How to Support Share Our Strength Now + End Childhood Hunger in America #NoKidHungry

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At OpenTable we say, “The table is just the start…” and we mean it. Gathering with friends, family, or even strangers to share a meal is an experience that brings people and communities together every day. We’re also acutely aware that there are millions of people across the country (and the globe) for whom the next meal is not guaranteed – and certainly not as simple as booking a reservation. But you can help. Read on to learn how to support Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign now.

A week ago, on Monday, October 26, 2015, national call-in day for Share Our Strength — OpenTable’s corporate philanthropy partner in the US — took place. This year, the Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill is up for renewal in Congress, giving us the chance to end summer hunger for millions of kids in America. Time is of the essence, and so with No Kid Hungry supporters across the nation, we called our legislators’ offices to share our voice in support of the CNR.

Call-in day has passed, but there is still time to act, and that time is now. A simple phone call is all it takes. So share your strength and help make No Kid Hungry a reality. Click here for a short script and to be directly connected to your senator.

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Dine Out for Heroes: Farmer Dave Beardi on How Your Support Can Help Change the Life of an Injured Veteran

This month, from November 9-13th, you’re invited to Dine Out for Heroes at a participating restaurant in New York City. In support of The Bob Woodruff Foundation, a national nonprofit dedicated to ensuring that post-9/11 injured service members, veterans, and their families thrive long after they return home, restaurants that were moved to participate gave a contribution to the foundation.

To illustrate how every dollar raised can help an injured veteran on the road to recovery and leading a fulfilling life, we chatted with farmer and U.S. Army veteran David Beardi of BRD’s Forever Farm in Dayton, New York. Beardi was injured in his service to our nation. During his recovery, he connected with a fellow vet and farmer named John Post. Beardi says, “He had a small farm and he used to just pick me up and take me there. And I found it was transformative working with the animals. It really changed my life dramatically. If you would have told me that working with animals was therapeutic, previously, I would have been a little skeptical. But it was just transformative.”

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That healing work ignited a passion for farming, and soon, Beardi and his family purchased a defunct dairy farm previously owned by an Amish family. It was, in Beardi’s own words, “a massive undertaking.” The farm was in serious disrepair and in need of many improvements, including bringing in plumbing and electricity, all of which Beardi tackled.

But, even the hardest working farmer can use a helping hand – or a tractor – and the Bob Woodruff Foundation stepped up. Through Michael O’Gorman, Executive Director of the Farmer Veteran Coalition and the Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund, Beardi was awarded a Bob Woodruff Farming Fellowship. This allowed him to buy a tractor and install much-needed electric fencing for his cattle. “Michael O’Gorman is a terrific human being. I can’t say enough about him. I don’t think we would have achieved the growth we’ve had without this. It was pretty critical for us to get going. And I use that tractor every single day,” he notes.

Today, BRD’s Forever Farm produces naturally and humanely raised meats, including Angus beef and heritage pork, which are highly sought after by western New York locavores. On the 116-acre property, Beardi, his wife Becky, and their children have a herd of 50 cows and 100 pasture-raised pigs that graze on pastures of alfalfa and red and white clover. The animals enjoy the lush property and are treated with the utmost care and respect. “We’ve created a very low-stress environment for the animals, from how they live to how we handle them. We take great pride in how we care for them,” says Beardi. “People come to the farm all the time. It really is a pretty fantastic place.”Continue Reading

Chef Jason Alley on Growing up with Food Insecurity + Why #NoKidHungry Matters More Than Ever

Jason AlleyAs we continue to celebrate Dine Out for No Kid Hungry Month, Share Our Strength supporter chef Jason Alley, co-owner of Comfort, which just marked its 13th year in business, and Pasture restaurants in Richmond, Virginia, discusses his experiences with childhood hunger, why school breakfast and lunch should be available to all students, and the worst thing you can donate to a food bank.

You faced food insecurity regularly as a child. How did that affect your everyday life?

It creates massive stress. I grew up in southwest Virginia around the Appalachian Mountains, and we were certainly not alone in being poor in that area. There’s a lot of poverty. Food was always scarce. Growing up rural was nice because we had plenty of friends that hunted, and my grandmother had a garden, but that didn’t always make the cut. So food was always first and foremost on our minds all the time, like, how are we gonna make this happen? How are we going to get everybody fed?

Can you remember some of the toughest periods?

There were many times when I moved to Florida with my mom when there were weeks and weeks in which it was literally school lunch and white rice at home. That would just be it for extended periods of time.

As a child, how did you sit through school and succeed when you’re so undernourished?

I didn’t really succeed. I was unmotivated to be at school. Think about if you’re sitting at your desk and you had to skip breakfast, and now it’s lunchtime. You bottom out. You find yourself dozing off at your desk. You get hangry and cranky. Now, imagine that being a habitual thing. To think anyone is going to be successful under those circumstances is just unreasonable.

The free breakfast and lunch programs that a lot of schools have gone to are crucial in setting the stage for success for these kids. Our kids are starting public middle school for the first time this year, and their school has free breakfast and free lunch for every kid in the school.

When it’s available to everyone, I would imagine there is less of a stigma.

When I was a kid I had my little free lunch card. You’re going through puberty, kids are already starting to get bullied, you don’t have the cool clothes, and now, oh yeah, here’s your poor kid card. Have a great day! That’s just an added stressor. I think it is really progressive for a school to alleviate that stress. You know what? It’s free for everybody. Nobody pays, nobody gets singled out.

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Were there other resources to help you and your family?

We benefited from local food banks and a lot of church food closets. There were plenty of days where we would have been even hungrier had that not been available.

I feel like it’s hard for some people to take that step and go to food pantries, as if there were shame in it.

We’re a shaming culture. We’re really good at it. If you’re hungry and you need help, there’s nothing wrong with that. It sucks to feel as though you have to ask for charity, but it’s more important to look at the positives it brings. It makes everybody feel good. I don’t think there’s anybody who’s working at or going to a food pantry or food bank that is going to be looking down their nose at you. It’s a shared experience. If you can accept the help for what it is, which is help and generosity, and you can use that to get yourself moving forward, then everything is working how it’s supposed to work.

Being surrounded by the bounty of food you are able to serve, are you ever conflicted?Continue Reading

September is Dine Out for No Kid Hungry Month

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Every year, the restaurant industry unites in an extraordinary showing of solidarity to prove feeding people for a living is more than a profession; it’s a passion. It is a community that understands the power of food in America, where one in five kids struggles with hunger. An end to childhood hunger is within our reach, and the food service industry is leading the way. September is Dine Out for No Kid Hungry Month. Find a restaurant and make a reservation to join us* as we support No Kid Hungry in a most delicious way.



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