When approximately one-sixth of the world's population goes to bed hungry, and there are five restaurants and a Starbucks within walking distance of my home, I am compelled to make a difference. Outside the Bowl (www.outsidethebowl.org) allows me to donate, volunteer and actually see the difference they are making in Mexico, Haiti and South Africa.
After learning through my church how Outside the Bowl builds kitchens to supply hearty soup to local organizations—including orphanages, senior centers, schools, and hospitals—in areas where there is no food security, I decided to support them with a small, monthly donation. Then, this summer, I had the opportunity to go to Haiti to assist them in establishing a new, larger kitchen in Port-au-Prince. I knew I had to do something more than just write a check every month.
I learned that Outside the Bowl hires only local men and women to run and work in each of their kitchens. Every day, soups are made using traditional recipes and community-grown produce, when possible. Meals are made in large kettles, transferred into 5-gallon buckets, and driven out to groups that partner with OTB. The soup is made and dispersed throughout the day—feeding thousands of children and adults on a daily basis.
One afternoon, I helped out at an orphanage that provides soup to about 100+ children in the surrounding community. Outside the Bowl often provides the only hot meal—and sometimes the ONLY meal—that these poorest of the poor receive. Unlike here in the United States, when these children eat, there is no talking, laughing or silliness. They are serious about eating and they eat quickly. When some of the older children were finished, I watched them prey upon the food of the younger children—taking whatever was left and hurriedly eating it. It broke my heart to see these tiny children trying to protect what little food they had. I realized that this is what hunger does. It turns playmates into predators and leaves the most vulnerable at risk. Thankfully, I was able to rescue the plate of a little girl and feed her the rest of her meal.
While in Haiti, I realized that giving to Outside the Bowl is actually like supporting multiple not-for-profit organizations. Once a kitchen is established, OTB works with and partners with local ministries and social service organizations that are responsible for feeding large groups of people. OTB provides meals that are less expensive, more nutritious and better tasting than most can get through other food services or on-site kitchens. These groups are able to save on feeding costs, allowing more money to stay in their own coffers to help more people.
Through these partnerships, OTB kitchens become self-sustaining. The small amount paid to OTB for meals goes toward staff wages, soup ingredients, and overhead. Any extra, beyond expenses, is divided with half going into a fund for repairs or kitchen emergencies and the other half into a fund to build new kitchens in other communities.
Through this experience, I discovered that the money I give not only helps to build one kitchen, but provides jobs for local employees and farmers and ultimately helps to fund other kitchens into perpetuity. I talked with OTB partners and saw how other ministries and organizations receive the benefit of good, nutritious food at a cost savings that allows them to help more people and provide more services. But most importantly, I saw how my support provides life sustaining food—something that I so often take for granted—to truly hungry children.
Review from #MyGivingStory