CINCINNATI - More than 12,000 chefs and restaurateurs across the nation have joined Share our Strength in its No Kid Hungry campaign to eradicate childhood hunger in the United States. They put on top-notch culinary events around the nation, and teach families how to stretch their food dollar and cook delicious nutritious meals.
On Oct. 27, six acclaimed chefs from Greater Cincinnati are joining forces to prepare a multi-course meal at the Metropole in downtown Cincinnati.
- Michael Paley (Metropole)
- Julie Francis (Nectar)
- Jose Salazar (Salazar, opening soon)
- Jean-Robert de Cavel (Jean-Robert's Table)
- Dan Wright (Senate and Abigail Street)
- Sarah Ray (Metropole)
The menu includes delectable food like canapés, ocean trout with truffle beurre rouge, grilled venison with cherries and caramelized shallots, and bittersweet chocolate tart.
The full menu (story continues below)
It's a far cry from the reality of hunger facing many families. But organizers believe the way to donors' hearts is through their stomachs.
The No Kid Hungry dinner is a first for Cincinnati, thanks to host chef Paley, who is no stranger to the No Kid Hungry campaign.
"I have been wanting to host this dinner since three years ago when I was in Louisville," Paley said. It did not materialize there, but Paley's persistence is finally paying off here.
Joe Allegro, the chef relations manager at Share Our Strength, said the organization puts on about 15 No Kid Hungry dinner events across the nation every year. Paley hopes the dinner this Sunday raises enough money to bring this national culinary event back next year.
Paley's desire to work with the No Kid Hungry campaign began when he listened to his wife talk about school children who did not have enough to eat.
"My wife is an elementary school teacher who teaches mostly in low-income areas," he said. "Her observation of what the kids had to eat, or not, affected me."
Paley also worries about the decay of the urban core in many cities, and the resulting food deserts.
"Farms may just be 15 miles away, but the food somehow gets distributed out of state, often leaving the urban centers deprived of fresh food," he said.
Hunger's harsh realities
The numbers are heartbreaking: Sixteen million children--approximately one in five--struggle with hunger in America. According to Freestore Foodbank, one in six children in Greater Cincinnati face food insecurity, which the USDA defines as ranging from reduced quality of diet with no hunger, to disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.
Salazar, one of the participating chefs this Sunday, calls the number of hungry children in the United States "staggering.”
"It's a problem we should work to fix," he said.
Jean-Robert de Cavel, who will be serving the third course this Sunday, expressed sadness about the plight of hungry children in this country.
"Kids don't always understand why there is not enough food to eat," he said. Both Salazar and Jean-Robert hope this Sunday's dinner will bring greater awareness to the problem of childhood hunger.
According to Share Our Strength, "a child who doesn't have enough to eat isn't going to do well in school, is likely to get sick more often, and is less likely to graduate from high school and go on to college."
Anjali Reddy, the Share Our Strength communications manager, said: "since 2005, these dinners have raised more than $7 million to support the work of the No Kid Hungry campaign as it connects kids to effective nutrition programs like school breakfast and summer meals, and teaches low-income families how to shop for and cook healthy, affordable meals."
Salazar has seen first-hand the impact of summer meal programs. Growing up in Queens, NY, which he described as a "blue collar and humble neighborhood," he knew kids who would go to school throughout the summer just to get lunch.
Julie Francis, another of the participating chefs, is mindful of another type of hunger: the lack of proper nutrition.
"I'm aware of nutrition issues inherent to the lack of access to fresh food," she said. Francis hopes money raised from the dinner this Sunday will help provide children with the right kind of food.
Next page: Where the money goes, event information
The proceeds from the No Kid Hungry dinner in Cincinnati will support the campaign's work in Ohio and throughout the United States.
The No Kid Hungry network includes a number of partners:
- The Ohio Association of Foodbanks
- United Way of Greater Toledo
- The Children's Hunger Alliance
- Local Matters
Charlie Kozlesky, the vice president of nutrition programs at Children's Hunger Alliance said its partnership with Share Our Strength has given the organization's work and mission a big boost.
Children's Hunger Alliance helped Cincinnati Public Schools get a $300,000 grant that has been used to expand breakfast programs.
"In the last five years, the number of children participating in breakfast programs in Cincinnati Public Schools has gone from 8,000 to 15,000 children," Kozlesky said.
Dan Wright, who will be serving the main course this Sunday, hopes the dinner will raise awareness and money for the cause.
"When you compare the wide availability and affordability of ninety-nine cent value meals, the cost of healthy food is high in this country," he said, referring to the higher cost and lack of availability of fresh produce in some areas. Going to school gets complicated when kids don't eat. You don't want to be the kid showing up without a lunchbox."
If you go:
- The No Kid Hungry Cincinnati Dinner will be held this Sunday, Oct. 27 Metropole restaurant.
- There will be a cocktail reception, multi-course seated dinner prepared by the area's top chefs, and a silent auction.
- Tickets start at $150 each.
- You can purchase tickets and find more information online or call 917-834-5335.