I think we all have a call on our lives to help those in need, and I firmly believe that to feed someone is to love them. I am honored to partner with The Kroger Company, one of the world’s largest grocers, in their Zero Hunger | Zero Waste initiative. It is one thing when individuals get together to invoke change, but it’s another when a large corporation stands against poverty and hunger by saying no to food waste in their stores. This last year, Kroger alone donated 325 million meals to people in need. That’s enough food to feed everyone in the country of Iceland for an entire year!
A few weeks ago, Kroger asked if I’d head to Cincinnati, Ohio and be a part of this change. It is the one-year anniversary of the Zero Hunger | Zero Waste program, and Kroger has partnered with Oprah Winfrey in donating even more food this coming year. Oprah is the founder of O, That’s Good!, a brand new pizza line (super delicious and available at your local Kroger grocer for $6.99), and a portion of the proceeds is split equally between the organizations Feeding America and Rise Against Hunger. She was on hand in Cincinnati to share her passion for this initiative and her commitment to the cause of ending childhood hunger.
Cincinnati suffers as one of the leading cities in the nation in childhood poverty. We gathered at the Freestore Food Bank and packed 2000 power packs for hungry kids to take home from school for the weekends when they don’t have sufficient access to food. Think about that – children don’t have sufficient access to food. This is an epidemic in our country that requires immediate attention, and Kroger has answered the call.
I can’t help but get emotional when I think of the realities children are facing. I can’t help but get excited at the opportunity we have to end this. No matter what, we are committed to feeding those in need. I believe there is no greater gift than to show love in this way.
One of the greatest moments in my life was standing on that assembly line, stuffing nourishing food into a take-home pack, because I know that food changes lives. A meal brings hope. To be able to partner with Kroger and Oprah to make a difference has been a dream come true.
I grew up as a “Free & Reduced Lunch” kid. I benefited from programs like these. My parents worked very hard, they were loving and dedicated, and they showed us kids (all four of us) how to be resourceful and spend our money wisely and how to make food and meals stretch. We utilized the meat and milk markdowns on Mondays at our local grocery store. We were no stranger to the day-old bread bin. We never turned our nose up to bruised or soft fruit. We’d visit church parking lots for commodities like peanut butter, rice, and cheese. If you know the brick of government cheese, I say you’ve got one leg up on life.
I now spend my life and career writing recipes and books about meals made from whole food. We aim to nourish the soul first. Rustic Joyful Food is about life. Life is good, no matter what. It’s not without its tears, but there is beauty in the rough stuff, in the not so pretty stuff.
Seven years ago when our restaurant closed due to my illness in pregnancy, I was able to draw on everything I learned to make food stretch in the best way possible: while we lost all our earthly possessions – our business, our home, and our car. We had a brand new baby, and we never for one moment lost hope. There is hope in this life, and we are meant to share our struggles so that others might not give up. I will forever shout from the rooftops that we are made for hard things, made to endure adversity in order to help people. In order to bring hope. It’s always darkest before the dawn, but guess what? Morning always comes.
If you’d like to contribute to Zero Hunger | Zero Waste, here are a few things you can do:
Donate a bag of groceries to a local food bank or shelter during September
Post a photo of your donation with #ZeroHungerZeroWaste
Tag a friend and challenge them to make a food donation in September
Tag your local food bank or shelter to help raise awareness about where and how to donate
If you’d like to learn more about the Zero Hunger | Zero Waste initiative, visit TheKrogerCo.com.