September 19 – 25, 2010 ~ Great American Dine Out
I’ve lived on both sides of the tracks. I’ve lived both broke-as-hell-homeless and pretty well off in my quite full life.
I grew up in Helena, Montana. We were pretty well off growing up, in the upper echelons of local society, entertaining often. I remember, though, visiting friends – other kids who lived in single-wide mobile homes with broken vehicles in the yard. Today, knowing what I know, I wonder how many of them were hungry, especially in the middle of those wickedly bitter cold Montana winters.
I follow @hardlynormal on Twitter, a former Hollywood filmmaker named Mark Horvath, who now travels the country and world documenting and interviewing as many homeless families and folks as he can. Daily, there are stories he tells of young children, homeless and hungry.
In 2004 I traveled to Nicaragua, spending two weeks with a very rural and very poor rice plantation squatters village, helping them to construct a comedor, a community kitchen, from local fieldstone and wood. The comedor was being constructed to provide the children breakfast before school, with five years of donation from the Japanese government. While these were some of the happiest people I’ve ever been with, I witnessed the children hungry.
In 2005, six months after Katrina, I traveled with Mary Sue Milliken (Food Network Chef/Borders of Los Angeles), Floyd Cardoz (James Beard Chef/Restaurant Tabla NYC) and other top industry professionals to New Orleans. By day the participants of this Share Our Strength group bore witness to the total devastation and hunger; by night we discussed it over dinner with Chefs John Besh, Susan Spicer and others.
Nearly 17 million children in America struggle with hunger. That’s almost 1 in 4 kids.
In the world’s wealthiest nation, childhood hunger is simply unacceptable. Hunger impairs our children’s health, growth and development in significant and long-lasting ways.
I’ve long been a supporter of Share Our Strength – they are singularly my favorite organization. In 2007, at the National Restaurant Show Annual Dinner, I was fortunate to spend more one on one time with Billy Shore and his sister Debbie, when Billy was honored by the NRA. I’ve participated in eight Tastes Of The Nation as a contributing Chef and instigated the formation of the Maine chapter (we raised $50,000 from 200 contributors on our first event in 2005).
It only takes political will. Our restaurants are the cornerstone of our society. Restaurants are where we gather around to celebrate joys and sorrows, crossing political and theological fences to be in community with each other. Ending childhood hunger only takes consolidated political will.
Please join me September 19th to 25th for the Great American Dine Out. As part of the No Kid Hungry campaign, funds raised through the Great American Dine Out are granted out to anti-hunger organizations that demonstrate effective work to help end childhood hunger. For more info click here.
Jeffrey J Kingman, CEO