Menu of Hope

On Monday, February 27th, Children’s Hunger Alliance 22nd Annual Menu of Hope luncheon took place.  This is the biggest annual fundraiser that Children’s Hunger Alliance organizes to gain the majority of funds needed to feed Ohio’s children, and assisting with its planning was my main purpose as a fellow.  After months of learning exactly what the fundraising and development team does, it was amazing to see firsthand how all of their hard work paid off.  Without this experience, I would not have learned what makes up the hours of hard work needed for obtaining support and donors, guest confirmations, script writing, table organization, etc.  On Sunday night, I joined the team at the Hyatt to set up the event, and the significance of the event sunk in once I saw around 90 tables set up in a ballroom and the stage in place.  I am grateful that I have learned about this field from a team of people that take their job very seriously.  On the day of the event, I spent some time going around to each seat at each table to make sure that each place setting looked perfect, and that each guest would feel welcomed.

As someone who often thinks about things in a “big picture” way, this experience of being a fellow has really challenged me to look at the details.  This was clear after seeing time and time again how one email to one person can make a huge difference in the success of the agency and the lives of the children they serve.  When working with donors or guests prior, during, or even after the event, making sure each individual feels valued and that they have a positive experience can lead to enormous gains for an organization.  While working on press releases or the new website, the focus is clearly on reaching the masses. Getting out the basic information about why Children’s Hunger Alliance is important and the great number of children they are able to feed to as many people as possible is essential.  Other times, such as in personal conversation or events in the area, I have learned how important it is to be a steward of the work you are promoting. I underestimated the power of a specific story about one child and how their life has been directly impacted by the program, and how that story can touch one donor in a very powerful way.

At the event, John Quinones told the story of his own struggles growing up not always knowing where his next meal would come from.  He talked about the resources and opportunities that got him to where he is today, recognizing that his situation and his success does not happen for most kids struggling with insecurity today.  Mr. Quinones also talked about his show, “What Would You Do”, and I had a moment of personal reflection on how I can be more intentional about the things I do in my life.  Working at Children’s Hunger Alliance has really helped me learn more about how huge of an issue that food insecurity and food access is for children in Ohio, and how damaging those limits can be on their development and life success.  I have also learned how affordable it is to feed a child, and how I can contribute to that effort myself, and encourage those around me to follow.  Even after my experience as a fellow ends, I will continue to think about CHA and how I can contribute to the efforts to feed Ohio’s children.  The phrase, “If a hunger child asked you for food, what would you do?” is not going to get out of my head any time soon.

Emily Bango

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