I'm a Believer

Who among us can honestly say that they don't care about ending hunger in the world? But, who among us can honestly say that we spend much time thinking about that issue?

Throughout the years I have spent in the nonprofit world, and it is now approaching a quarter of a century, I have been witness to some of the most incredible and courageous people one could ever hope to meet. I've met people who have given of themselves to serve others, to shelter, to lift, to care for, and to feed others. Most of them work in the shadows. They don't have television programs written about them; they don't have songs sung about them; they don't have holidays named after them. But they are indeed what make this country more humane, more just, more courageous, and more livable.

They have given me more than I could have ever expected. Oh, they didn't serve me, shelter me or feed me, but they would have had I needed it. No, they gave me something that is intangible but that informs whatever it is I do. They have taught me that to truly end hunger we need each other. We cannot possibly solve this seemingly intractable problem by ourselves. The myriad organizations that exist in our country (and throughout the world, for that matter) whose sole purpose is to serve a community (and that "community" needn't be defined by geographic boundaries or even demographics) in need are mostly doing a great job. Recently, many nonprofits have come under attack as doing less than a credible job when it comes to using dollars raised for the purpose that they were intended, but that's another story. Let's just say that the vast, vast majority of nonprofits are doing the job they were set up to do and are doing it exceedingly well. My point is that what we need to do a better job at is to work together -- nonprofits to nonprofits -- within communities. We no longer have the luxury of playing chess alone. We need each other. We need the partner sitting across the table from us and extending a hand in solidarity to get the job done faster, better and more efficiently and comprehensively. Hunger, disease, abuse, poverty and all the other ills that beset us cannot wait. I believe that we are much stronger when we work together.

I also believe our food system is broken. But, and this is the good news, I am convinced it can be fixed. I believe that we need to work together to do that.

I believe that we must encourage the creation and expansion of community gardens and farmers markets, and that means getting dirty -- getting our hands out of our pockets and into the soil all around us in order to cultivate and maintain sustainable sources for nutrition. There are many organizations and wonderful people within those organizations with whom I have been meeting who are ready to share their expertise and knowledge with others to promote the establishment of such enterprises.

I believe that we need to foster the notion of community kitchens in neighborhoods and in small towns to nourish the bellies of those who are going without. I believe that these community kitchens can be a sparkplug not just for generating a nutritional gathering place but also as a job creation incubator as well. It's happening in places like Los Angeles, California, and Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Virginia and it needs to happen in rural hamlets and suburban outposts, too.

I believe that communities need to get involved to encourage volunteers to work at the food banks, the food pantry, the meals on wheels program and to develop Food Policy Councils to work to ensure that their communities are hunger-free communities. Communities that are energized and engaged in enabling all who live there to have access to nutritious food are communities that will prosper alongside those who live there.

I believe that the time is right for those of us in the nonprofit world to come together, join hands and work as the true engine of our communities: the engine that steers the rest of the train in the right direction.

I believe that we can and we will end senior hunger in America. I believe that we can and we will end hunger in America. I believe that Louisa May Alcott summed it up better than I could. She said: "We all have our own life to pursue, our own kind of dreams to be weaving, and we all have the power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep believing."

Dream along with me. Believe as I do that we can make hunger and malnutrition a thing of the past. Join us in this crusade. It starts today.