Nearly 17 million children in America – almost one in four – struggle with hunger. The families of these children have a hard time putting food on the table.
Remember when your mother told you to eat all of your food because there were hungry children in other countries? Well, there's actually a lot of hungry children in the U.S. It's a startling statistic, but one that the organization Share our Strength® has been working to abolish completely.
The group's official goal is to wipe out childhood hunger by 2015 with events like Taste of the Nation, culinary and beverage showcases in U.S. cities where 100% of the funds raised benefit local beneficiaries and No Kid Hungry™, Strength's own campaign. This year I was lucky to do the publicity for the Taste of Princeton event held last week at The Westin Princeton. And with over 265 tickets sold and the live and silent auctions, I'm happy to say that we raised over $36,000 and had one of the best seasons yet. View highlights from the event below. (Click here a listing of participating restaurants and wineries)
Share our Strength® also teamed up with the Grain Foods Foundation and Food Network star Melissa d'Ararbian in order to help provide children with healthy food. One of those initiatives is the Bread Art Project, created in 2009, which encourages consumers to personalize or create a piece of bread art and in turn the Grain Foods Foundation donates $1 to Share our Strength® for every piece of art created. Last year, the project raise over $25,000 and hopes to double that amount this year.
You may not think $1 can make an impact, but only $1 can provide 3 nutritious meals to a child, $25 can help feed that child for an entire month and $50 will supply a summer's worth of food. That's like 1 or 2 visits to the gas pump that can feed a child.
In order to share their message in the local NY/NJ area, Chuck Scofield, chief development officer at Share Our Strength®, and Judi Adams, president Grain Foods Foundation (pictured above) invited a group of us bloggers to meet Melissa and listen to how we can educate families on how eating healthy on a limited budget can both help to fight the hunger crisis.
Eating healthy includes breads and enriched & whole grains which provide fuel the body needs to get through the day. “Staples like bread and grains provide many essential nutrients our bodies need to stay healthy,” said Adams. “Plus, they are affordable and versatile items families can use to stretch their grocery dollars at home.”
In fact, did you know:
- Enriched grains are the primary source of folic acid in Americans’ diets and, according to the March of Dimes, have been credited with a 26 percent reduction in birth defects since the FDA mandated fortification of enriched grains in 1998
- Whole grains are a good source of complex carbohydrates, antioxidants, various vitamins and minerals, and are naturally low in fat
- Whole grains may help lower risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes as well as other
disorders, such as hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome and diverticular disease
- Many of the families facing hunger can’t afford basic grocery items like bread and grains, which provide many of the essential nutrients our bodies need to stay healthy and help fight diseases, diabetes, some cancers and birth defects
Healthy eating on a budget is the premise behind Melissa d'Arabian's hit Food Network show, Ten Dollar Dinners. The mother of 4 preschool aged children grew up budget-cooking out of necessity and has carried that practical thinking into her life and career.
Melissa shared some tips (and recipes) for incorporating more bread into your family's diet and how to stretch your dollar for a healthy meal:
- My kids like sandwiches without crusts, so I am constantly cutting them off sliced bread. Instead of throwing them away, I save them in resealable freezer bags. I turn them into “dippers” which my kids use for dunking in jam...
- Check the bulk aisle for more unusual grains to try when they go on sale. Quinoa is uber-hip right now. It is a complete protein and the crunchy, nutty taste is crave-worthy. In addition to rice, mix things up by trying bulgur, millet or couscous.
- When it comes to being prepared on-the-go, don’t forget that pretzels and crackers are great snacks for kids, and easily portable in a zippered plastic bag or container.
As I mentioned above, the Grain Foods Foundation is running the Bread Art Project with a goal to double the funds raised last year to support Share our Strength®. So far, they have raised $20,000 and there is still time to enter your bread creations by the June 30th deadline. To make a personalized piece of bread art, visit gowiththegrain.org. Follow GoWithTheGrain on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.
Here I am with my 2 year old Maddy and Amy from Frugal-Mama.com talking to Melissa about the joys of pregnancy!