Healthy Hunger Relief Builds Community

I have experienced hunger in my life, but surely not the kind that 1 in 6 people in this country experience daily. My stomach may growl from time to time, and when it does, I feed it with healthy food. Sadly, for almost 50 million Americans that is just not the case.

There are many who fight hunger day in and day out and since I am a solution-oriented kind of gal, I made the choice to hop on the healthy hunger relief bandwagon with Superfood Drive in honor of FoodDay 2014, a national movement to inspire Americans to change their diet and food policies. Hey, giving back is important!

Much to my surprise, in my small, rural and fairly affluent community, the local East Hampton Food Pantry feeds over 31,000 people per year—in other words, an estimated 12,000 households experience food insecurity or 1 in 5 children! Yikes, count me in to help…

The week leading up to FoodDay 2014 marked the beginning of our First Annual Hamptons Superfood Drive where, together with a small group of impassioned community leaders, I had the great opportunity to speak with Amagansett School and Ross Lower School to inspire parents, educators and the student body to collect healthy non-perishables (versus pantry remnants) for those in need of nourishment.

But it didn’t stop there. On FoodDay (October 24th), students from Ross visited the pantry where my dear friend and fellow chef, Joseph Realmuto and I orchestrated a cooking demonstration using donated items and Superfood Drive’s incredibly healthy recipes such as pumpkin hummusblack bean and avocado salad, and healthy tuna salad.

The children had the chance to ask questions, exhibiting their deep (and unexpected) connection to hunger in our own backyard. They posed the following to Gabrielle Scarpaci, the Pantry's Executive Director:

Q: What do people do if they don’t know how to cook?
A: We provide recipes for our pantry recipients when they ask and do our best to answer basic cooking questions. We also hope to offer cooking demonstrations to our recipients in the near future.

Q: Why don't people receive healthy food?
A: We aim to offer healthy food, and oftentimes we do, but the reality is that any food is better than no food so we must take what is given. That is why educating people about giving healthier options is so important.

Q: What if they want to cook but don’t have the right equipment?
A: We work with our local community to get equipment donated such as pots and pans. 

Q: Do all people who receive food have a home? And if not, what do they do?
A: Some people are in fact homeless and some even live in cars. The food given can be eaten out of a can, bag or box so even without a place to live people can eat.

Q: Do you give food to a person who drives up in a fancy car?
A: We don’t judge anyone who comes to our door. So no matter what people drive, where they live or what they wear, we give food if it is needed. Nobody can ever truly understand another’s problems.

And then the cooking began with each child engaging in chopping, assembling and tasting. They then sorted through the food thoughtfully donated for the Superfood Drive learning valuable lessons about healthy hunger relief and what they can do to make a difference. Each child represented possibility and herein is the true meaning of community and making a difference.

These kids are my budding change agents (click on photo gallery below) and never forget that small changes can make big everyday differences! Learn more about how you can host a Superfood Drive in your community and I urge you to get involved in FoodDay2015.