National Plan Addressing Child Hunger
How Children’s Meal Mission Began. One man does not make a movement. Anchorage resident George Bell learned this the hard way when he began feeding children inside the Mountain View neighborhood in November 2009. Bell did not have a state or federal grant backing him nor the support of a church or non-profit. All he had was his skill set as a cook and the love of a father in his heart. When he saw a hungry child, fatherhood demanded that he reach into his pocket and chose to feed that child. In Mountain View, 1,154 hungry children exist.
Bell’s activism led to a connection to the Mountain View Boys and Girls Club. A commercial-grade kitchen was made open to him. That led to a meeting with community activist Kokayi Nosakhere, who connected Bell to then legislative aide Don Burrell Jr. It took a few months to establish a non-profit and even more time to see grant applications turn into dollars. But, it is working. Currently, Children’s Meal Mission, which started out of the heart of ONE man, can proudly boast of 50,000 meals served in 3 years.
Currently, a small team of staff operate Children’s Meal Mission. With 13,910 children identified by the Anchorage School District belonging to minimum-wage households where hunger is a living reality, we do not feel like we are doing enough. In fact, we don’t feel like we are doing enough in Mountain View. Passion drives us to continue seeking the means to provide more meals and expand the program.
The Board, responsible for financial stewardship of Children’s Meal Mission, is not into taking risks. While they recognize that passion is necessary to inspire and motive staff, passion does not provide the $15,000 per month that Children’s Meal Mission spends feeding children in two sites. To move forward $100,000 needs to be raised up front.
A Vision Beyond Alaska. If those numbers cause many to pause, By2015:AMERICA does not even enjoy non-profit status. Following the advice of a think tank from 2009 of Leadership Anchorage alumni, it has resisted becoming a non-profit so as not to take money from Children’s Meal Mission or any other anti-hunger organization it partners with. However, the Lead Coordinator has accomplished all he can accomplish inside of Alaska. George Bell and Don Burrell Jr. are fully capable of organizing sites in Alaska state-wide. All that is needed is the money.
In contrast, the effort in the Lower 48 is in desperate need of guidance. The anti-hunger movement lacks a coherent message and central organization. Even a major powerhouse like Share Our Strength failed to assemble an alliance of anti-hunger organizations to address child hunger because those gathered fail to see an permanent end to the issue. At an Anchorage event, Bill Shore stated that he struggled with a Los Angeles school district to implement Universal Breakfast and Lunch (first plank of the By2015:AMERICA movement’s solution to child hunger and number one suggestion from the United Nations) because the Teacher and Janitorial Unions did not want to perform the extra tasks without additional pay. This resulted in the children implementing the solution.
Still, with 20.6 million children hungry, the Lead Coordinator feels compelled to attempt what others have failed to do, even if the financial resources to achieve such are not readily at hand; even if the talent of others to achieve such are not readily at hand; even if only three years remain to reach the goal. The question is HOW to implement the vision.
The Lead Coordinator proposes the following:
The National Proposal. Engage in an “Experiment with Truth.” All the spiritual leaders of humanity agree that universal principles, which do not respect persons or the availability of resources, are at the heart of the Universe. Reliance on these principles can produce what many call “miracles.” What appears impossible becomes possible. Exactly how this occurs is still being investigated. Yet, the FACT that impossible visions become reality through strict adherence of these principles is generally accepted.
What the Lead Coordinator proposes is the recruitment of 100,000 totally committed prayer warriors, who choose to meet spiritually once per month to feed the American soul. These prayer warriors are organized around 5 spiritual centers who agree to support this effort. One spiritual center each in Anchorage, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta and New York – or accompanying areas. Starting in November 2012, the Lead Coordinator will organize a prayer service in support of feeding the American soul each month until December 2015.
1) From the First to the Third of every month, beginning Nov. 1 – 3, 2012 these prayer warriors will choose to engage in an absolute fast and prayer routine. Prayer occurs at 7 am, Noon and 3 pm on each of those days. That makes a total of 9 prayers. The missed meals are donated to one of the five selected spiritual centers throughout the country, whichever one is closest to the said prayer warrior.
2) The Lead Coordinator will raise $25,000 by February/March 2013 and relocate to Chicago. This $25,000 will free him for 6 months to organize 15 partnerships designed to support the expansion of Children’s Meal Mission nationally. To support himself and this expansion, the Lead Coordinator will sell existing e-books/booklets that he has authored, conduct workshops/lectures and organize fundraisers. The goal is to establish a National Support Fund of $100,000 by September 2013. A team of three trustworthy individuals, outside of the Lead Coordinator, will supervise this fund. Lastly, the Lead Coordinator will systematically petition America’s nationally elected leaders, i.e. Congress, to sign a Pledge in Support of American Childhood.
3) The Lead Coordinator will recruit 50 State Coordinators and 100 Advocates. State Coordinators will assist him with
- a) a national website,
- b) establishing a minimum of 200 grassroots vertical structures (from farm to Children’s Meal Mission site)
- c) Three annual Hunger Action Month national events and
- d) the creation of 150 ($10,000 annual) grants designed to empower direct feeding programs throughout America.
State Advocates will assist State Coordinators with
- e) an aggressive social media campaign designed to organize America to address child hunger by December 31, 2012, including the posting of 20.6 million END CHILD HUNGER pictures form around the country,
- f) conducting canned food/peanut butter drives,
- g) partnerships with local PTA and NEA to increase participation in breakfast/lunch programs.
This plan is possible. It is concrete. The network of anti-hunger organizations is already established. What is needed is guidance. American communities need organizers to implement the vision of addressing child hunger. The labor pool for the above plan is 1) high school students who need to augument their portfolios for higher education, 2) social work/political science college students who access internships, 3) VISTA/AMERIcorp volunteers, 4) spiritually motivated individuals and existing anti-hunger employees of food banks.
While the above plan is very comprehensive and lays out what the vision is, many who contact the By2015:AMERICA movement ask what they can do STEP BY STEP to assist us. For those instructions, please follow this link: https://by2015america.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/how-you-can-help-the-by2015america-movement-address-child-hunger/