Bourdain

I have to admit I did not fully appreciate the impact Anthony Bourdain had on so many lives, including a few of my own friends, until his death triggered such an outpouring of grief. Some consequential lives are even more clearly so when tragically cut short.

We met years ago when he was the subject of a roast at the New York City Wine and Food Festival that benefits Share Our Strength. It was clear, from the words of chef Eric Ripert and others that evening that admiration for Bourdain was broad and deep.

Neither chefs nor celebrities, often one and the same, necessarily suffer more depression than the rest of us, or commit suicide at a greater rate, but when they do it gets attention. Long, late hours and other occupational hazards put the culinary profession in a special category. To the extent that it makes us stop, think, and ask what we might do differently, increased awareness can help.  

The last time we personally confronted such tragedy was nearly 7 years ago when Debbie and I attended the funeral of dear friend, great chef, and former Share Our Strength board member Noel Cunningham who committed suicide at his home in Denver. He was 62, almost the same age as Bourdain.  Noel’s success and extraordinary generosity created so much light that whatever darkness he experienced was hidden in the shadows to the rest of us. His death makes no more sense to us today than then. Suicide often doesn’t.

Along with fun and fundraising success, our Chefs Cycle 300 mile bike ride revealed a greater appetite among chefs for getting healthier than we ever would have guessed. Our first inkling was the event’s viral growth: chefs recruiting each other saying “this is the best I’ve ever felt - you have to ride with us next time.”  A few weeks ago Share Our Strength co-founder Debbie Shore began exploring whether Chefs Cycle can evolve into an even larger platform, beyond biking, that helps chefs get and stay healthy so they are better able to help others.  After learning of Bourdain’s death, Boston chef Jody Adams emailed that “I’d like to continue the conversation about how to help chefs stay healthy… and give them new ways to measure success i.e. having impact by working with organizations like Share Our Strength.”

Its human nature to hope something good can come from something so tragically sad. It’s a chefs nature to nurture and care for others. And it’s the nature of Share Our Strength to help make both happen, if we possibly can.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Special episode of Add Passion and Stir recorded at Chefs Cycle

“I get to lean into my happy”

“It’s amazing to wake up every morning with another sense of purpose outside of yourself.”

“Giving up is not an option. Too many people would be let down. I couldn’t put my head down on the pillow tonight if I’d quit.”

            I don’t know where they or I got the energy, but a few of our most interesting Chef Cycle riders agreed to sit down for a podcast episode just a short while after getting off their bikes on Day 2 of this year’s ride. Listen in on Krista Anderson of New Seasons Market in Portland, Oregon, Hugh Mangum from Mighty Quinn’s New York Barbecue, and Ed Doyle from Real Food consulting. They talk about not only what the riders have done for the cause of ending childhood hunger, but also how their own lives have been completely transformed. or on iTunes at

Doubt is my constant companion but its better than riding alone

            The post-ride massage room at the Flamingo Hotel looks like a Civil War hospital. Bodies everywhere. Some on tables. Others sprawled on the floor. A few slumped in chairs along the back wall. Soft moans and groans. Grim negotiations about whether a knee, quad or hamstring can be taped and saved for the next day’s ride. The weird part: everyone is having the most fun they’ve ever had.

A delicious dinner is served at 6:00 p,m. in the parking lot. By eight o’clock, tables and chairs are nearly empty. Though still light out, a hush falls over the Flamingo. Even the healthiest, most boisterous riders return to their rooms  The best therapy, and only chance of riding 100 miles again the next day, is a good night’s sleep.

 I go to bed the first night certain I will not ride the next day and I’m okay with that. I’ve done it before, have nothing left to prove, my hamstrings burn, and Tom is harder to keep up with than ever (though kind enough to wait for me at the top of each hill). I keep thinking of friends who donated more than they could afford and so get back on the bike for Day 2. Doubt is my constant companion, but I guess it’s better than riding alone.

By Day 3, Rosemary and Nate have arrived. I figure he and I will bike to the first water stop together.  Worst case, by lunch at the 53-mile mark, he’ll be my ticket to a van ride back to the hotel.  But he wants to complete the 100 miles even though he’s never gone more than 30 before, and there are 5000 feet of climbs. Hadn’t seen that coming. No drama, just chatting and whistling alongside me, comparing notes on strategy for each hill until we cross the finish line nine hours after starting. Two days later I'm still dumbstruck - and tearing up every 5 minutes when he's not looking.

As with anything so challenging, there are important lessons.

First, as one rider said, you can accomplish anything when there’s a purpose. Share Our Strength provides it. Chefs Cycle riders have diverse backgrounds and political views. Rather than let that divide them, as often seen in America today, they unite in putting first the kids we serve. They see direct connection between riding and feeding children.

Second, both individually and organizationally, we are all capable of more than we think. Another rider, when asked his strategy, said: “it’s simple: refusing to stop, because where would that get you.” Same with our No Kid Hungry campaign.

Third, nothing great is accomplished alone – everyone had someone helping, coaching, cheering, or sticking by them.  Every rider, no matter how fast or slow, made a point of encouraging others.

Finally, we have enormous opportunity to be the organization that helps chefs and restaurateurs get healthy so that they are better able to take care of others, specifically America’s kids.  Every rider felt they were getting as much from us as they were giving. Chefs Cycle can be more than an event – it can be part of a larger lifestyle brand that builds even greater commitment to our work throughout the culinary community.  We still reach only a fraction of those who could be challenged to share their strength.

Once again the most impressive performance of all was on the part of our staff colleagues, too many too name here. Over long hours, they made the impossible possible by ensuring safe roads, supplying and supporting riders, anticipating every need. Every rider thought our team, not only did a great job, but were also representative of you and everyone at Share Our Strength. Thanks all. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

One Of The Best Food Assistance Developments Of All: More Jobs

This past weekend almost every newspaper and news website in the country had at least one headline in common: the jobless rate of 3.9% is at a 17-year low after 91 straight months of job growth that began during the Obama Administration.  On top of the historic progress we’ve already made through the No Kid Hungry campaign, this may have as great an impact on childhood hunger now and in the years ahead as anything else we do.  When the number of unemployed is cut by more than half, and millions more are working, there are certainly many more parents able to feed their families on their own.

We tend not to focus as much on macro-economic trends as we do on school breakfast legislation, and new summer meals sites, but we should.  Those we serve are embedded in these statistics. Our work is not in isolation from but intimately connected to these economic forces, more so than most issues.  We’re in search of an economist who will share his or her strength by volunteering to help us better understand the correlations between employment and wage growth with childhood hunger.  For now, I urge all of us to keep at least one eye on the bigger picture.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Here We Go Again: Chefs Cycle One More Time

In just 10 days, Tom and I will be at it again – in Santa Rosa for our fourth 300-mile Chefs Cycle ride.  As we find our place among the pack of riders at all different levels, I suspect the words of English writer Samuel Johnson, spoken in a different context, would resonate with some observers: “it is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.”  

            You can hear Tom discussing the ride, in our newest podcast episode recorded after last year’s ride, along with chef Travis Flood, chef Jess Cerra ,and Arby’s Foundation president Stuart Brown  or on iTunes at 

            If you are feeling inspired, there is plenty of time to train for our Charlottesville ride in September. Check it out at and please consider joining. For all of the talk of training and hills and pain, etc. it is mostly just incredibly fun.

Monday, April 23, 2018

SNAP Debate As A Harbinger of Whether Our Nation Can Come Back Together

With Food Stamp Bill the GOP Once Again Promotes Work Requirements That Don’t Work. “Just as good health is a prerequisite to useful employment, so is good nutrition. Making unemployment an obstacle to getting a decent meal turns this obvious truism on its head. But the advocates of the SNAP cutbacks plainly don't care. It's proper to remember that these are the same lawmakers who passed a $1.5-trillion tax cut for corporations and the wealthy.”   Michael Hiltzik,  Pulitizer Prize winning journalist at the L.A. Times

A battle looms over proposals to cut the SNAP nutritional assistance program by more than $17 billion over ten years.  The proposed cuts are camouflaged in the form of work requirements. It is a necessary battle, but the wrong one. In addition to opposing such cuts, we should be insisting that our growing economy positions us to increase assistance to end hunger and conquer poverty. The modest benefits most SNAP recipients receive are too little to even last the full month.

The work requirement issue is a kind of sleight-of-hand on the part of those looking for politically useful wedge issues that divide rather than unite. The vast majority of food stamp recipients are children, elderly, disabled, or already working. So work requirements are not even relevant, except for a select few. However, they are an example of political misdirection, putting anti-hunger advocates on the defensive instead of championing the even more ambitious efforts needed.   

The debate over SNAP and work requirements is important in and of itself. But instead of focusing on the small fraction of SNAP recipients who may be getting what some consider to be more than they deserve, our focus should instead be on the vast majority of SNAP recipients who are not getting as much as they need to lead healthy and productive lives.   

Most of all, the SNAP debate is harbinger of whether our nation can come back together on behalf of values that have been so battered and stained - like treating people with dignity and respect.  SNAP is about more than feeding hungry Americans. It is about rebuilding community and national unity.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Only You Can Get Me Up Those Hills

You can’t ride Chefs Cycle’s 300 miles and 15,000 feet of hills without training, and you can’t train only on the stationary bike in your living room while binge watching Netflix.  This year’s weather has not cooperated, but at some point I had to get out on the road. With less than 6 weeks left before the ride – that point was last weekend. Unfortunately, we were in Maine where it was not warm enough to melt all of the snow plowed to the side of the road and where the wind was strong enough to blow me back to the New Hampshire border.

I gambled that after a few miles my circulation would bring feeling back to my frozen arms and legs. Maybe by the time you’ve read this it will. At the 35 mile mark I reminded myself that mental training is as important as physical. I headed indoors for some quiet contemplation over a hot chocolate. 


Completing three Chefs Cycle rides over the past three years should be a confidence builder - but that’s offset by PTSD’s grip on me since climbing the last hill of last May’s ride.  But two things will keep me going these next few weeks. One is your support. It is not only deeply appreciated but also motivating and inspiring.  The other is all of the kids who will get school breakfast and other nutritional assistance thanks to the more than $3 million we’ll raise between this year’s two rides. (Chefs Cycle has become so popular that we’ve added an east coast ride in September.)

A contribution at any level will be a big help. Go to:

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

An Overlooked Law of Politics: Some Things are Just Not Possible, Until They Are

            Count the Omnibus budget and spending bill Congress passed at the end of March  among the many surprises to come out of Washington these days.  Filled with domestic spending increases not thought possible until they emerged as a counterweight to the boost in defense spending the Administration wanted, the Atlantic called it A Domestic Budget to Make Barak Obama Proud. These included increases of $610 million in funding for Head Start, billions more for child care, and a rejection of efforts to eliminate funding for legal services, the National Endowment for the Arts, and other programs

 These impressive victories on behalf of the most vulnerable and voiceless are a great example of an often overlooked law of politics: some things are just not possible until they happen.  Failure of imagination is always the greatest risk.
  Anti-hunger and anti-poverty advocates must do more than defend existing programs and advocate incremental fixes. Rather we must make the case for transformational change – ending hunger, eradicating poverty -  even if it comes with a significant price tag. That the road to such change is long and filled with potholes argues for starting down it sooner rather than later.

We learned that at Share Our Strength when creating the No Kid Hungry campaign. Putting a stake in the ground around ending childhood hunger, as ambitious as it seemed at the time, yielded unprecedented financial and organizational support, which in turn enabled historic results.  We’re not across the finish line yet, but participation in school breakfast meals is at an all-time high, and childhood hunger at a record low. 
Successes at the state level point to federal opportunities.  As just one example, look at the role Maryland Meals for Achievement played increasing participation in school breakfast programs.  A national American Meals For Achievement program could provide funds to states to pay for costs and incentives not covered by school meal reimbursements. It could leverage local innovation and public-private partnerships to make school breakfast accessible to every child who needs it, and help No Kid Hungry across the finish line.
Big challenges require big solutions, which in turn require vision, courage, and imagination.. It may not seem practical in our current political climate – but the Omnibus spending bill signed into law reminds us that “politically practical” is overrated. America’s fundamental goodness has not evaporated over the course of a few short years.  Nor has America’s generosity. That they remain untapped is a failure of its leaders, not its people. If the people persist, the leaders will follow.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Leadership Lessons on Add Passion and Stir

        "We live in a noble profession in the restaurant and food business.  Our job is to take care of other people every single day. That starts with taking care of our team first. " - Randy Garutti, CEO Shake Shack
       "If you are lucky enough to love what you do for a living that is the greatest gift you can have". – Katie Workman, author of Dinner Solved, and The Mom 100 Cookbook

         In addition to Shake Shack being a phenomenal partner of ours, their CEO Randy Garutti is insightful on issues of leadership, community building, hospitality, and organizational culture.  As a close colleague of Danny Meyer, it is not surprising that Randy shares so much of Danny’s philosophy, but he is also an innovative and compelling leader is his own right. Along with Katie Workman, author of Dinner Solved and the Mom 100 Cookbook, and a longtime champion for Share Our Strength this is a great conversation right at the sweet spot of what we try to do everyday.



Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Riddle of Chefs Cycle's Remarkable Growth

Why Are There More Rather than Fewer Chefs Cycle Riders This Year? 
            Given the physical and mental challenges, training, expense, and pain involved in a 300 mile, 3 day bike ride you would think that each year would see fewer and fewer riders. But it turns out that just the opposite is the case. In this, Chefs Cycle’s 4th year, demand has grown so great that we’ve actually added a second, east coast ride (Charlottesville, VA) in the fall to supplement the spring ride in California (Santa Rosa)

There are at least three reasons for Chefs Cycle’s remarkable growth:

First, in a world where social activism sometimes equates to a mere digital click, there are activists who want to be challenged to do something not easy but hard.

Second, Chefs Cycle equals impact in ending childhood hunger.  The millions of dollars we’ve raised have helped add hundreds of thousands of kids to school breakfast programs, and made the entire school day more productive.

Third, it may be hard work, but it is actually a ton of fun, and affirming that we are all capable of more than we think we are.

Those of us who ride get a lot of credit, especially for defying expectations by merely surviving the grueling ride and steep hills. But our work would be all for naught without the generosity of the thousands of donors who support it every year. I hope you’ll be one of them in 2018.   Info about the rides can be found at   and you can support my ride at  Thanks so much.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

My Rules of the Road on When To Speak Out Politically

             Recently a good friend who is a successful business leader had an uncharacteristic tweet, denouncing the treatment of fired FBI deputy director Andre McCabe.  It was uncharacteristic because his tweets are more typically about his philosophy of business or life.  I sent him a text saying I was grateful he’d spoken out and he texted back  “As you know I’ve customarily held back … but I am so upset and that one really provoked me.”  

My friend has a vision and a courage that has proven to be often ahead of, and shaping, public opinion. This is what leaders do. His text back to me perfectly captured the dilemma that so many of us face today in not wanting to blend our personal political views with our more ecumenical business dealings, but also believing these are not normal times and we might someday deeply regret not speaking out. 
In this time when too many decent men and women are being defamed, too many lines of civil behavior are being crossed, my formula, inspired by my friend, is as follows:
-       Trust your conscience and don’t ever hesitate to speak to affirm one’s values
-       Political speech need not be partisan speech
-       There is no reason not to be civil even in the strongest of disagreements.
-       If your words reach even one heart or one mind, they are worth it
In times of crisis, citizens of a democracy have a responsibility to do more than just vote. We have a responsibility to engage, persuade, protect and defend on behalf of the values we hold dear.


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