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Gifts in Action: An Update from The Lunchbox Fund

The Lunchbox Fund

“This is what you did together: you all have literally turned the love of food into real food. And that will change these children’s lives.”


I’m writing with an exciting and heartwarming update from The Lunchbox Fund! Since raising $5,000 in February during our Feed South Africa campaign, they’ve already implemented a new program to support a group of children at an early development childhood center (ECDC) in Franschoek Valley, outside Cape Town.

ECDCs play a very important role in South Africa, especially in the informal settlements. Very often women will not have the money to cover childcare while they work, and will leave that child with someone who might put them at risk, be careless, inexperienced, young or just unable to provide the child with proper care. Seeing this, women in the townships have created small day care centers, often rooms in the back yards of their small homes or shacks, and take the children in for a nominal fee, offering basic school lessons, safety, education, and food during the day.

A recent survey of primary schoolchildren from a rural area in KwaZulu-Natal Province, revealed a great number of children with persistent micronutrient deficiencies including inadequate vitamin A status (40%) anemia (28%), and iodine deficiency (97%). By sourcing foods from a manufacturer and wholesale provider of low-cost, long life, nutritionally fortified, culturally appropriate foods, The Lunchbox Fund has been able to address the micronutrient deficiencies and provide a nutritionally balanced meal. It also removes the burden of providing food from the ECDC, allowing them to invest their resources in books, toys, kitchen equipment, and aides. The daily meal provided encourages parents to leave their children to be cared for and educated, rather than wandering the streets.

Beginning on March 1, The Lunchbox Fund began providing meals to an additional 208 children at ECDC’s in the Franschoek Valley, a food-producing region that attracts migrant workers, and where the need for nutritional support of children is huge. Our $5,000 has been allocated to The Franschoek Early Childhood Development Program, and will be providing 20,000 meals over the next year to approximately 75-100 children. How amazing!


Last week, I also received a personal email from Topaz Page-Green, The Lunchbox Fund’s founder.

“On behalf of The Lunchbox Fund we really want to Thank You for your incredible effort. We are so proud and grateful to be the recipient of your generous and energetic initiative.  It is truly not often that people follow through with what they set out to do - So what you have created stands out, successfully, a cut above and beyond the rest.

Thank You Thank You Thank You. 20,000 meals goes a long way.”


I hope you all feel incredibly inspired by what we’ve accomplished together. All of your posts, tweets, Facebook messages, and donations have made a real, tangible impact in the lives of children in South Africa whose lives will never be the same.

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Welcome to The Giving Table 2.0!

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F  O   U   N   D   E   R   '   S    L  E   T   T   E  R   .   J  A   N   1  4  ,  2  0  1  4


D E A R   B L O G G E R S ,   S U P P O R T E R S ,   A N D   F R I E N D S , 

The Giving Table is back! And we have some big goals for 2014.

To those of you who have been following this journey from the beginning, I appreciate your patience immensely as I've prepared for the next iteration of this movement. After a highly successful social action campaign last April, I took some much-needed time to consider our lessons learned,  dream about what can be achieved moving forward, plan a campaign strategy, and redesign the website. So thank you.

I hope you're just as excited as I am about what's on the horizon! 

Our mission of doing good with food hasn't changed, but a new giving model will help ensure that the impact we make in 2014 will be felt worldwide. You can read more about it here, as well as take a peek at The Giving Table's manifesto and FAQ sections.


F U N D I N G   T H E   F O O D   S Y S T E M 

After much consideration, I've decided to host future campaigns on the Causes platform. Causes is integrated with Facebook, the largest social media site in the world, and has the potential to draw even more participants to our activism and fundraising campaigns. If you have a Facebook account (and I'm guessing most of you do), you can access Causes seamlessly. Stop by today and support us! ("Supporting" a cause is the Facebook equivalent of "liking" a page.)

You may have noticed a new word: fundraising. Causes supports donations, which means we'll have the ability to directly impact food projects throughout the world. Through strategic partnerships with food nonprofits, bloggers will donate their posts to causes with tangible results, and micro-transactions from readers (less than $20), offer enormous potential to raise significant funding.

Consider this: Collectively, we have hundreds of thousands of readers. If just 1,000 of them donated $10, we'd have $10,000 for charity! By working together, it really is that simple, and I can't wait to get started.

If you're ready to join The Giving Table in 2014, here's how you can help.


G E T   I N V O L V E D  -  T H E   L U N C H B O X   F U N D   2 . 1 0 . 1 4 

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The first campaign of 2014 will be held on FEBRUARY 10, 2014. Here's everything you need to know to get involved.

1. Visit the campaign page and pledge to donate your post. 

2. Review the guidelines to prepare your recipe and post.

3. Tell your friends, invite fellow bloggers, and help spread the word!


T H E   N E W   W E B S I T E 

I'm thrilled about our new space, and hope it inspires you to get more involved in food philanthropy. The photography was generously provided by my friend and fellow food blogger Erin Alderson, and I can't imagine the site without her spectacular images.

As you reacquaint yourself, here are a few places you'll want to visit.

About usBrush up on our mission, manifesto, and find answers to your questions.

Activism. Learn more about our giving model and what it truly means to "donate a post" to The Giving Table.

Social Media. Stop by the Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, and check out our offerings on Pinterest.

Newsletter. If you haven't signed up for the newsletter, I encourage you to do so. This will ensure you'll stay updated about news and future campaigns.


Cheers to 2014, and all that we'll accomplish together!

Very sincerely, 

Nicole Gulotta
Founder, The Giving Table

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Breaking News: Farm Bill Fails on House Floor

“The price of a farm bill should not be making more people hungry in America,” -Rep. Jim McGovern 

Last week, the proposed Farm Bill FAILED on the House floor by a vote of 195-234.

There are many unanswered questions about where we go from here and what it means if a farm bill is not approved later this year, but for now, it's worth relishing in the fact that this time around, the farm bill didn't simply sail through Congress.

This farm bill proposal included over $20 billion in cuts to SNAP (formerly food stamps), $2.5 billion in cuts to food aid, and policy changes that would have substantially increased hunger for years to come. The House bill also included amendments that would have instituted a lifetime ban on SNAP for ex-offenders and imposed harsher work requirements on all beneficiaries.

For the past few months, individuals (like all of you who participated in Food Bloggers Against Hunger and sent letters to your representatives), and numerous organizations have been fighting to make a difference in our food system, and although there is still much to accomplish, our collective voice is starting to be heard.

Here are a few responses from around the web:

Washington Post: The House farm bill unexpectedly failed. So what happens next?

New York Times: House Rejects Farm Bill as Food Stamp Cuts Prove Divisive

Huffington Post: Food Stamp Cuts Derail Farm Bill

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Why Chipotle's GMO Labeling is Good for Consumers

AN OPEN LETTER TO CHIPOTLE

Dear Chipotle,

We've come to know you as a leader in sustainable fast food. Your business model includes unconventional practices in the fast food industry, including sourcing ingredients from local farmers, avoiding antibiotics in your meat, and cooking food fresh, on-site every day. We hope to see more companies embracing these strategies in the future.

When you released your ingredients statement yesterday, including a listing of the GMOs found in your products, my first reaction was anger. How can a sustainable fast food company use GMOs? Isn't it against everything they stand for? Chipotle is the only fast food chain I'm willing to eat at. What will I do on nights when I don't want to cook?

When I realized that the ingredients I often consume, including brown rice, crispy chips, and tortillas, contained GMOs, I contemplated what my life might look like without Chipotle. I'll boycott Chipotle, I thought! I'll make burritos at home instead, using ingredients I can source back to the farm they came from! I'll make my own tortillas from scratch! I'll start a petition! This went on for several minutes, but after reading through your statement and really considering it, I came to a different conclusion.

Transparency across all sectors is something consumers are demanding and companies are wrestling with. It's easier to hide behind websites and office buildings, and not come clean. But you chose the path of resistance. You risked losing customers. You chose to do the right thing.

Not only have you clearly stated which ingredients contain GMOs, you also outlined the measures you're taking to eliminate GMOs from your business. Switching from soybean to sunflower oil, working to improve the shelf life of tortillas naturally, and reducing artificial preservatives are important steps.

But even more importantly, you gave me a choice. As a consumer, your transparency has empowered me to make informed decisions about which toppings I'll choose for my salad bowl, or whether I'll eat at your restaurants at all.

Thank you for your honesty, for acknowledging the areas where you can do better, and for actively taking steps to improve your business practices, the fast food industry, and our food system.

Sincerely,

A loyal customer

 

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New Regional Cookbook Supports Vermont Food Bank

 

This month, a fresh-from-the-farm cookbook has been released by Tracey Medeiros, who moved to Vermont nine years ago for her husband's airline job and fell in love with the food culture in the process. Small, independent farms are the lifeblood of Vermont's agriculture, and the farm-to-table movement has been a staple in local life for generations. As a state, Vermont exemplifies a standard of small-scale, community-minded, unadulterated agriculture that has become a national model.

She said in a recent interview that her hope with this The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook is "to keep these farmers employed and help them succeed. I also want to excite the younger generations, to plant that seed in our youth that says, ‘Maybe I will try to be a farmer one day.’"

In an effort to continue supporting local organizations, 10 percent of the proceeds will be donated to the Vermont Food Bank to help sustain the important work they do. This is a wonderful opportunity to get your hands on a new cookbook and do some food philanthropy in the process.

Inside, you'll find classics like Vermont Cheddar Soup alongside fresh ideas like Ramp Dumplings or Raisin Hell Pie. No matter where you are in the country, you'll enjoy incorporating a piece of Vermont into your weekly menus.

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