Fight Hunger and Spark Change 27

This post was sponsored by Nextdoor and Walmart. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Fight Hunger and Spark Change

Do you know how many people in your neighborhood are food insecure? You might be surprised at the numbers. According to the USDA, 1 in 8 people (equivalent to 41 million people) in the US struggles with hunger. Today’s post is a tough topic, but a critical one for us to discuss. Food banks are not just soup kitchens, they are so much more. Please spend a few minutes learning how you can help make a difference in your local community.

Charlotte North Carolina Fight Hunger Spark Change event

The kickoff partnership dinner in Charlotte.

Partnership dinners sponsored by Nextdoor, Walmart, and Real Simple have been taking place over the past few weeks. The kickoff event took place in Charlotte, North Carolina on March 22, 2018. The Druid Hills community, located right outside Charlotte, has seen a lot of change and gentrification over the past few years. Nicole Storey, the Charlotte neighborhood and community partnerships manager, explained to me that this event was a great place to begin the conversation about fighting hunger. Many community members joined together to find solutions to battle food insecurity issues in their neighborhoods. Nicole uses Nextdoor to regularly communicate with the Charlotte neighborhoods and sees it as a conduit for neighborhood events and resources. Many homes in Druid Hills have seen a lot of changes and displacements over the past few years. Homes are being flipped, and longtime residents are being pushed out. The conversations that took place at this inaugural event were impactful and important. Subsequent dinners occurred in Phoenix and Pittsburgh following the success in Charlotte.

Neighbor's Table in Druid Hills Charlotte, NC

The beautiful Neighbor’s Table in Druid Hills, Charlotte NC and decorated by Real Simple.

The table pictured above is a Neighbor’s Table that was brought to the Druid Hills community. It will be a symbol of unity for years to come and many meals will be shared on this table. Each of these incredible tables is handmade by Lee and Sarah Harmeyer. The community of Charlotte came together, old and young, to share a meal, and to have important conversations at this beautiful table. The people who joined this first partnership dinner,  typically would not have had a chance to meet or share a meal with one another. Elected officials, community volunteers, food bank representatives, and other influential members of the community shared ideas and suggestions on how they could help with the food insecurities happening all around them.

Neighbors Table in Charlotte NC fight hunger spark change

Community Leaders gather in Charlotte, NC to fight hunger and spark change

Walmart was a perfect partner in the effort to combat hunger. They are the nation’s largest grocer and their size allows them to also be the largest contributor of food and finance to the local food banks. Being the largest grocer, with stores all over the United States, allows Walmart to be in a prime position to help others. Walmart stores, distribution centers, and Sam’s Clubs are centrally located in every state. Donations are made locally, right in the vicinity of each Walmart location. In October 2014, Walmart began a commitment to establish a more sustainable food system with a spotlight on improving the affordability of food by lowering the “true cost” of food for both the consumers and the environment. Walmart has also improved access to food, as well as making healthier eating possible, all while improving the safety and transparency of the food chain. Walmart has projected that by 2020 they will provide more than 4 billion meals to those who are hungry. What an amazing accomplishment this will be! April is the Walmart Fight Hunger, Spark Change campaign month and this is the 5th year that they have been spearheading this initiative. Walmart is dedicated to supporting more than 200 Feeding America food banks across the country.

Community gathering to spark change in Charlotte, NC

Hunger is a dynamic, middle-class problem. Nextdoor, Walmart and Real Simple partnered on these gatherings to get local people involved with the hunger problem in our country. The community members on the front lines, the policemen, the policymakers, and the neighbors all need to work together to find innovative solutions to solve these issues. One of the biggest challenges to solving hunger is the disbelief that it does not exist. Awareness needs to grow and we need to realize how many people are affected. Resources are available, and there is enough food, we simply need to leverage the strength of each partner to feed all the people who need help.

Food insecurity is a dividing factor in communities. Having enough food is a problem for many families, and sharing a meal with others is a great way to bring people together. With changes in communities, uncertainty arises. The Neighbor’s Table is a wonderful platform to bring communities together, and not only share a meal but to facilitate change.

Fight Hunger and Spark Change in Virginia Beach

Community leaders join around the Neighbor’s Table in Virginia Beach to spark change.

Sarah Harmeyer and her Dad, Lee, created the Neighbor’s Tables. Each table is handcrafted by Lee and finished by Sarah. Sarah moved to Dallas, TX in 2010 without knowing anyone. Her Dad made the first outdoor gathering table and Sarah invited everyone in her community by invitation on the Nextdoor website. Sarah was shocked when 91 people showed up to enjoy dinner with her. In one year, more than 500 people joined Sarah at her backyard table. Sarah quickly realized that her table could spark conversations about important topics, and help people get to know each other across the US. The Neighbor’s Tables are a great way to get people involved in their local community. Connections are made while sharing a meal and the table is a perfect place to connect. Sarah drives all over the US and hand delivers each table. Sarah also shares the first meal and conversation at each table. Sarah is a magnificent people gatherer and she hopes to have at least one table in every US state by 2020. The connections that are made at the Neighbor’s Tables are long-lasting.

A Neighbor’s table brings community members together to share a meal

Last week I was not able to attend the Virginia Beach partnership diner that was facilitated by Ruth Jones Nichols, the CEO of the Norfolk, VA food bank. While talking with Ms. Nichols on the phone, I learned that more than 200,000 people are served annually at her food bank. The food that is collected at the Norfolk food bank comes from many sources including:

  • individual donations
  • corporate donations
  • food drive collections
  • USDA programs

The food bank provides food for those that need it by supplying food to the Food Pantry, Soup Kitchens, Emergency Shelters, Backpack Programs, the Summer Feeding Program and the Kid’s Cafes.

Without the help of retail partners, such as Walmart, the food bank could not keep up with the demand. Walmart is the single biggest donor. Not only does Walmart make the biggest donations to the Foodbanks, they also help raise awareness for food insecurity in our area, through programs like the Fight Hunger Spark Change campaign.

We need to help people have better access to food, especially children. What can you do today to help combat the hunger issue in America?

How can you get involved?

  1. Sign up for your local Nextdoor community and get involved locally.
  2. Make a donation at your local Walmart that will contribute funds directly to your local Feeding America food bank. When you checkout at the register you will be asked to donate to the Fight Hunger, Spark Change campaign. Add a few dollars each time you check out and be a part of making a direct contribution to your local food bank.
  3. Buy any of the 14 brands, which are marked in your store, with the Fighter Hunger Spark Change signage. Each of these purchases will be a direct and immediate contribution to your local food bank. Visit the Walmart website here, to see which products are included in the direct contribution campaign. Each item you purchase buys 1 meal! As of today, 193,481,703 meals have been secured so far. Hurry, this offer is only good through April 30th! See the entire list of products you can purchase here, and featuring these brands: General Mills, The Coca-Cola Company, Kellogg, Kraft Heinz, PepsiCo/Frito-Lay/Quaker, Bush Brothers, Clorox Sales Company, Conagra, Motts, Unilever, Maruchan, Pinnacle Foods, Post, and JM Smucker.
  4. Make a purchase with your Walmart credit card. Synchrony bank will donate one meal for each credit card purchase. Up to $750,000 will be donated just from credit card purchases.
  5. Make a direct donation to Feeding America here. Each donation will go to your local food bank and feed families in need.
  6. Start a food drive at your local school, church, or community event.
  7. Donate food at your grocery store when they have a food drive.
  8. Share this post and help others learn how to get involved.

Fight Hunger and Spark Change

Since food is my passion, I want to share with you a recipe for Table Conversations. If you can, buy a Neighbor’s table for your backyard or local neighborhood. Get to know the wonderful people around you. You have incredible resources in your community, use them to help create solutions to the hunger problem.

My recipe for great conversations:

Committed People, a comfortable place to sit, and the courage to talk about important solutions.

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