Relief Work, Lobbying, Advocacy
If you think you are too small to be effective,
you have never been in the dark with a mosquito.
The consequences of hunger are infinitely greater than the immediate= problems of not having enough to eat. Being unable to find adequate amounts of food quickly leads to irreversible deterioration of mental as well as physical health.
A. A. Milne, the beloved author of Winnie the Pooh said, “In the quiet hours when we are alone and there is nobody to tell us what fine fellows we are, we come sometimes upon a moment in which we wonder, not how much money we are earning, not how famous we have become, but what good we are doing.”
Many chefs these days are fine fellows: they do well by being good neighbors. They volunteer at local food banks, the Feeding America hunger-relief charity, and with other organizations. Mario Batali is one among many who have created their own philanthropies. His is called the Mario Batali Foundation. As Batali has said, “Those of us who are fortunate enough to make a living feeding people have a very clear view of those who cannot afford to eat.”
Cat Cora’s foundation, Chefs for Humanity, is an alliance of culinary professionals and educators working with US and global organizations. It provides nutrition education, hunger relief, and emergency and humanitarian aid to reduce hunger across the world. She and her coworkers personify President Ronald Reagan’s philosophy when he said, “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”
Share Our Strength is a national organization whose mission is to make sure that no child in America grows up hungry. The country’s leading hunger-fighting organizations—Meals on Wheels, City Harvest, Feeding America Entertainment Council, and Food Banks—weave together networks of community groups, activists, and food programs in hundreds of communities in order to supply children and adults facing hunger with nutritious food where they live, learn, and play.
Chefs and restaurateurs Charlie Trotter and Marcus Samuelsson are two more among the fine fellows I mentioned. They have spent innumerable hours supporting nutrition education and hunger relief organizations.
Almost all major fast food chains have established charitable foundations as well. One of the most visible programs is the Ronald McDonald House for parents of children in hospitals. The PepsiCo Foundation, too, focuses on health and wellness, youth development, and higher education.
Other soft drink companies have established company foundations as well. The Coca-Cola Foundation, for instance, also concentrates its energies on education. Its programs include a scholars program that gives two-year college scholarships to high school seniors and provides extensive funding for many other causes. Most large fast food chains, junk food manufacturers, and soda makers give to or have started philanthropies.
The Arby’s Foundation, established in 1986, has focused on Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, which has helped children from primarily single-parent homes by matching them with adult volunteers. Domino’s Pizza supports the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants the wishes of children with terminal medical conditions. The Ingram- White Castle Foundation gives scholarships to college students.
In the soft drink world, Claude A. Hatcher, founder of Royal Crown Cola, established the Pichett-Hatcher Education Fund in 1933. By 1968, this fund had assets of almost $5 million and was one of the largest student loan funds of its kind in America.
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield were trailblazers in the food industry. They funded their foundation in 1985, with an endowment of Ben & Jerry’s stock. Their employee-based community action teams lead the foundation and distribute grants to surrounding communities.
Ben & Jerry’s has always held certain values, and these have permeated every aspect of their business. Their brilliant Heifer International Foundation enables even those who have little to give to offer a living gift that truly keeps on giving. The gift of a cow costs $500, but anyone can contribute just $50.00 for a cow share. The foundation helps children and families around the world receive the nutrients, training, and supplies they need to live more self-reliant lives. When, for example, a family receives a heifer, every morning there’s a glass of fresh, rich milk for the children to drink before heading off to school.
Likewise through Heifer International, one can buy a whole goat for $120 or contribute $10 for a share. Goats provide up to a gallon of rich, nutritious milk each day and don’t need large tracts of land for grazing. Sheep as well can be gifted for $120 each. Their wool can be used to make clothes and their manure turned into fertilizer. Finally, their mutton may provide a good dinner, while two sheep will produce even more little lambs.
There are still more animals available through Heifer International. Chickens require little, but give a lot. They don’t take up much space and can thrive on food scraps. A flock of little chicks costs just twenty dollars. Three rabbits cost sixty dollars, or ten dollars a share—and they breed, well, like rabbits. A pig too, might make a perfect present. And it is also possible to donate funds for a pair of ducks, a beehive, or the “Noah’s Ark” gift package ($5,000), which is a true farmyard of fifteen lady and gentleman pairs of food-producing animals and a hive of bees. Heifer International’s animals are like living savings accounts for struggling families.
All these organizations welcome full and part-time paid workers and volunteers to help with marketing, event planning, accounting, and other management skills. Learning about the many opportunities to help those in need is like discovering a Hansel and Gretel trail of crumbs; a foodie fairy tale with a happy ending. Small crumbs are transformed into loaves and fishes that feed many thousands.
Food Job: Advocate/Volunteer
Food for Thought
“FoodCorps places motivated leaders in limited-resource communities for a year of public service.” Explore the possibilities at FoodCorps.org.
As a 21-year-old, Wendy Kopp raised $2.5 million of start-up funding, hired a skeleton staff, and launched a grass-roots recruitment campaign. During Teach For America’s first year in 1990, 500 men and women began teaching in six low-income communities across the country. TeachForAmerica.org.
We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.
This is an extract from Food Jobs 2