Getting a hearty meal has just become that much easier for at-risk Philadelphia schoolchildren, thanks to a massive donation from the non-profit organization Feeding Children Everywhere.
Recent reports show both the National School Lunch Program and the Summer Food Service Program are having trouble reaching the majority of the children both were designed to reach, which makes those 100,000 meals Feeding Children Everywhere is giving the School District of Philadelphia look even more appetizing.
“With our program, we provide healthy meals for children from central Philadelphia to central Africa. We work globally, but we have a real heart for home, because we live here and wanted to do something at home,” said Feeding Children Everywhere Founder and CEO Don Campbell. “And we wanted to see our education systems be healthy, which we think will solve many of the problems. Children can’t learn when they are hungry, because the biology of the body won’t allow students to retain any knowledge while dealing with hunger pains.”
Campbell and his wife, Kristen, scraped together their life savings and founded Feeding Children Everywhere shortly after the debilitating earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010. Three months later, the Campbells sent a container to Haiti containing 250,000 meals.
Campbell said one of his staff contacted the school district, and after a few rounds of talks, the program was in place to ship the 100,000 meals to the school district, allowing the district to most likely use the meals to feed SFSP-eligible students.
“We can provide the healthy meal, and put it in a school where the at-risk student can be identified in a dignified way, and drop the bag of food in their backpack,” Campbell said. “They can then bring the food home, and even prepare it for their families themselves. We’re not trying to keep up with Chef Boyardee, but we can put a healthy meal in the stomachs of families.”
Feeding Children Everywhere’s base package is a lentil casserole, which includes rice, Himalayan salt and a seven-vegetable blend. “You can take our base meal, add a Wal-Mart chicken to it, and you can feed a whole family of four to six for under $8,” Campbell said. “We don’t provide the chicken, but the base itself is unbelievable.”
The Campbells aren’t a pair of well-heeled socialites looking to cast away some sense of guilt; rather, Don Campbell comes from a background where his family needed just these sorts of programs to exist. To this day, the Campbells eat the very meals that they are shipping; one reason is because the meals are tasty, and the other is, to never let a sense of entitlement creep into their home.
“We choose to eat it; not because we necessarily need to, but to remind us that we are privileged,” Campbell said. “We’re not a Christian organization, but we do have core beliefs. I grew up in a broken house where food wasn’t accessible, so we try to live our lives with a purpose.”
A part of those beliefs circle back to volunteerism and everyone pitching in to the cause. To that end, Feeding Children Everywhere also established a series of projects. The donation to Philadelphia’s school district is part of “Project 3 Tampa,” in which three million meals will be packaged and delivered to distressed school districts and crisis food pantries across the country; 100,000 of those meals are headed to Philadelphia.
“We understand there’s a need, and that people are hungry,” Campbell said, noting that every $1 donated will feed four individuals. “Even a three-year-old can donate a quarter at our packing events across the country.
“We intentionally make it very simple,” Campbell continued, mentioning that folks can donate through their website, www.FeedingChildrenEverywhere.com. “One dollar equals four great meals. If you have 1,000 people donate ten bucks, you can raise a lot of money very quickly; then multiply that by four, and you have people from every walk of life feeding kids and families.
“A $10 bill goes in one end, and 40 meals come out the other end.”