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Hunger in America exists for over 50 million people. That is 1 in 6 of the U.S. population, including more than 1 in 5 children. This group exists to raise awareness of the complexities of the issue, to consider solutions, and to advocate for change.
Many people think that hunger is unavoidable in any society, even a society that is blessed with great abundance. That is not true. The European community does not have widespread hunger. America, which leads the world in so many ways, can end childhood hunger within its borders.       ~ Pierce Brosnan

A simple act of kindness by a stranger when Denise Cerreta was eight years old led this woman to pay it forward in a huge way every single day.  Denise and her family were visiting a farmer's market when she asked her father to buy some of the plump delicious looking strawberries.  Her father had to refuse because he could not afford them.  As they returned to their car a stranger ran up holding a pint of strawberries saying he hoped the father didn't mind, but he'd bought them for the little girl.

In 2003 Denise owned and was operating "Smoochy's", a cafe in Salt Lake City when a woman came up to the counter to pay her bill.  Impulsively, Cerreta told the customer to pay whatever she could and despite the shocked look on the customer's face Denise knew that was what she was meant to be doing with her life.  

This act spurred a turnaround  for the restaurant, which eventually became One World Cafe - a place where people could pay a suggested price, leave more, leave less, or volunteer to earn a meal.

Now, at age 51 Denise is founder of One World Everybody Eats Foundation a non-profit which she founded in 2006 that focuses on opening up similar ventures across the United States.  

What better endorsement than this from Rush Limbaugh: (source)

These are liberals playing games with the reality known as life.
Denise and her foundation has helped open:

2008 - One World Spokane - Spokane, WA

2009 - Potager - Arlington, TX; A Better World Cafe - Highland Park, NJ

2010 - (former) Comfort Cafe - Colorado

2012 - F.A.R.M. Cafe - Boone, NC

In addition, Denise offered guidance to Panera Bread in establishing Panera Cares and Jon Bon Jovi in establishing Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation.  

To date, One World Everybody Eats Foundation has directly or indirectly helped launch 30 community cafes and is mentoring over 50 cafe groups in the planning stage worldwide.

Denise made the decision in 2012 to close her original cafe in Salt Lake City in order to focus entirely on helping others replicate her model in their community.  Not a bad pay-it-forward for a pint of strawberries!

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Joshua Williams, the youngest recipient (11 years old) of the White House Champion of Change Award in 2012. Founder of Joshua's Heart Foundation.
Joshua Williams, 11, at the 2012 White House Champions of Change Awards Ceremony.  Joshua was the youngest recipient of this Award and is the founder of Joshua's Heart Foundation.
At 5 years of age, Joshua Williams and his mother were on their way to church and Joshua was daydreaming of the things he could buy with the $20 his grandmother had recently given him. While at a red light, Joshua looked out the window and spotted a homeless man begging for food and insisted on giving that man his money.  His mother convinced him to buy food and give it to the man instead and they did exactly that.  From that moment on, Joshua has plunged headfirst towards doing whatever he can to stamp out hunger.

In 2007 Joshua and his mother established Joshua's Heart Foundation which to date, has distributed over 400,000 pounds of food to those in need. Additionally through their collaboration with Whole Foods Markets they teach the recipient families how to prepare healthier meals.  

Joshua's Heart's Mission Statement reads:

  • Work toward ending hunger as part of an overall community effort
  • Increase awareness about global hunger issues
  • Mobilize support for hunger relief programs and activities
  • Work on early childhood and youth education programs to break the cycle of poverty
  • Generate resources for Joshua's Heart Foundation operations and other activities that alleviate the needs of children

Joshua is the youngest recipient of the White House Champions of Change Award which he received last summer.

Joshua's Heart currently has 700 volunteers and a Junior Advisory Board over which Joshua presides.  His program has benefited 50 children in two Miami area schools, but Joshua hopes to expand this through more corporate donations (Walmart has already given $20,000).

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Here are six fun and inventive ways you and your community can give food to those who need it:

1.  Are you, or do you know local gardeners who are overwhelmed with tomatoes, squash or eggplant?  Instead of letting it go to waste go to Ample Harvest or Food Pool and connect with food pantries in your area that can use it.

2.  Host a movie night -- last summer the Church of the Good Shepherd in Fort Lee, NJ commissioned a series of outdoor movies nights which they called the "Canned Film Festival". The price of admission was - you're right! - a can a food.

3.  Sign up for Run 10 Feed 10, an 11 city race series organized by Women's Health and the Feed Foundation.  Run 10 kilometers and the foundation will donate 10 meals to needy people in your community.

4.  Check Go Halfsies for a participating restaurant that offer patrons certain menu items for which full price is paid, but half portions are served with a percentage of the difference going to local food banks and global nonprofit partners.  Or you can urge your favorite eatery to utilize Flash Food, a mobile app developed by Arizona State students that allows restaurants, hotels and caterers to indicate they  have leftover food available for donation.  

5.  Host a competition or event where you make a Canstruction - a giant sculputre - using cans of food which are later donated to hunger relief organizations.

6.  Support the virtual Double D Diner where you can order anything from a $1.89 cup of coffee to a $49.99 buffet, but you won't actually get to enjoy it.  Instead, 90% of the proceeds will go to fighting hunger.

I shared this information with my daughter and she is now in the process of presenting her son's Scout master with the information on Canstruction in hopes the troop can not only participate, but challenge other troops to compete.

Originally posted to Hunger in America on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 03:35 PM PST.

Also republished by J Town.

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