New Feeding Center Opens in Honduras Thanks to the Band Sister Hazel and Their Fans

We have long been partners with the band Sister Hazel. They make a unique kind of music that blends country and rock’n’roll harmonies with Southern pop. They’ve dubbed their fans “Hazelnuts” and for several years now, the guys in the band and their fans have sponsored children in Honduras.

Children Living In a Dump

Three years ago, Sister Hazel visited the community where their sponsored children live. Los Laureles is situated at the base of a huge dump which young and old alike scour for plastic and metal items to sell to recycling. Most of the homes are built out of garbage: nylon, cardboard, tin sheets and any other material they can find. Very few houses are built with cement blocks. Some of the houses are built high up on a plateau of the community, and because of the uneven and steep terrain, are very difficult to get to. None of these homes have indoor plumbing.

rough uneven terrain

Before Feed the Children arrived here, food supplies were very irregular. A church would provide 2 meals a week, and the government distributed some basic staples like rice, corn, and beans, but done in very basic conditions. The kids were malnourished, anemic, and riddled with parasites.

We asked a mom about what those days were like. Gennis is the mother of 5, including a first-grader named Kimberly. Gennis explained, “My children many times attended classes with only one cup of coffee in their stomach because I didn’t have anything else to give.”

Feed the Children’s Work with Los Laureles

Before Sister Hazel adopted the community in 2012, Feed the Children had worked for several years with help from generous partners, including TOMSVitamin Angels, and others, to provide nourishing food, medical care, vitamins, backpacks and school supplies, clothes and shoes, and improvements to the school facilities.

When Sister Hazel visited, they connected with the people of Los Laureles in such a profound way that the guys returned to the USA fired up about doing something BIG to help the community become independent.

Two years ago, Sister Hazel challenged the Hazelnuts to do two things: sponsor every one of the 221 children in Los Laureles, a goal they reached in December 2013, and raise the $75,000 needed to build a real feedingcenter for the community. This new facility will be a sturdy and permanent building with a steady supply of safe drinking water, a real kitchen, and soap and water for basic hygiene.

The Hazelnuts came through in a BIG way. Within a year, they’d raised the money!

In December 2013, our president and CEO Kevin Hagan, along with his wife Elizabeth, visited Los Laureles for the groundbreaking of the new feeding center.

Today, we are thrilled to announce that the new center is open! Sister Hazel returned to the community to witness the transformation there and to celebrate the feeding center’s grand opening.

Grand Opening Festivities

ribbon cutting at the feeding center

sister hazel tshirt frontthanks sister hazel and donors

 

 

karen sees a camera

moms in the new kitchen

water purifier in feeding center

kids in the new feeding center

If you’re familiar with Sister Hazel, or if you want to get to know their music, they’re releasing a special anniversary collection to celebrate 20 years of award-winning music. The album, 20 STAGES, includes live recordings, videos culled from 20 of the band’s favorite venues, and 3 brand new, never released tracks. 20 Stages is available now on iTunes & Amazon, in select Best Buy stores as well as Sister Hazel’s official online merch store

Standing with Children Affected by HIV

Today is Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS Day. Begun in 2005 by UNICEF, this global campaign shows others what HIV/ AIDS does to the innocent children born into the disease, and how to minimize and prevent that harm.

The World Health Organization states that “HIV/AIDS remains one of the world’s most significant public health challenges, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.” The latest report published in 2013 says that 35 million people are living with HIV around the world, and of those, approximately 3.2 million are kids.

Some of the children in our programs are living with HIV, either because their own status is positive or because one or both of their parents are HIV positive. Today, we unite with those children, and with our colleagues around the world, against HIV/AIDS.

A significant proportion of those we see living with HIV live in Kenya. Our health officers work hard to end the spread of HIV especially among mothers and children in this East African nation, where at least 200,000 children are currently living with HIV. The disease has orphaned another estimated 100,000 under the age of 17. (Source)

Abandoned Babies Center

Many of the children admitted into our Abandoned Babies and Children Center in Nairobi come from families ravaged by HIV, and many carry the virus in their own bodies.

We often take in very sick children abandoned at our doorstep or referred to us by the police. We provide medical care, protection, and proper nutrition and even the most hopelessly sick of these kids begin to grow.

One of the boys living in the ABC Center was abandoned by his family when he was around 9 years old because they learned he was HIV positive. Today he’s ten and thriving under the care of Feed the Children staff. He goes to school and plays soccer with his new friends. We hope one day to reunite him with his family.

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Livelihood Projects

Being HIV positive in Kenya carries a nearly-insurmountable stigma, especially for women and mothers who often can’t find jobs to support their families. When their parents can’t provide life’s basic necessities, children lose that trademark of childhood – dreams for the future. Their hope is devoured by hunger and the desperate struggle to find the next small meal. They can’t attend school without money to pay the school fees, nor can they get any medical attention when they get sick.

Feed the Children’s Livelihood projects in Kenya focus on equipping women who are living with HIV/AIDS with skills and income-earning activities. To date, we’re working with 15 groups of approximately 25 women each from different slums in Nairobi.

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In these groups, women learn and then teach each other valuable skills like making soap, working with tie-dye, crafting jewelry, and making purses. They sell their products to visitors in the Feed the Children office in Nairobi. We ship many of these items to our retail store in Oklahoma City. The ladies also have the option to sell the products on their own in tourist areas.

One of the women positively glowed as she talked about how her life has changed since she joined the group. “When we were trained, I liked the beadwork the best. When we sold the items, I was very happy to receive money, and I decided to invest in beadwork. Now I make bangles, Christmas cards, Easter cards, necklaces with different designs and so many beautiful things. With my acquired skills, I don’t have a problem at all getting food like I used to.”

When you support our international programs, including child sponsorship, you help sustain these Care Groups as they equip mothers to provide for their own children. Empowering women ensures that their children thrive.

This work is changing lives, both of children and their parents who are affected by HIV.

“Feed the Children has actually healed me . . . I was so down, hopeless and just didn’t know what to do with my life. I was hiding from the world because of my status. I really want to thank Feed the Children for the skills training that they imparted to me and other ladies in a similar situation.”

Unite with children against HIV/AIDS .

In our gift catalog, you can give care for one of our abandoned babies in Kenya for a year.

Hunger Headlines- Week of September 8

See what is going on in the world of hunger this week. Check out these headlines:

Thought Leadership

Leadership Lesson: The Burden and Blessing

Feed the Children President and CEO Kevin Hagan writes this week about his responsibility as a leader. It’s a blessing he says to interact with thousands of children across the world who are blessed because of our programs, but he also feels the burden to do more! It’s a conviction that he hopes our staff around the world also feels. Read this post on Kevin’s blog.

Poverty News

Gap in Diet Quality Between Wealthiest and Poorest Americans Doubles, Study Finds

Although the study found that the diet of all Americans improved on average between 2005 and 2010, the progress masked a decline in diet quality among the poor. The result: a doubling of the gap in diet quality between the wealthiest Americans and the poorest. Access to quality food at supermarkets is a key. Read this National Geographic article.

Poverty rate higher in suburbs, than cities, including Seattle area

When we think of poverty in the US, our mind often goes to the inner city, assuming that poverty is concentrated in urban area. However, a new study released recently states otherwise. From 2000 to 2011, the number of Americans living below the federal poverty level ($23,492 for a family of four in 2012) rose about 36 percent, to 46.2 million. Contrast that with the number of suburban poor, which grew 64 percent. Read more in the Seattle Times article

Domestic Hunger News

America May Have Worst Hunger Problem of Any Rich Nation

According to Gallup’s findings, cited by the OECD, Americans are far more likely to say they were unable to pay for food than citizens of other rich countries. In 2011 and 2012, 21 percent of U.S. citizens reported food trouble, versus 8 percent of British survey takers, 6 percent of Swedes, and 5 percent of Germans. Estonia and Hungary had bigger problems with food affordability than the U.S., but both are relatively poor among Global North nations. Read the rest on Slate

Food-Stamp Use Starting to Fall

After soaring in the years since the recession, use of food stamps, one of the federal government’s biggest social-welfare programs, is beginning to decline. 46.2 million Americans received food stamps in May (the latest data available), down 1.6 million from a record 47.8 million in December 2012. Some 14.8% of the U.S. population is on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, down from 15.3% last August, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. Read more good news on the Wall Street Journal.

International Hunger News

World Water Water Week: Five Countries Most Affected by Water Scarcity

At Feed the Children, we celebrated World Water Week August 31-September 5 with many other organizations. The World Water Week was instituted by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) in 1991 to raise awareness on water issues. Do you know the five countries most likely to face drought? Educate yourself. Read the International Business Times article here. 

Where Are Our Christian Values?

Over the past several weeks, we’ve introduced you to the new Feed the Children. We’ve told you that our future lies with the children. The young without limits. The spirited who dream big. The hopeful who envision a better world, a world where no child goes to bed hungry.

We’ve told you that to end childhood hunger, we need to empower children, unite forces, and attack the problem from all angles and that it takes all of us in the fight: donors, experts, organizations, communities and leaders.

But we haven’t yet told you more about values. At Feed the Children, these values motivate us:

Challenge convention: we believe that a future without hungry children is possible.

Defend dignity: we believe in treating each child and family in the communities where we work with value and worth.

Champion partnership: we believe collaboration is the only way to end childhood hunger.

Value every donor: we believe in donors playing an active role in ending childhood hunger.

Drive accountability: we believe in making changes when something isn’t working and building on the success when it is.

When some look at this list they may ask, “What happened to the word ‘Christian?’ Wasn’t ‘Christian’ one of your values before? Are you no longer a Christian organization?

To answer these questions, we need to tell you bit more of our story.

In 1979, a group of Christian leaders sensed a calling to care for, protect, and feed children in need around the world. They read the exhortations of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 25 to feed “the hungry” and give water “to the thirsty” and provide “clothes” to those without.

In response, these Christians knew they needed to act. How could they not? Collectively, they began raising support and organizing leaders toward this cause, eventually founding the organization called Feed the Children in their hometown of Oklahoma City.

For over 35 years, Feed the Children has served thousands of communities all over the world and in the United States motivated by this same fact—Jesus teaches all of us to look after the most vulnerable citizens of this world.

feeding in Tanzania

And we’ve done so without discrimination. We’ve fed children with Christian parents. We’ve given water to children in Muslim nations. We’ve helped children learn in the slums of Central America. We’ve given children permission to dream big for their future in America’s inner cities.

We’ve done so because it is the right thing to do. How can you see a hungry kid and turn away? Jesus couldn’t. And many of our employees have joined our team out of their own faith calling. They work tirelessly on behalf of the children not only because they believe in the mission that no child go to bed hungry but because it is what Jesus said to do.

This is our faith story: Feed the Children is a show, not tell, organization.

The great saint of the church, Francis of Assisi once said,  “Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words.”

This is why you no longer see the word “Christian” in our values statement. We believe we don’t need it.

In fact, we believe all of our value statements reflect who Jesus was and what he taught:

Didn’t Jesus challenge convention when he overthrew the money tables in the temple courts?

Didn’t Jesus defend dignity when he pushed the unlikely to the front of the line: the women, the children, and the sick?

Didn’t Jesus champion partnership when he chose 12 followers to journey alongside him for his teaching ministry on earth?

Didn’t Jesus value every donor when he taught the 5,000+ gathered on the mount and then fed them a plentiful meal too?

Didn’t Jesus drive accountability when he challenged the popular teachers of the day who were more interested making a dollar than they were caring for souls?

For these reasons and many more, our team is proud of our brand values. To live into a mission that loves, protects and defends kids is a worthy and exciting calling.

We believe the world needs more Christians who put feet to their faith and act on what they believe. Or as James 1:22 tells us, “Do not merely listen to the Word of God, but do what it says.”

This is most what we want you to know: Feed the Children is motivated by Jesus’ teachings every day. But you won’t find us congratulating ourselves from the mountaintops. With every child we feed, with every parent and caregiver of children we empower, with every community we engage with hope, we seek to BE Christ’s hands and feet in the world.

Poverty Is Not Patriotic: The State of Our Union

If you live in the United States, you’re reading this on our biggest patriotic holiday — Independence Day. We celebrate on July 4 with fireworks, cookouts, flags and bunting, apple pies, and parades.

We enjoy celebrating our national holidays, but we also find them to be good days to take an honest look at how we’re doing as a nation. The USA is a wonderful place to call home. But as the following infographic shows, we still have some work to do to ensure liberty and justice for all.

4th-of-July-Infographic

Americans clearly still need some help. Wanna be patriotic today?  Join our Feed America’s Children campaign.

But the news isn’t all bad. Follow the blog so you don’t miss future posts sharing the good news in the fight against hunger!

Sources:

http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/supplement/2013/3e.html#table3.e8

http://www.census.gov/how/infographics/poverty_measure-how.html

Hunger Headlines from the Past Week

The Current System is Broken: Bringing Hunger Relief Home for the Summer

During the school year, 21 million American children qualify for free or low-cost school meals from school lunch programs. But when school ends, so do these reliable meals. Kids right here in the United States are going hungry this summer, wondering where their next meal will come from (we call this “food insecurity”). How can they enjoy a summer of just being kids when their stomachs are growling? That’s just it – they can’t.

Read Kevin Hagan’s entire article on The Huffington Post

 

Two Years In: Meet the New Feed the Children

Our new brand reflects our renewed commitment to do more together so that more kids can just be kids and no child ever goes to bed hungry. It’s a promise we make to the world and to ourselves about how we will carry out our mission. Our mission stays the same: to ensure that no child goes to bed hungry. Our brand is how we go about doing that.

The theme of all our messages—and theme of all our work—is to help kids be kids.

Read the rest on Kevin Hagan’s blog

 

Poll: Fewer Americans Blame Poverty on the Poor

As millions of Americans continue to struggle in a sluggish economy, a growing portion of the country says that poverty is caused by circumstances beyond individual control, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. The poll shows a significant shift in American opinion on the causes of poverty since the last time the question was asked, nearly 20 years ago.

View the results and infographic on NBCNews.com

 

Young People Are Much More At Risk To Be Poor Now

The OECD (The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) is out with a new report on rising income inequality. The key finding that stands out, is that the risk of poverty has shifted from the elderly, those over the age of 65, to young adults, those between the ages of 18 and 25.

Read more on Business Insider

 

World Refugee Day: Shameful That Tens of Thousands of Children in South Sudan Could Die From Lack of Food

Almost a million people have been forced to leave their homes in South Sudan following months of violent conflict. Over one million are displaced and dispersed in hard to reach areas in the country, and over 350,000 more have fled South Sudan for refuge in neighbouring nations. These statistics, like many others you will no doubt read today on World Refugee Day are shocking in their scale. Unless we act now, these numbers will be about death rather than displacement – because famine is looming.

Find out where the glimmers of hope are for Sudanese kids

 

What do you recommend from last week’s hunger headlines?

Do You Write To Your Sponsored Child?

Thousands of you have become child sponsors over the past year. To each of you — thank you for keeping children from going to bed hungry.

You may already know the 5 Myths of Child Sponsorship, but do you know what child sponsorship does for kids over the long-term?

When you sponsor a child:

  • You help her become the hero in her fight to escape the cycle of poverty, and you also uplift her entire community.
  • You help pay for his school fees, life-saving preventative medicine, and access to safe, clean drinking water.
  • You remove the insecurity of not knowing when she will eat next.

Awesome, right? But there’s so much more! You can transform a child’s life far beyond his or her physical needs in one very simply way — by writing a letter!

When you exchange simple letters with your sponsored child, you give them a powerful gift that transcends surface needs. I’ve taken many sponsors to visit their sponsored children. They have very few possessions, but in every case, the child had the letters and pictures they received from their sponsor right next to their bed. Children love hearing from their sponsor!

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Many years before he became the President of Compassion International, Wes Stafford set out to prove that letter writing between sponsor and child was a worthless exercise. He actually did his doctoral thesis on the impact of sponsored children’s letter writing on the children in order to prove that it made little difference to and on them.

But instead, he found that children who exchanged letters with their sponsor:

  • Received better grades in school
  • Completed more years of school
  • Were healthier
  • Had a better outlook on life
  • Had a higher percentage of positive outcomes in life after graduating from the sponsorship program

It’s quite simple, really. Children who receive regular letters from their sponsor do better at school, at home and in their community because those letters show that somebody loves them. They feel seen, heard and important to their sponsor. Knowing someone cares how they are doing boosts their energy and ability to fight for a better life for themselves.

To know and to be known — it’s a powerful resource for a child fighting hunger. Write to your sponsored child today!

Childhood Hunger: Who’s the Hero?

Our future lies with the children. The young without limits. The spirited who dream big. The hopeful who envision a better world, a world where no child goes to bed hungry.

It’s a simple statement, one we can all believe in. Food is essential to all, yet out of reach for many. Without it, our children can’t think. They can’t do. They can’t thrive and they can’t dream. Kids are the heroes of the story, and hunger is their Kryptonite.

Childhood hunger is deeply rooted. It’s an invisible enemy, ruthless and deadly, maiming and even destroying childhood. It’s not easy to defeat.

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Some provide food to those who need it, when they need it. Others attack the root cause. Most try to do it alone.

This is not enough. To only feed perpetuates the cycle of poverty. To attack the root cause neglects those in need today. To believe one organization can do it alone is hubris and simply maintains the status quo.

At Feed the Children, we know that to end childhood hunger, we need to empower children, unite forces, and attack the problem from all angles. It takes all of us:

  • Donors to believe in the cause
  • Experts to diagnose the problem and innovate solutions
  • Organizations to pool their resources and expertise
  • Communities to work together toward sustainable success
  • Leaders to institutionalize change

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It takes the power of many standing with the children to fight childhood hunger, to defeat the status quo.

This is the fight we have chosen. We chose it, not because it is easy, but because it is the right thing to do. Because our children need someone to fight with them and for them.

Because it is the only way to ensure that one day, no child goes to bed hungry.

Join our fight to defeat hunger and help kids be kids.

Malawi: Something to Be Excited About

A Conversation with Trevor Moe, Senior Director of Government and International Relations

For us at Feed the Children, it’s always exciting to hear stories from the field first hand—whether it is from those who are on the front lines of defeating hunger in communities where we work or from our staff visiting programs in countries different from their own.

Recently, Trevor Moe, Senior Director of Government and International Relations based in Washington DC traveled to Malawi with Edna Onchiri, Public Relations and Communications Manager in Kenya. He came back thrilled about what he saw and experienced, and we thought you’d like to know about it too.

1237155_10201627258700445_1527329178_nBEYOND: Describe your role at Feed the Children and why you visited Malawi this month.

Trevor: In our Washington DC office, I wear a number of hats connected to both our domestic and international program offices. But the two main goals of my position are 1) business development—to help fewer children go to bed hungry around the world 2) public policy—to influence those in positions of leadership to make decisions that care for the most vulnerable among us. I went to Malawi under the umbrella of business development – to find out how we can do our work more effectively there.

In Malawi, our programs receive funding from three sources: corporate donors (we are especially thankful for our partnership with NuSkin), private donors, and U.S. government grants. We received a USAID grant for our work in Malawi that continues through 2015 and recently we received a grant to support some of our water programs.

The scope of my trip focused on how we can continue to be good stewards of all of our partnerships.

BEYOND: What about your visit to Malawi surprised you?

Trevor: I was surprised by how kind and welcoming the people were to me, an outsider. They say that Malawi is the friendliest country in Africa, and now that I’ve been there, I have to agree. Strangers on the street came up to talk, genuinely interested in me and my visit there.

I also was surprised by how devastating the poverty was! The people have so little. Children in Malawi are at risk of dire malnutrition. As a nation, they are eager for help, for knowledge, for methodology—for any wisdom that could improve their lives.

BEYOND: What do you think our donors would most like to know about our work in Malawi?

Trevor: I’ve been a lot of places in the Global South, but what I most want to say is that the work we do in Malawi is wide-reaching and very effective. We serve 842 communities! Feed the Children is fighting hunger all over Malawi in places others are not.

And I learned this: every child who receives deworming medication anywhere in Malawi gets it from Feed the Children. We are on the front lines stomping out hunger. Donors, you should be proud of the world you are creating there!

BEYOND: As you reflect on your trip now, what are the hopes of the people of Malawi? What do they want for their future?

Trevor: I think Malawians want what everybody wants for their lives. They want a better life for their children. They want to know that their kids will be taken care of and have opportunities to grow up strong.

In one of the villages I visited, I met William who is a carver. I asked him what he hoped for and he told me, “I want be able to provide for my family a tin roof.”

I asked, “Why that?”

“A tin roof would keep my wife and my two boys dry during the rainy season.”

He wants a tin roof. That’s all.

BEYOND: Anything else you want to share with us?

Trevor: I love my job. Every day, I’m seeking to connect resources to the Williams of this world. People who have dreams the same as I do and who just want to have a better life.