What do you do when you witness profound need? Do you stand by and feel badly, or do you do something about it? Changemakers Jim Ansara, founder of Build Health International and hunger advocate and Boston chef Michael Scelfo (Alden & Harlow, Waypoint) are driven by the need to make a difference. On this episode of Add Passion and Stir, Ansara, Scelfo and podcast host Share Our Strength founder and CEO Billy Shore discuss the stubbornness and resilience it takes to do something about a big social problem. When he first witnessed the extreme poverty and deep injustice in Haiti even before the devastating earthquake of 2010, “At first I was totally overwhelmed,” he says. “And then I was determined to do something about it.” He worked for years after the earthquake to build the largest solar-powered hospital in the work to serve the profound need in Haiti. Scelfo similarly acted to address the need in communities close to his restaurants working with the No Kid Hungry campaign. “Our work is really powerful on the level that we can do it,” he says. He feels he is just getting started in his hunger advocacy work. “I know we have a long way to go, but I just have to keep going – that’s all I can do.”
Ansara, Scelfo and Shore compare the situation in Haiti with that here in America. Ansara points out that Haiti’s problems have deep roots that go back hundreds of years. “The US and other countries have not been kind to Haiti,” he reports. “Is it unfixable?,” asks Shore. “Should we be hopeful, or cynical, or both?” Ansara replies, “If you’re going to work in Haiti, you have to have a 20 to 50 year time horizon. There are no immediate, short-term turnarounds or gains.” However, the situation is very different here at home. “Childhood hunger [in America] is solvable… We have the resources to feed our children,” stresses Ansara. “It’s morally wrong that we as a society don’t focus on this.” Scelfo is determined to be a better advocate and make his voice heard.
Listen to be inspired how these leaders tenaciously work to solve these big social problems here and abroad.
Resources and Mentions:
- No Kid Hungry (nokidhungry.org): Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign is ending child hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day.
- Build Health International (http://www.buildhealthinternational.org/): A nonprofit whose mission is to build for select nonprofit clients: respected and effective organizations working in the most impoverished regions of the world. BHI remains one of a kind and in its first few years has taken on almost 40 major projects — many as builder, some as consultant — in Haiti, Liberia, Malawi, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone. Our current client-partners are Partners in Health, St. Boniface Haiti Foundation, Summits Education, and Haiti Projects.
- Alden & Harlow (http://aldenharlow.com/): Located at 40 Brattle Street, Alden & Harlow serves thoughtfully sourced, honest American food in a subterranean, modern and comfortable space. Inspired by the gathering of family and friends at his home kitchen table, Chef Michael Scelfo prepares bold and flavor-forward food that honors tradition of place in its quality.
- Waypoint (http://www.waypointharvard.com/): Chef Michael Scelfo of Alden & Harlow welcomes Waypoint, his second Cambridge restaurant. Located at the gateway of Harvard Square at 1030 Massachusetts Avenue, “waypoint” often means a plot point on a map. For Chef Scelfo, it signals a natural next step along his culinary journey. The menu at Waypoint reflects his forward-thinking approach to coastally-inspired fare, combining approachable ideas and ingredients with elements that are unexpected.