• True Leadership Lies in the Willingness to Decide

    A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.
    — Tony Robbins

    Kwale County is home to Shimba Hills Natural Reserve which is rich in biodiversity. The region is characterized by hot and dry weather between January and April and cool weather between June and August. Kwale County is endowed with rivers and streams, many of which are seasonal. Therefore, the County has a huge agricultural potential. However, with a population of 496,133 residents, the County is yet to fully exploit the agricultural potential thus leading to over 64% of the population leaving below the poverty line. In a County with a young population of over 55%, the situation at the moment clearly threatens the future of the otherwise productive environment. Additionally, the region suffers from lack of mechanized and innovative forms of agriculture with the capacity to grow crops and sustain the economy of the growing towns and population. Agriculture, it has been noted by researchers from Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, is the most significant activity that Kwale County can thrive in. However, as extension officers in the ground note, the situation is a far cry from the potential that the region has. This reality, coupled with our passion and strong desire to increase the impact of agriculture as a business, led us to make a decision to make the County the bread basket for the region.

    In July 2013, we (Dr. Esther Ngumbi and I) took a journey down the Coast of Kenya. One of us was born and raised there; the other was just getting to know this part of Kenya. However, speaking the language of action got us started. We started with Greenhouse production for four months, then open-farm production for another three months. Learning lessons sometime come from the daily experiences we have as a team. In our first operational Greenhouses, we learned that construction can have a monumental impact on production. The Coastal region of Kenya is generally a hot and humid region and Greenhouse production had to follow certain delicate procedures. Lessons learned from our first operational greenhouses have led us to erect greenhouses that take into consideration the hot and humid weather. From greenhouse production, we proceeded to experiment with open-farm production. The basic idea was to follow through our plans in an organized business-oriented manner as our vision was to promote farming as a business and not a development activity. For our open-farm production, we decided to get ten farmers to work with and went through the county structure until we got the most effective, aggressive, and willing farmers who would engage in production of food for our markets. We also decided to gain insights into the market through rigorous research.

    In 2014, we will begin large scale open farm production. We will utilize 72 acres that our farmers have for vegetable and fruit production. The production officially begins in January and we plan to expose our farmers to different sources of information and good extension services in order to provide a model approach to farming in the Coast region. Our farmers are also being exposed to a training curriculum on current technologies that would enable them produce high quality produce for our market. The focus shall be on high impact crops. We believe that our greenhouse/open-farm production initiative when scaled up will contribute to developing Kwale County in so many ways including 1) Improving food security and nutrition, 2) Creating employment opportunities for women and youth which will lead to economic empowerment and poverty alleviation. We also believe that our initiatives can make the Kenyan Coast be the next hub where agriculture, greenhouse/open-farm technology, entrepreneurship, and smart marketing using technology intersect to produce an everlasting change.

    The journey has not been an easy one and like those who have had to make such decisions, we do not credit ourselves with originality in approach or thought. Remember, food security was solved decades ago, theoretically. The only challenge is that the failures to make decisions to spread the knowledge on farming and provide access to farming technologies have disenfranchised farmers who become beggars whenever they experience financial and/or environmental shocks.

    J.F.K. argues that there are risks and costs to action; but they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction. Our action may only be covering a small part of this world, but we believe that if everybody got serious about taking action, then in the near future our children will go the museums to look at how poverty and hunger once WAS.


  • Holiday Gift Giving Guide

    Do you have someone hard to shop for? Or someone who already has everything? Or how about someone who is involved in charity work? Even someone who simply enjoys the ideas of a gift that not only benefits themselves, but others as well?


    The person you have in mind right now is the type of person Kini is. Kini lives in Fiji and is the definition of a loving, strong mother and a positive, inspirational light to those who are lucky enough to enjoy her company.

    But that doesn’t answer our question. You have this person you need to shop for (or let’s be honest, after you see these, you may want one yourself!) This simple necklace is much more than it seems. It’s a donation towards the house that will be home to all of Kini’s family, it will be the setting of the stories she tells to her guests for years to come. Kini’s new house will be able to light up her life just as she has lit up others’.

    Handmade and simple, it’s an elegant accent piece with class. Not only is it attractive, but it is easily a conversation starter! Necklaces are easily purchased on the dellamae Etsy shop for $30 which completely goes toward construction on the house and shipped from Auburn, Alabama.



    Everyone needs G.E.A.R., right? “Go! Everyone, Everywhere and Re-Invent” showcases unique, recycled and reinvented items that would most likely be thrown away as extras.Located locally in Auburn, Alabama, G.E.A.R. is owned by Kellie Guthrie and managed by Kathryn Guthrie. Their main goal is change- change for the world.G.E.A.R. offers one-of-a-kind home accents and handmade purses and bags. Their collection can be found on along with their story.



  • Texas Hunger Summit


    November 13, 2013 · by  · in Hunger

    Melissa interacting with people

    Together at the Table: Hunger Summit at Baylor University brought together anti-hunger advocates from across Texas and around the country on October 24-25, providing an opportunity to pause to assess the current state of hunger in our nation and to share and explore ways we can end it. Summit speakers and participants reflected on the successes that have been made toward ending hunger, while also looking ahead to the work that still needs to be done. It was a time to recharge and refocus on one unifying goal: to eradicate hunger in our nation in our day and time.

    Among the many nuggets of expertise shared by the Summit’s esteemed presenters, a few shared themes continued surface throughout our time together, and we wanted to share of few of those here with our readers in hopes that you remain encouraged in your work to fight food insecurity in your schools, neighborhoods, cities and communities.

    Hunger is a solvable problem—if we work together.

    Sometimes we need to be reminded that the task before us can actually be accomplished.

    “We do not have to live with hunger in this nation.” Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, said. Berg encouraged Summit participants to view hunger as a solvable problem when working together. Hunger can be wiped out if the government and organizations on the ground truly work together to tackle the issue, he emphasized.

    The need to continue building anti-hunger collaboration across sectors was a sentiment reflected throughout the Summit.

    “With all of us being partners, how can we fail?” Audrey Rowe, administrator of the Food and Nutrition Service of the USDA, rallied Summit participants.


    Of course, progress takes time, and the work is challenging. We, as part of the anti-hunger community, must focus not on how our organizations differ but on the shared vision to end food insecurity in our nation. We must keep our attention trained on the people we are seeking to serve and support.

    Hunger is a symptom of a greater problem—poverty.

    Participants at the Summit were left inspired and informed, but also with a charge to look at hunger as part of the larger issue of poverty in America. Many of those considered food insecure are doing all they can to better their financial situation. But often, the desire to be self-sufficient is not enough when complications outside of their control come their way. Many are struggling to take any jobs they can, often with little pay, just to make ends meet. But these “non-standard work hours and low pay are a recipe for food insecurity,” Dr. Mariana Chilton, director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities and associate professor at Drexel University’s School of Public Health, said.

    Individuals who are financially insecure know they need education to improve their lives, but the cost of that education would plunge them into greater debt. Although they may not wish to, many rely on government benefits, such as SNAP, WIC, and cash welfare out of necessity.

    Many want to break the cycle of poverty. They want off of SNAP benefits. They want off of welfare, off of housing subsidies. They want a better, more self-sufficient life for themselves and their kids. However, there are complications to breaking the cycle of poverty. Often, when families work to earn more, they lose benefits that they still need in order to get back on their feet.

    “What happens when families are doing what they’re supposed to do—earn more money to get off the system? Prompted families earn a little bit more, and they lose their SNAP benefits, their children are actually more likely to be in poor health and experience hunger. It’s kind of counterintuitive,” Dr. Chilton said.

    “It’s time to shift the discussion surrounding hunger in this nation,” Audrey Rowe added. “The conversation shouldn’t be about SNAP. It should be about minimum wage and poverty.”

    The power of personal stories: changing the “narrative of hunger”

    At the heart of the issue and the statistics surrounding hunger are real people and real families. It’s the stories of their struggles that paint the most accurate, raw picture of hunger in America. These stories have power to create change. Celia Cole, CEO of the Texas Food Bank Network, said during her breakout session that TFBN would be implementing a story bank in the coming months and years. Dr. Chilton told us of the women of Witnesses to Hunger, who tell their stories directly to the media and legislators.

    “When the women get together, they are a force—a force to be reckoned with. They are pure power. They are greater than the sum of their parts,” Dr. Chilton said.

    Dr. Mariana Chilton

    But the anti-hunger community needs to do more than listen and broadcast these stories. Those experiencing hunger likewise need a place at the table. We need to engage and partner with them.

    “We need to change the narrative of hunger,” Kathy Underhill, executive director of Hunger Free Colorado, said.”

    To change the narrative, it’s going to take innovative strategies and risks. We must be willing to innovate and put ideas into action. “I think you get to decide what Texas will look like,” Underhill said.

    It’s time to change the story of hunger and poverty in our state and in our nation, but we must work together to transform the narrative.

    Trading knowledge leads to best practices (and more success) in fighting hunger.

    To best serve those in need, we must discover the strategies and practices that have been proven to work well. Our hope is that the Summit continues to serve as a think-tank atmosphere for the anti-hunger community, bringing together individuals, nonprofits, corporations and government offices that are all tackling the issue of hunger in different ways and from different angles.

    This year, the Summit offered eight different tracks on a variety of topics, including public policy, research & data, childhood hunger, health & nutrition, and more. Participants had a chance to explore the issue of hunger and how to address it from an assortment of professional perspectives.

    “There was incredible energy in those rooms,” Keven Vicknair, vice president of Strategic Thought at CitySquare, said. “At least for us, it was a catalyst event that could lead to many new ventures.”

    Thank you to all of the dedicated anti-hunger and anti-poverty advocates who attended and/or presented at this year’s Together at the Table: Hunger Summit. We, at the Texas Hunger Initiative, are encouraged by your commitment to a common goal for the common good. Here’s to making huge strides of progress together in the coming year!


    Written by: Ashley Yeaman & Christina Farjardo, Communications Coordinator and Communications Intern, Texas Hunger Initiative

    Photos by: Baylor University Copyright © 2013 (Melissa Rogers and Audrey Rowe) & Christina Fajardo, Communications Intern, Texas Hunger Iniaitive (Dr. Mariana Chilton)



    Reposted with permission from the Texas Hunger Initiative; to view original blog, please visit:


  • #GivingTuesday

    If you’re like me, Giving Tuesday didn’t ring a bell. Until this year.



    December 3, 2013 marks the second annual Giving Tuesday that starts out the giving season right after Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The purpose of Giving Tuesday is to support non-profitable organizations and promote charitable giving.

    The United Nations joined New York’s 92nd Street Y to initiate this post-holiday for all people, not just non-profits. To be officially recognized as a Giving Tuesday partner, though, you must be a registered non-profit, 501(c)3 in the United States.   Some notable partners include Adobe, American Eagle OutfittersDiscover, The Weather Channel, and Wal-mart. A full list of partners can be found here.


    What are some Giving Tuesday ideas?


    It can be as easy as volunteering at your favorite non-profit for an hour today, or signing up for a shift at your local food pantry for later in the month. As university students, often we think that once Christmas break starts, we are free from any obligations, school work, or volunteering that we normally do during the semester. This is the time when we are needed the most. It doesn’t mean you have to stay where your college or university is just to help out, but it can be as easy as picking up a shift in your hometown in place of a student who won’t be there in December. You can simply donate online or retweet a tweet from a charitable organization.

    Many cities are jumping aboard and proclaiming “Giving Tuesday” as an official event. St. Louis and Baltimore already initiated campaigns starting in early November such as “Bmore Give More.” Cities encourage their citizens to “give where they live.”


    @GivingTues is sweeping Twitter and quickly gaining followers who use the hashtag #GivingTuesday. Their feed currently includes links to other social media, donation pages, hunger pages like Feeding America’s, and celebrity pages like Kourtney Kardashian’s.


    Giving Tuesday is not simply one day out of the year to give back to the community, it is one day to kickstart a year of giving.



    To find out more about the United Nation Foundation’s Giving Tuesday and to stay up to date on their efforts, visit their website.


  • Miskolc, Hungary

    Miskolc, Hungary is in the northeastern region of Hungary near the Slovakia boarder. Why does the fourth largest city in Hungary need the Red Cross’s help?


    In recognition of World Food Day, Dennis Engel with the University of Miskolc (‘Miskolci Egyetem’ in Hungarian) arranged a collection day with the Red Cross. Along with raising money, they collected nonperishable foods. Engel and the Red Cross collected $45 in cash and food items worth about $93 at booths set up at both entrances to the university. Engel says that “we believe that the Red Cross is in a better position to distribute anything we collect, whether food or cash donations, than we here at the university are.”



    “This chapter was started last spring.  I took up a new position at this university in September of 2012 after having worked at Saint István University in Bekescsaba, Hungary for three years where some students and I started the first UFWH chapter in Hungary in the spring of 2011.  We held some very successful campaigns there, helped in large part by our being given access to hold collections at a super market across the street from the Bekescsaba campus.  Because I know the problem of hunger is something we should not ignore, and building on the positive experiences I had in Bekescsaba, I hoped to have similar results in Miskolc.  So, I shared information about UFWH with my classes to let students know about it, and asked them to start a group here.” -Engel

    Posters like this one were used to advertise the collections.


    Engel hopes that the Miskolc chapter will progress just as the Bekescaba has, although the Bekescaba chapter has faltered within the past few year. If you have any ideas to help these chapters grow, or would like to be in contact with Dennis himself, email him.


  • Feeding the Planet Summit at George Washington University

    On October 30th, students and agricultural leaders and experts will gather at George Washington University to discuss sustainable innovations in food security. USAID Administrator Shah will talk about the most innovative things America is doing in global food security.

    Join on social media and watch the livestream:





    Check out the Facebook event for more information and to see links to the speakers’ pages.


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