Four ways to feed the hungry

Thanksgiving Skype

Each Thanksgivingmy family makes it a priority to have dinner together. Even when I was living abroad for my first holiday away from home, my dad booted up Skype so that I could join in the festivities virtually. For us, it’s not just the meal that’s important. It’s taking time off of work, turning off our cell phones, and coming together in one place. We start by going around the table and saying what we are most grateful for. It is never difficult to think of or name our blessings—the most obvious of which is the food in front of us. It gives us a way to celebrate while satisfying our basic human need.

At Thanksgiving, more than any other time, it’s obvious there is enough food to go around. (And around and around.) While our own family’s table bursts at the seam with turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie, I know there are many in my own backyard of San Francisco going to sleep hungry and cold. And the number of homeless and hungry families is only growing with unemployment at a staggering 9.1 percent. That’s nearly 14 million Americans.

This Thanksgiving season, my appeal is simple. Fill someone else’s belly.

  1. Give – Donate to organizations that feed the hungry every day.
  2. Volunteer – Make it part of your family tradition to visit a soup kitchen or shelter or help out at a food bank, and combine spending time together with doing something meaningful.
  3. Share your meal – If you know a family that is struggling, invite them to join yours for dinner or stop by their home with leftovers. (Your church or a nearby school may know of a family if you don’t.)
  4. Click on The Hunger SiteBookmark the page, click daily, and sponsors pay for food.

However you choose to contribute, make it last. Volunteer throughout the year or consider making your donation monthly recurring. In these tough times, it’s no secret that hunger is an everyday problem for many.

>>Like us on Facebook for more tips and ideas on how you can give back during the holidays.
>>Visit JustGive for tips on Other Ways to Give.


— Michelle Koffler, Marketing Coordinator

Famine – It’s a small world, after all

I am reminded daily just how small our world can be. Most recently, an earthquake on the other side of the globe could have contaminated the fish I eat for dinner or the California coastal water I swim in. Japanese trading delays affected the lines of iPad impatience outside our local Apple stores—providing a front row seat to how connected our modern world is and how faraway disasters can have ripple effects that touch us in unexpected ways.

Seemingly back to back, a stream of disasters have headlined the US media: Haiti, The Gulf Coast oil spill, earthquake and nuclear contamination in Japan, tornadoes in the South – and now the horn of Africa drought.  The UN has declared famine in several regions of war-torn Somalia during the continent’s worst drought in more than 60 years. This is a dire prognosis, given the limited aid available/allowed by the current al-Shabab regime and the mass migration of people fleeing to neighboring countries for refuge that may not exist.

Photo Credit: Business Daily

Not as many people have responded to the Somali famine as previous disasters or requests for aid. Perhaps we feel helpless, that our dollars don’t make a difference, or that we’ve donated to other causes and are already stretched thin. In the meantime, 3.2 million people, nearly half the population of Somalia, need immediate life saving assistance. To date, more than 29,000 children have already died and another 640,000 are malnourished.

Photo Credit: Associated Press, Zuydam

While living abroad, I participated in the 40-Hour Famine with World Vision Australia, where I raised money by not eating for 40 hours. It was a real life feeling of what it would be like to live and function without sustenance – luckily one that ended after a mere 2 days.

40 Hour Famine Crew at the South Australian Global Leadership Convention

Millions of people both domestically and abroad are not so fortunate.

IMAGE CREDIT: FAMINE EARLY WARNING SYSTEMS NETWORK & FOOD SECURITY AND NUTRITION ANALYSIS UNIT

I am immediately struck by the current crisis in Africa and consider it to be a GLOBAL concern and priority that children are dying of starvation in a world where there is and should be enough food for everyone. We all need to be involved, and take it personally.

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

Support charities providing assistance on the ground: 

In our ever-growing and connected “small world,” my actions – and yours –can make things better.

>> Wondering how much to give? JustGive helps you get started. Consider making your gift an automatic monthly donation (just click recurring).

>> Start a charity registry and do your own famine fundraising!

>> Keep the conversation going on Facebook and Twitter – inspire your friends to be part of the solution.


— Michelle Koffler, Marketing Coordinator

This week’s disasters affect thousands in South Pacific and Indonesia

An 8.0 magnitude earthquake shook the South Pacific, triggering tsunami waves that damaged most of the Samoan Islands. Numerous businesses and homes were destroyed in it’s wake. The current death toll is over 100, with many more injured or missing. Numbers are expected to rise as rescue workers search through debris.

CNN.com reports the White House has declared a major disaster, making federal funding available. The US is currently sending planes with assistance to affected areas.

“I thought it was the end of the world,” said Dr. Salamo Laumoli, director of health services in American Samoa. “I have never felt an earthquake like that before.”

In Indonesia, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake left over 1,100 dead, 2,181 injured and thousands still unaccounted for. More than 2,650 buildings have been damaged in the area and landslides have disrupted power and communications.

Your donation to the following charities will help provide basic services for  those in need to restart their lives.

Americares

International Federation of Red Cross

Mercy Corps

Save The Children

World Vision

You may also search the JustGive Guide for additional Disaster Relief charities.

Looking for a way to make a difference without a big budget? When getting together with friends for dinner this weekend, choose a less expensive restaurant. Everyone can pitch in the $5 or $10 saved as a donation to a charity that will provide food and clean water to those in need.

– Sarah Myers, Program Manager