September: GO ORANGE & Dine Out for No Kid Hungry!

Happy September friends!  All across the U.S. organizations and volunteers are going orange and dedicating this month to raising awareness about hunger in our country.   September is No Kid Hungry month, an exciting time as the Dine Out initiative takes off!

Go Orange

What’s Dine Out?  Dine Out for No Kid Hungry allows people to fight hunger with their forks as thousands of participating restaurants across the country are offering promotions that will directly benefit the No Kid Hungry campaign.  Will you pledge to Dine Out?  In 2012 more than 8,200 restaurants were involved raising $5.9 million for the campaign to end childhood hunger in America by 2015.

Visit this map to see where you can dine out this month!

Dine Out for No Kid Hungry 

Dine Out for No Kid Hungry

And when you eat out feel free to twEAT out!  A nationwide twEAT out will be taking place September 16th and we’d love your help.  All month long feel free to tweet using the hashtag #NoKidHungry and tweet to @DineOutNKH to let us know where you participated!

Thank you for your support in helping to get the word out, happy twEATing :)


#DoMore24 turns into #DoMore48

At Share Our Strength’s Conference of Leaders earlier this week I was lucky to attend a session on using social media to build communities and ignite movements by Amanda Hite of BTC revolutions.

Following this invigorating discussion of the power of collective communities, I was again impressed by my own community in DC this week with the #DoMore24 campaign. #DoMore24 speaks to the power of social media, but something even better happened yesterday. The site wasn’t ready to handle all the generosity coming its way. After a slew of technical difficulties, a total of $916,483.00 has been raised! But here’s my favorite part, the power of the crowd has extended the campaign! And so the website now reads:

“Due to its host-site technical difficulties, which has caused slow transaction speeds, United Way of the National Capital Area announces that it is extending its Do More 24 crowdsourcing campaign by one day. It also is adding $24,000 in prize money for participating nonprofits.”

And to provide you a little background on #DoMore24, funded and operated by United Way of the National Capital Area:

“Do More 24 is a 24-hour online fundraiser for nonprofits throughout the national capital area. The event will take place on Thursday, June 6, 2013. In addition to direct donations from local residents, participating nonprofits will be given a chance to compete for award dollars based on how well they are able to mobilize their supporters and spread the word about the great work they do. Since Do More 24 is an online fundraiser, it is targeted to a younger demographic of donors – the next generation of online giving.”
It’s a great tool to educate yourself on the work being done by nonprofits and to find a new place to volunteer in the following areas:

  • Arlington
  • Alexandria
  • DC
  • Fairfax/Falls Church
  • Loudoun County
  • Prince William County
  • Montgomery County
  • Prince George’s County

Some of my favorite local DC charities participating follow:

Capital Area Food Bank

Mary’s Center

Martha’s Table

DC Central Kitchen

Bread for the City

Food & Friends


Friendship Place

Enjoy the extra day of #DoMore24!

Today is World Hunger Day! 5/28/13

Today is World Hunger Day.  Here are some facts and figures from Results:

- “Food is necessary to ensure good nutrition, but it is not sufficient.  A child with a full belly is not necessarily getting the right balance of nutritious food and vitamins necessary for healthy growth and development.  The diet of poor children in developing countries often consists of just a staple starch (like rice or millet) and legumes (peas, lentils) with very little protein or adequate vegetables.”

- “The human and economic costs of undernutrition are enormous.  One third of the preventable deaths of young children are due to inadequate nutrition – that’s 2.5 million kids dying annually.”

- “One in four children (165 million in 2011) under the age of five is stunted, meaning that chronic undernutrition has resulted in serious and often irreversible physical and cognitive damage.”

- “Last year, a panel of Nobel Laureate economists and other experts ranked child nutrition first on their list of cost-effective investments to improve global welfare.”

- “Several countries have demonstrated that real progress is possible, even in very difficult circumstances.  Nepal is one of the poorest countries in Asia and emerged from a decade of conflict with a national peace accord in 2006.  Since then, it has expanded nutrition and health services for women and children, and reduced stunting among children by 16 percent since 2006.  In 2001, Tanzania began a national campaign to reach children with supplemental vitamin A, and has consistently reached over 90 percent of children in need.  This and related health and nutrition efforts were instrumental in Tanzania cutting child mortality in half since 2001.  In Niger, one of the poorest countries on earth, a project to provide iron supplements and de-worming medication, and educate mothers about breastfeeding, reduced anemia from 40 percent to 7 percent among pregnant women.”

On June 8, in advance of the G8 Summit, the United Kingdom is convening a Nutrition for Growth summit to accelerate global progress on nutrition.  Donor and developing countries, private foundations, non-governmental organizations, and private industry will gather to make specific commitments to investing in undernutrition.  Leading U.S. humanitarian and advocacy organizations have called on President Obama and his administration to join this global effort by pledging $1.35 billion to nutrition efforts over the next three years.

Here are hashtags relevant to the current conversations: #worldhungerday #endhungernow #talkpoverty

Please join or follow the conversation!

Graffiato’s Industry Takeover Night

When the chef community in DC comes together it’s always impressive and just a few hours ago was no exception. Just when I think I’ve been dazzled by the District, it never ceases to amaze me.

Chef Mike Isabella’s Graffiato opened almost two years ago in June of 2011. An homage to his Italian-American background, it sits in DC’s bustling Chinatown neighborhood (707 6th St NW). I’ve now had the opportunity to live here for over six years as a young professional. Watching the restaurant scene evolve, new restaurants opening left and right, I’ve always thought that chefs in DC have a good gig. I’m a little biased because I’ve worked on the volunteer committee for Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation for the last four years and the chef’s council continues to top their generosity year after year. As a member of the chef’s council Mike Isabella supports the No Kid Hungry campaign and a bevy of other charitable causes in DC.

What is Industry Takeover Night you ask? Well, since the beginning of this year Isabella has invited both chef friends and mixologists to co-host industry night. Complimentary snacks are served on the first floor pizza bar from 10pm-1am and open to the public. This month’s guest chefs were Kyle Bailey, the Executive Chef of Birch & Barley and ChurchKey, as well as Tiffany MacIsaac, the Executive Pastry Chef at Neighborhood Restaurant Group. The two recently opened the well-received GBD (Golden Brown Delicious), serving up fried chicken and fresh doughnuts just south of DuPont Circle. Last but not least was Mark Rosati, the Culinary Development Manager for Shake Shack.

So I practiced being a night owl and if there was any Monday night to stay out after a jam packed weekend this was the one. As I somehow managed to position myself on the corner of a ravenous crowd I never expected to see what happened next. Right at 10pm a restaurant filled to the brim began to feed an entire floor of 150+ guests decadent late night snacks. The dedicated crew of what looked to be well over twenty (chefs, sou chefs, line cooks, bartenders and bussers) served up a feast fit for a king. The bar on the first floor stretches from the front to the back of the restaurant and the counters were full of food for a straight hour. My mouth may have been slightly agape at the generosity I was witness to.

Earlier in the day Chef Kyle Bailey posted a photo detailing some of the many thrilling dishes to be served up to the crowd. Of course, there was to be no shortage of doughnuts or fried chicken. The large wood oven was churning out pizza after pizza as guests chowed down on his roast suckling pig, crudo, fried chicken bao, cavatelli, duck hearts and pickled quail eggs! I thought I actually might have stepped into a DC version of Willy Wonka’s wonderland. And after close to a solid hour of non-stop food production about ten cases of MacIsaac’s delicious doughnuts were splayed out over every available inch of counter space.

Goat cheese cavatelli with peas, fava, spring onion romanesco, truffle fonduta, grated daikon

Chef Kyle Bailey putting the final touches on Goat cheese cavatelli with peas, fava, spring onion romanesco, truffle fonduta, grated daikon

Pickled carrots, cukes, mint, cilantro, sambal mayo

Fried Chicken Bao: Pickled carrots, cukes, mint, cilantro, sambal mayo

Chef Kyle Bailey's Prep List

Chef Kyle Bailey’s Prep List

Pizza Prep

Pizza Prep

Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken

Goat Cheese Cavatelli

Goat Cheese Cavatelli

Round 1 of Tiffany MacIsaac's decadent doughnuts!

Round 1 of Tiffany MacIsaac’s decadent doughnuts!

Round 2 of doughnuts

Round 2 of doughnuts

Doughnuts galore!

Doughnuts galore!

Chocolate Creme Filled/Chocolate Glaze topped with Cocoa Krispies

Chocolate Creme Filled/Chocolate Glaze topped with Cocoa Krispies

I missed Shake Shack’s offerings post-doughnut, but I’ll be sure to visit them this month as they are participating in the 2nd Annual Great American Shake Sale benefiting Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. Here’s what you have to do:

1. Go to @shakeshack in May.
2. Donate $2 or more to @nokidhungry.
3. Receive a card (valued at $5) for a free shake on your next visit.

Last year they raised over $135,000 and are shooting for $150,000 this month!

Here’s the Custard Calendar for the month so you can plan your visit:

Shake Shack's May Custard Calendar!

Shake Shack’s May Custard Calendar!

Watching the chefs cook last night was magic. June 3rd is certainly on my calendar! Pop over for a breakfast donut & coffee at GBD! #payitforward

2013: Perspectives on Poverty

As we stand ready to tackle another year, what does the face of poverty look like in 2013?

A report put together by the Working Poor Project states that “nearly one-third of working families now struggle, up from 31 percent in 2010 and 28 percent in 2007, when the recession began.”

In short, the title of the following article in Salon aptly describes the current situation our nation faces: Poverty Increasingly Means the Employed

With SNAP’s all-time record high 46 million participants, hunger is all around us and growing.  As noted in Mark Bittman’s article Hunger in Plain Sight, food stamps provide a budget of approximately $130/month.  In most cases this is inadequate. In an effort to bring attention to working towards a sustainable food system hundreds of anti-hunger advocates have taken a week to participate in the SNAP Challenge to raise awareness about the difficulties faced when attempting to subsist on roughly $4/day.  In December, Newark, NJ Mayor Corey Booker garnered nationwide attention when he took the #SNAPchallenge.  His final blog on the experience provided valuable perspectives on what happens when one is confronted with a “lack of sufficient, safe and nutritious food”.  Mayor Booker utilized an eloquent quote by Eleanor Roosevelt that could not be more appropriate for the task at hand:

“In small places, close to home—so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”—Eleanor Roosevelt

May you find joy in nourishing others in your own unique way this year!

It’s #GivingTuesday, What Are You Giving?

Hello friends!  Today I’m excited to share a new movement with you called #GivingTuesday.  What is it?  Well, as most of you know we start the holiday season with a flurry of advertisements for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  In a new effort to inaugurate the holiday season with a reminder of how important it is to give back in whatever way best suits your life, some amazing organizations have gotten together this year to start #GivingTuesday!

The mission statement of #GivingTuesday is as follows: “#GivingTuesday™ is a campaign to create a national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season. It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support nonprofit organizations.” You can take a look and learn more about the founding partners here.

Take a minute to check out what’s going on around the country today at!

And remember, whether it’s giving of your time by volunteering in your community this holiday season or by making a charitable donation to your chosen cause, every person can make a difference. Get out and get involved in giving!

Insight into D.C.’s response during #Sandy

It’s only been a week since Hurricane Sandy descended on the East Coast.  There are still many suffering from the effects of the storm, especially in NY and NJ, but also in our own neighborhoods.  See the article from the Washington Post by Tim Karman about D.C. Central Kitchen’s response to the storm:

Feeding the poor and homeless during Hurricane Sandy

In addition, the article mentions a resource for all residents in D.C. in need of emergency supplies or free meals, check it out:

I am grateful to live in such a giving community.  Get out and volunteer before the year is out!

Happy Halloween!

Just thought I’d do a blast from the past by posting one of my favorite childhood costumes.  Yes, what you’re seeing is me as a bag of groceries.  My mom was pretty creative! I suppose this should have been a clear sign of my future as a foodie!  Happy Halloween!


Everbody Eats When They Come to My House

As Hurricane Sandy blows through DC I thought I’d give you a song about food instead of rain.  When I’m cooking and feeling silly I throw on this song and dance around the kitchen.  I also love the message that “Everybody Eats When They Come to My House” since I love to share the food I cook.

Cab Calloway was an American jazz singer and band leader who performed at the Cotton Club in Harlem in the 1930s and 40s.  I can’t quite remember how my sister and I stumbled on this song, but in the library of songs about food, this is one of our favorites.   If you haven’t heard “Everybody Eats When They Come to My House”, you’re in for a treat!  I thought I’d post this for all of us #cookingthroughsandy.  The storm seems to be picking up here in DC, safe wishes for everyone being impacted by the #frankenstorm!

Here are the lyrics!  My fav line is ” Chili con care for Barney”:

Have a banana, Hannah
Try the salami, Tommy
Get with the gravy, Davy
Everybody eats when they come to my house
Try a tomato, Plato
Here’s cacciatore, Dory
Taste of bologna, Tony
Everybody eats when they come to my house
I’ve fixed your favorite dishes
Hopin’ this good food fills ya
Work my hands to the bone in the kitchen alone
You better eat if it kills ya
Pass me a pancake, Mandrake
Havin’ a derby, Irvy
Lookin the fendel, Mendel
Everybody eats when they come to my house
Hannah, Davy, Tommy, Dora, Mandrake
Everybody eats when they come to my house
Pasta fazoula, Tallulah
Oh, do have a bagel, Fagel
Now don’t be so bashful, Nashville
Everybody eats when they come to my house
Hey, this is a party, Marty
Well, you get the cherry, Jerry
Now look, don’t be so picky, Mickey
Cause everybody eats when they come to my house
All of my friends are welcome
Don’t make me coax you, moax you
Eat the tables, the chairs, the napkins, who cares?
You gotta eat if it chokes ya
Oh, do have a knish, Nisha
Pass him the latke, Matke
Chili con carne for Barney
Everybody eats when they come to my house
Face, Buster, share, chops, fump
Everybody eats when they come to my house

What’s your food story? Food Day 2012 Wrap Up!

At its core, Food Day is about our nation celebrating the conversations taking place about increasing the healthy, affordable and sustainable food that’s available for consumption across our country.  In only its second year, it has become a forum to come together and discuss achievements we see around us in the our country’s food system and a valuable day to share ideas and reflect on the food issues many in our country have faced, are facing and will face in the future.  In short, a conversation that needs to continue daily.

Because of my ambitions to bring an increasing awareness to efforts taking place to end hunger, the comments from the panel discussion that resonated most with me last night came from A.G. Kawamura, farmer and former California Secretary of Agriculture.  Before I summarize all that I took from yesterday’s discussions at the Capitol, I’ll share with you two quotes from Mr. Kawamura because they are such relevant “food for thought” for all of us.  The first came about within a discussion on whether we would have the ability to feed a world population that will balloon to over nine billion by the year 2050.  I was impressed that Mr. Kawamura acknowledged that we must confront hunger as it exists today, broadening the scope of the conversation from the nation to the world, by saying that right now in 2012 “we have the capacity to feed the world, but we don’t have the will.”  This statement for me not only acts as a powerful reminder of how far we have to go, but it also set up in my mind another goal that Food Day can stand for: an end to hunger.  Mr. Kawamura’s closing remark to the founder of Food Day, Michael Jacobson, summarized that goal exactly: “Won’t it be amazing the day we get to say, we fed everyone in the world today!”  That was where the conversation concluded last night, but I’ll take you back to where it started.

Capitol Autumn 2012, view from Cannon House Office Building

The afternoon began as I scurried out of the office to make my way to the Cannon House Office Building.  I placed a quick call to Grandpa to remind him that Chellie Pingree was the host of this year’s marquee event for Food Day 2012 titled “The Future of Food: 2050″.  My dad’s side of the family hails from Maine.  More specifically, my Grandpa comes from Long Island, which is one of the major islands located just off the coast of Portland in the Casco Bay.  Congresswoman Pingree has lived in another small island community in Maine for most of her life.  So if I ran into her, Grandpa told me I was to insert a bit of island humor into the Food Day conversations and ask if she was a “herring choker”.  Before you scratch your head, laugh or google this expression, I can tell you directly from the “eighty-four years young Mainer” that the old adage comes from the joke that people from the islands only eat fish, especially herring.  This would have been a wonderful talking point for the movement to “eat real” and, as you can imagine, Grandpa was tickled pink at the mere prospect of me uttering this phrase.  Sadly, Congresswoman Pingree made her introduction by video, so I’ll have to wait to try it out on another Mainer.

Food Day #FOF2050 Reception, Cannon House Office Building

I was lucky to attend the two panel discussions at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday night, organized by Michael Jacobson, the Founder of Food Day, and CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest).  The talks focused on examining how the food system will evolve over the course of the next thirty-eight years.  The first panel had a focus on diet and food, and was moderated by April Fulton of NPR’s The Salt.  The panelists were: Eric Meade, Vice President and Senior Futurist, Institute for Alternative Futures; Andrea Thomas, Senior Vice President for Sustainability, Walmart; and David Katz, Founding Director, Prevention Research Center, Yale University.

The second panel was focused on agriculture and was moderated by food writer Jane Black.  The panelists were: Catherine Badgley, Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan; A.G. Kawamura, farmer (Orange County Produce, LLC), former CA Secretary of Agriculture; and Danielle Nierenberg, Director, Nourishing the Planet Project, Worldwatch Institute.

So what were the takeaways?

The first panel started off by acknowledging determining factors that will always be prominent when it comes to decision making for our personal diet: taste, cost of food, convenience, and nutrition.  According to David Katz, we can eliminate up to 80% of chronic disease with just our feet and our forks.  It’s extremely difficult to change a culture that has evolved to value the couch and make food the centerpiece of the majority of our social interactions.  Essentially, whether we’d like to admit it or not, this does not always work in our favor for physical activity and eating for survival.  We were reminded that our culture will always be a medium of our own devising.  A prime example is how we’ve long associated wealth with food in the creation of the expressions “breadwinner” and “bringing home the bacon” (cue aha moment).  Katz also discussed the ramifications of a “disease care system” that does not promote long-term prevention.  He made the assessment that we need health advisors as much as wealth advisors simply because health is a form of wealth.  In conclusion, nurturing and protecting our health should always be in the spotlight.

Moving on to the panel on agriculture, I found Danielle Nierenberg’s assessment of four major changes we will see as we approach 2050 to be refreshing.  First, she sees a trend towards preventing food waste.  Second, an increase in the participation of youth in agriculture.  Agriculture and understanding where your food comes from is extremely economically and intellectually stimulating for children.  Third, the steady growth of urban farming and last but not least, an agriculture system that will have to be increasingly resistant to our ever changing climates.  Badgley provided the fascinating statistic that the U.S. spends the least of all developed countries on our food, roughly 10% of our income.  (This in large part is due to the massive amount of cheaply produced processed food that is consumed.)  A.G. Kawamura was able to discuss how edible landscaping has taken off in California and also mentioned the state’s “Garden in Every School Program” which reinforces the idea that all young people need to be engaged with agriculture.  I’m looking forward to researching the project he co-chairs, Solutions for the Land, which is working to “develop a sustainable roadmap for 21st-century agriculture.”  At one point, Kawamura suggested we shift from the term agriculture by moving towards using the terms life systems and resources in our dialogue.

As you can see, Food Day’s panels touched on an array of subjects.  If you’re reading this you know we’re fortunate to be living in a time in which the technology at our fingertips affords more of us the opportunity to have an expanding access to and interest in the food issues on our collective American table.  We all have different priorities, ranging from whether we’re looking to achieve a healthier diet for ourselves and our families, a better understanding of farming practices and where our food comes from, or a goal of increased awareness about how we can better work together to end hunger in our communities, nation and world.  However, the achievement of being connected comes along with an intrinsic responsibility to use this newfound power to do social good.  Always remember, we are the innovators and we can write our own food story, we all have one.  Happy Food Day!

I’ll be continuing the Food Day celebration in DC in my own way this weekend at Wangari Gardens.  In conjunction with the DC State Fair, Wangari Gardens is hosting their Fall Harvest Festival from 12-6 this Saturday, October 27th.  Bring a fall-themed or fall-produce containing dish for the potluck at 1pm and hang out with new friends growing food in your community.  Wangari Gardens is located between Kenyon and Irving Streets NW, east of Park Place. It’s accessible by the various H bus lines and is a 10-minute walk east of the Columbia Heights metro (green/yellow lines). Details here!  Hope to see you there, the more the merrier!

Me with my pecan pie, DC State Fair 2012