How can we create a groundswell of support to end childhood hunger in America? On this episode of Add Passion & Stir, No Kid Hungry champion Dorothy McAuliffe shares her insights on what became her signature issue as the First Lady of Virginia. She talks with chef Jason Alley about building awareness and tackling the issue of childhood hunger in Virginia and beyond. “As a first spouse, I learned pretty early that you do have an opportunity with this bully pulpit to raise awareness and to elevate the work,” she says. Chef Alley works hard to bring attention to child hunger in Richmond, VA – in part because he grew up experiencing food insecurity himself. “Food insecurity leaves a lasting impression,” he shares. “It’s inexcusable that we have hungry people in a country that’s this wealthy and produces this much food. That we have 13M hungry children… is embarrassing. It’s a travesty. And it’s entirely fixable.” McAuliffe agrees. “Even one child on one day experiencing hunger and food insecurity in our commonwealth or our country is one too many,” she believes.
McAuliffe’s commitment to the No Kid Hungry campaign has had tremendous impact on Virginia’s kids. When host Billy Shore asks her what worked, McAuliffe says that her experience proves that although child hunger is not a partisan issue, advocates still need to do their homework and connect hunger with educational and economic outcomes to help people see that it’s an investment in our country not a “government handout.” She cites improving test scores, creating a more prepared future work force, and boosting local economies as ways we can make the case. Chef Alley takes a more personal approach in using his own bully pulpit to raise awareness. Each year, he hosts a dinner for chefs from all over the country to raise money for the Feed More Food Bank in Richmond. “When I talk about my story… there’s a level of sometimes confusion, sometimes shock on people’s faces when they realize that I’m the face of hunger,” he notes. “It’s not exclusively the people in low-income housing projects, or [specific areas], it’s everywhere. The face of hunger is looking in the mirror sometimes,” he shares. He thinks bringing attention to the face of hunger is the most powerful thing he can do. “We can’t give $100K to the food bank twice a year, but what we can do is use our platform to do good work and bring attention to these issues.”
Learn from this inspiring and practical conversation about how to create real change in your community.
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.
- Root Cause Coalition: The Root Cause Coalition is a national, member-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the root causes of health disparities by focusing on hunger and other social determinants leading to nationwide epidemic of preventable chronic health conditions.
- Dorothy McAuliffe is Former First Lady of Virginia and currently a fellow at Georgetown’s Institute of Politics and Policy at the McCourt School of Public Service. She has been an impactful advocate for women’s health, public safety, social justice, and equal opportunity for all Virginians, particularly Virginia’s children. As First Lady, she served as Chair of the Commonwealth Council on Bridging the Nutritional Divide and engaged stakeholders across the Virginia food system to seek solutions that eliminate childhood hunger, develop local agriculture, and empower community efforts linking locally grown food, education, health, and nutrition. In her role chairing the No Kid Hungry Virginia campaign, she has led efforts to improve school meal access and increased the number of school breakfasts served each year by more than 10 million. She is a graduate of The Catholic University of America, with a B.A. in Political Science, and completed her J.D. at Georgetown University Law Center, where she was a member of the Journal of Law and Policy in International Business.
- Georgetown University Institute of Politics and Public Service was founded as part of the new McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown in 2013 and launched in the fall of 2015. It is dedicated to reconnecting young people with the notion that politics is a noble vehicle for public service. The Institute is an incubator of political thought where students are connected with public servants and political practitioners to come up with the next big ideas on how to make our political system work better.
- Jason Alley is chef and co-owner of Comfort, Pasture, and Flora restaurants in Richmond, VA. He grew up in Appalachia, VA, where the lifestyle was simple and the food reflected this simplicity with uncomplicated and comforting home-cooked southern food. As a child his presence in the kitchen was one stemming from necessity, as the working Alley family required as many helping hands as possible. And though it may have stemmed from necessity, Alley’s cooking quickly turned into a calling. Finding work in the culinary field came easily to Alley, as he began working his way up the ladder in a Harrisburg Country Club until he landed the chef position. The country club was traded in for work as a sous chef in the best restaurant in Champaign, Illinois, while his then-fiancée (and now wife) completed graduate school at the University of Illinois. After life in Champaign, Alley settled in Atlanta where he worked at the highly-celebrated and admired restaurants 1848 House, Blue Ridge Grill, and ENO. The ultimate career move brought him to Richmond, VA where he worked in the Europa Café and Tapas Bar (where he met his soon-to-be restaurant partner Chris Chandler), and eventually opened his renowned restaurant, Comfort, and then Pasture and Flora.
- Comfort is an award-winning meat and three style southern restaurant focused on local farmers and scratch cooking, with a real affinity for American whiskey, beers, and wine.
- Pasture is a southern-style restaurant using local and seasonal ingredients that focuses on small and large plates to be shared around the table.
- Flora is a lively upscale Mexican restaurant inspired by the state Oaxaca and the Yucatan Peninsula.
- FeedMore is Central Virginia’s core hunger-relief organization dedicated to providing neighbors in need with healthy meals and hope for a better tomorrow. With a service area that stretches across 34 cities and counties, FeedMore helps the nearly 200,000 children, families and seniors in Central Virginia who struggle with hunger. Working to efficiently and effectively fight hunger, FeedMore’s multi-tiered approach, comprehensive programs and network of more than 300 partner agencies are dedicated to providing neighbors who face hunger with one of the most basic necessities: nourishment.
- Lisa Davis serves as Senior Vice President of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. In this capacity, she is responsible for developing and implementing results-driven strategies and local campaigns that leverage partnerships, programmatic expertise, advocacy and communications to increase participation in federal nutrition programs and build momentum toward ending childhood hunger. Prior to joining No Kid Hungry in 2016, Lisa directed government relations and advocacy at Feeding America. Under her leadership, the team achieved numerous regulatory and legislative victories, increased member food bank engagement in advocacy by more than 40 percent and doubled Feeding America’s online advocacy program.