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Philanthropy Lesson #2: Cooks in the Kitchen

Meet Sophie Azouaou, 7x7’s new Community Impact Contributor. As owner of SophiSticate Interiors and host of the upcoming NBC TV show, Touching Hearts, she has established herself as a key player in the Bay Area community and is a valuable resource on ways to lend a hand. In this column, Sophie serves up the philanthropy dish for the budget-conscious volunteer. Tune in to get tips on giving back that put your mind and your wallet at ease.

In our culture, we are constantly bombarded with thoughts of food. Advertisements have us picnicking, health concerns have us panicking and the food chain links us to our wallets. The sad fact is, our society gets so caught up in the “what” of eating, we so often forget the “why.” The question we so easily take for granted of “What will I eat today?” is rapidly becoming “Will I eat today?” for many people in this worsening economy.

Already, 150,000 people fight a constant battle to feed themselves and their families in the Bay Area alone. According to a March 2009 article on CNN.com, the number of people on the food stamp program, renamed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), has increased by 700,000 individuals in the past month alone, with a record 31.8 million current recipients nationwide. With Bay Area shelters and nonprofit organizations facing a future of downsizing and door-closing, now is the time to donate food items and dust off your aprons, because this time, there can’t be too many cooks in the kitchen. Here’s what you can do.

Run a Food Drive: Contact the SF Food Bank to find out how to host a food drive at an office, school or other public meeting place. They’ll provide you with barrels to place outside buildings to collect donations of non-perishable food items and then food bank workers will pick them up when full. It’s that easy!

Volunteer: Give your time to a “soup kitchen” in need. Help distribute food to individuals and families, sort foods in a warehouse or serve and prepare food in a kitchen near you. Check out one of these links to get started: Food Runners and Second Harvest Food Bank.

Prepare Food for Donation: Love to cook? Call one of the aforementioned locations and ask where and for whom you can prepare your favorite dishes.

Check back in the coming weeks for your next philanthropy lesson or contact Sophie directly in the meantime for more information. sophie@touchingheartstvshow.com, 415-694-2307,
touchingheartstvshow.com.