The response to the crisis in Haiti has been an outpouring of warmth and support from people all around our world as our hearts go out to the people there. Aid organizations have responded to the call to provide emergency aid to the devastated country, including medical, food and water. There is still a lot to do, and I wanted to highlight an organization helping to make a difference.
Margie Fleming Glennon, Communications Director of Share Our Strength, kindly gave me some insights into the aid effort as well as about her organization. Share Our Strength has given $145,000 to five organizations with the capacity and expertise to respond to such a huge crisis. The funding ranges from $67,500 for Partners in Health, to $25,000 for each of CHF International and the United Nations Foundation, $22,500 for CARE, and $5,000 for the International Organization for Migration.
Haiti’s immediate needs must be addressed first, as aid is struggling to get in and issues around starvation and security loom. VoicesForOurPlanet.com joins our readers in wishing the aid organizations and the people in Haiti all the very best and pray for them daily.
Once the current crisis settles down, there will be a need for long-term assistance, and that’s where Share Our Strength will continue to help. The organization specializes in feeding the hungry. Hunger has been a long-standing issue in Haiti, one which is expected to be even more urgent going forward.
Share Our Strength is in the planning stages with chefs across the United States, many of whom they have long-established relationships with. And history. Following Hurricane Katrina, the organization managed the Restaurants for Relief program, which helped raise money to rebuild New Orleans. Now they will step forward to do the same for Haiti.
So what does Share Our Strength do between major crises, and where does their money come from? The organization’s mission is to end hunger in the United States. Having been founded 25 years ago to help provide aid to the Ethiopian famine, Share Our Strength today continues to provide some international support, although it’s a small part of their budget. They have been addressing the ongoing problem of hunger in Haiti for around 20 years, which takes the largest portion of their international aid budget. Now, obviously, they are giving Haiti a much greater focus.
The organization is likely familiar to many of you, through some of their well-known events. The flagship event is Taste of the Nation(R), which started in 1988 and today is America’s largest culinary event. Presented by American Express, popular restaurants in 55 US cities offer food and beverage tastings, involving over 10,000 chefs. The events are entirely managed by volunteers, and raise millions of dollars each year that Share Our Strength uses to support over 1,000 hunger organizations as well as its own food programs.
Margie also mentioned several other major programs that her organization manages, including the Great American Bake Sale and the Great American Dine Out events. Their Operation Frontline program helps teach low-income families to shop and cook on a budget. They are also starting a new program focused on people with diabetes in 20 communities across the US.
As well, in the summer of 2009, Share Our Strength surveyed American teachers about child hunger in the classroom. Responses came from 700 teachers in 47 states and a wide range of schools. Sixty-two percent of teachers reported seeing children who come to school hungry each week because they are not getting enough to eat at home. Sixty-three percent of teachers mentioned that they use their own money to help feed children in their school. They likely understand the negative cycle to which hunger can lead. If you’ve ever been hungry, you may remember how distracting it can be. Distracted children, unfortunately, are often labeled as misbehaving, a label which can stick and lead to medical and societal problems when the children are a little older.
From feeding hungry children in the United States to the massive rebuilding that needs to be done in Haiti, Share Our Strength is committed to working with other organizations to make a positive impact. For more information about Share Our Strength and to find out how you can help, visit their website.