Check out this article about a very cool idea (no pun intended) that is taking hold in Paris, France, one of the foodiest places on the planet. Solidarity Fridges or Frigo Solidaire. The concept is simple – get local restaurants and other food businesses to donate unused good food to these fridges that are open to anyone wanting or needing food. Place the fridges in locations around your city. Assign someone to keep them clean and to make sure that only safe usable food gets placed in them for free distribution. Voila!
Another fun fact I learned from reading this article – France is on the warpath against food waste due to the fact that they see 233 lbs. per person per year wasted. In the US, we see 612 lbs. per person per year wasted. When will we declare war on food waste?
Did you know that most legal immigrants are barred from using benefits like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) for their first five years in the United States? This was sad news to me, and likely affects some number of families within our PHA community.
It all started in 2014 when the MA Department of Ed introduced a new metric called “economic disadvantage” replacing what was previously called “low-income” in our data tracking. This new metric automatically applied to students enrolled to receive SNAP benefits. To quote from the article, “We adopted a definition of poverty that effectively required, with one small exception, that you be a legal resident of the country for at least five years”.
The article goes on to say that it is reasonable to assume that [the new metric] creates some systemic bias. Yep, that’s a safe assumption.
Yesterday, Team PHA Thrive successfully completed the 20-mile Walk for Hunger raising $3471 in total, and $2082 for PHA Thrive.
Marcus, Julia T. and myself had over 6 hours to walk, talk, share stories, laugh, and enjoy each others’ company while getting lots of exercise and raising money for a great cause. Besides the money we raised, the best part was noticing the reaction of nearby walkers as they overheard some of our whacky topics of conversation.
A day well spent, with people I adore, supporting a cause I care deeply about.
Thanks to the amazing support of the PHA community and our friends, we enjoyed our first lively and well-attended Third Thursday supper on November 15th. Angela Allen, Head of School and Jeffrey Kushner from the Board of Trustees joined us. And thanks to Jeffrey, the rest of us got to taste his delicious lasagna.
During conversation it was asked whether or how these suppers address the hunger problem. A better question might be, “What purpose do Third Thursdays serve?”. Perhaps they help families stretch their food budgets toward the end of the month. Statistics show that for most recipients, SNAP benefits run out around the 21st of each month. Perhaps Third Thursdays offer families a night off from racing home at the end of a busy day to prepare a family meal. Instead families get to relax among friends over a warm meal prepared by someone else. Perhaps Third Thursdays remind us that we are all enriched by working together and supporting one another. And what better way to come together than around food? And perhaps Third Thursdays are really all about Jess’ amazing carrot cake. (yum!)
It is clear that we cannot solve food insecurity with a single supper each month. But in some respects we are doing so much more.
I love it when I read about others’ work around food insecurity. After all, it is something we should all be concerned about in this “land of plenty”. Check out this story about how a kindred soul is working to meet the needs of the hungry in her community.
Reminder to self: Reach out to our friends at Food for Free, who focus on recovering what they can of the 40% edible food waste they see all around us here in the Boston area. Maybe they can help us put more of that “waste” to good use.
Stay warm. Stay healthy. Stay committed to things that matter.
To all of you who may read this, please share it with friends and family and help us spread the word. PHA Thrive is about one thing – strengthening our learning community by ensuring that all of our children have food, especially on weekends and school breaks. If you can get behind this worthwhile cause, please consider making a contribution of any size to PHA Thrive today, Giving Tuesday.
Our numbers continue to grow. We are now serving 115 children in grades K-6, and our hope is to expand to grades 7-12 in the coming year. Donations in any amount help and all the money raised goes directly to the food and supplies distributed to those in need. $25 provides a child with weekend food backpacks for a month. $250 covers that child for the academic year.
To donate, please go here. Or if you happen to go to the main PHA website, choose the Families tab, then Thrive, then Donate.
PHA Thrive experienced its fair share of challenges this past week. The challenges took many forms – backpack distribution issues, out of whack purchasing cards, outbreaks of seasonal illness, food preparation and transport messes, and the often overlooked challenges of doing all of what Thrive does on the backs of people who have other full-time jobs and lives competing for their attention. Needless to say, there were days recently when even those of us most committed to Thrive felt a bit discouraged.
But then came yesterday. And with yesterday came the news that we have been selected as recipients of another MIT Community Service Fund grant (YAY!!). And then last night we hosted our best attended, most successful Third Thursday community supper ever. And all of our efforts seemed to make sense, and the challenges seemed more manageable.
Today I am writing to express gratitude. Yesterday brought news of a very generous donation to Thrive from someone who already gives of his time, energy, ideas and money to support the work that we do. Along with his donation, he included a note, “This is in appreciation for the dedication and hard work put in by everyone involved..” As one of the “involved”, with this donation he ensures that roughly 50 more weekend backpacks get sent home.
Yesterday also brought an opportunity for me to prepare a meal to share with another family. As two busy working moms of daughters who love one another, we support each other in countless ways. We share our hopes and fears, for ourselves and our families; we share our challenges and successes; we share our daughters and the joy they bring to our lives. We often share all of these things over a meal. And today I am reminded of how grateful I am to be able to do this.
Food nourishes more than just our bodies. Sharing food nourishes our connectedness and our sense of community.
Welcome to the new school year and another year of THRIVE-ing at PHA. We have begun receiving enrollment forms from families wishing to receive weekend food backpacks. 3 thoughts on that topic:
If you participated last year, and want to continue getting backpacks this year please fill out a new enrollment form. Otherwise we will not know you wish to continue. (The enrollment form(s) in both English and Amharic can be found under Thrive! For Families. )
If you know of any family who could benefit from our backpack program, please encourage them to submit a form. Make sure they understand there are no requirements other than a completed form, and no obligations. They can join or drop out of the program at any time simply by notifying us.
Our first distribution of backpacks will happen on Friday October 13!! Families can still join after this date, and at any time throughout the year.
We will also resume our very popular and delicious Third Thursday community suppers. The schedule for these is as follows:
As luck would have it, this year they all fall on the 3rd Thursday of the month, making it easier to remember. If any of you out there would care to contribute your time setting up/cleaning up/serving let us know. And if any of you are in a position to help cook for these events, that would also be a very welcome contribution.
I’ll close this post by repeating a favorite phrase of my father’s, “And we’re off, like a herd of turtles down a cobblestone street.”
$5,596. That’s what we successfully raised in our annual PHA Thrive Fundraiser at The Independent in Union Square on Saturday May 20, 2017. We could not have asked for a more beautiful day. And we are tremendously grateful to all those who joined us at the event, or who sent in their donations even though they could not join us. Here are a few photos that captured the day.