September 14, 2016

nokidhungry

When you think of childhood hunger, what comes to mind? For me, it’s usually those ads with kids in Africa with the distended tummies and some soft voice over about how for just pennies a day we can feed a starving child. I hate those ads. Not because I don’t support what they do, but because I feel like they’re preying on my kindness and desire to make the world better. As a kid, even though I didn’t have a lot of food, compared to those kids on TV I was eating like a queen.

A number of years ago I was at a conference and there was a booth about the No Kid Hungry program. I had never heard of the program and found out it was just a few years old, having rolled out as part of Share Our Strength in 2008. I knew exactly what they were trying to do. End child hunger in America.

It pains me that in this great country so many kids go to bed hungry every night. Even more kids deal with food insecurity, not knowing if they’ll have anything to take for lunch or to eat when they get home from school. We don’t think about kids in our own communities going without meals. Unlike many of the poorest countries in the world, as we go about our day the likelihood of encountering a child who deals with hunger or food insecurity isn’t something we see.

Yes, we know it exists. Yes, we donate to food pantries. Yes, we realize our kids go to school with students who get free or reduced meals. But it’s actually hard to really see and grasp.

Most people don’t know, but for almost all of elementary school I got free lunch. There were no snacks waiting for me when I got home. Meals were simple. Not as in simple because mom was busy. Simple as in “pretend tomato soup” made with ketchup and hot water, or half a sandwich because if I ate a whole one my mom would have nothing to eat. And meals were even more simple as the month wore on if my grandparents or my uncle didn’t “happen to stop by on their way home from the store.” I don’t think I ever went hungry in the sense that there was no food at all or that I went to school or to bed without eating something, but there was definitely a sense that if there was more food I would eat it.

I went to school early, usually leaving the house to catch the 6:45 a.m. bus so I could have breakfast. There were a lot of us, probably 10 kids, so it didn’t really seem all that weird. I wasn’t bullied or made fun of because I ate breakfast at school. In the summer, I rarely ate breakfast. Which is a habit born out of necessity that dies hard.

Every Monday my teacher would give me five lunch tickets. If I lost them, I wouldn’t have lunch. I diligently wrote my name on the back of each ticket, in case they got lost, and then put them in my pencil bag. I remember in 4th grade my lunch tickets were yellow. Some kids had blue tickets. Years later I understood why some kids were handed blue tickets and some kids yellow. It’s humbling to realize that my mother had to ask for help, yet she did everything so it wouldn’t affect me so much.

I know what food insecurity is. I understand how it can impact your ability to learn and pay attention in school. I have a great appreciation for the food that I am served because I often had a choice of eating food I didn’t care for or going hungry. When you’re 6 or 7 it’s a pretty easy choice.

Although we didn’t keep kosher – imaging trying to do that when you’re dependent on other people providing your food – there was a long list of food I couldn’t eat. I rarely ate meat, even at school. You don’t realize how often schools serve ham, or cheeseburgers, or sloppy joes until you have to trade your friends your main dish for their peas or carrots or corn. You don’t realize how few vegetables are actually served until you ask a number of the kids around you ‘are you going to eat that’ as you point to whatever vegetables they’ve pushed to the side just so you don’t feel hungry any more.

I don’t worry about if I will eat today. My daughter will never know a home without food, nutritious or otherwise. At nearly 50, I am still affected by the lack of food when I was a kid. Today, I have the privilege of choosing organic, nutritious, fresh foods. I also have the ability to be part of the solution to put an end to a situation I know too well.

Dine Out for No Kids Hungry is a month-long promotion in September to help end child hunger in America and get more people involved in solving this problem. There are thousands of restaurants participating across the country to help bring an end to child hunger and kids dealing with food insecurity. By dining out at a participating restaurant a portion of the profits from your meal will be donated to Share Our Strength. Go eat out!

With your change you can be the change. Kids should never have to worry about where their next meal will come from. Please learn more about No Kid Hungry by following them on Twitter, Like their Facebook page, and share your support of those restaurants and companies donating by tagging your photos with #NoKidHungry.

 

Note: It’s not easy to share stories like this, but as I get older I realize how important it is for me to shed the fear of sharing and do it to help kids like me. This is not a sponsored post.

Sara

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September 3, 2016

MotoZ Droid Smartphone

One of the newest and most versatile smartphones on the market is the Droid MotoZ Force from Motorola. As part of the Verizon influencer team I was given this revolutionary new smartphone and asked to use the it and share with you how this new modifiable smartphone can help busy moms and dads, as well as business professionals. It’s easily the coolest phone you can have.

From the front it’s just a regular looking phone. Sure, the MotoZ Force has a shatterproof and water resistant display, a 21mp camera, and up to 40 hours of battery life. But unlike every other phone, the MotoZ and the MotoZ Force (I have the MotoZ Force) are the first to have interchangable backs. You know how the first thing you usually do when you get a new phone is to get a case? With this smartphone there are no cases. With the ability to swap out the backs – whether it be for a chic designer back from Kate Spade, the Tumi woodgrain-look wireless charger, the JBL Soundboost speaker mod, the Moto Insta-Share Projector, or the other versatile mods – you can instantly transform a standard smartphone into an entertainment hub or productivity tool.

While the device comes with swapable backs in six different styles, it’s the ability to quickly change out the back that has me excited. Sure, a cool or cute case/cover is nice and allows you to personalize your phone, we rely on our devices to help us be more productive, more efficient, and so much more. How many times have we all been huddled around our or a friend’s phone trying to watch a funny video or photos from a trip? Countless, right? Have you ever been at a gathering, in your hotel room, in the back yard, beach, or park and wanted to listen to music with your family or friends but you don’t have portable speakers? I’m sure there have been times you would have loved to have that option.

 

A video posted by Sara Hawkins (@sarafhawkins) on

While I do have a great portable speaker, it’s not portable in the sense of tossing it in my bag. The JBL Soundboost mod, though, is one of the smallest and lightweight portable speakers. And to make it even better, this mod has a 10-hour battery built in! Bluetooth can use a lot of battery power, but with the integrated power with the stereo-quality JBL speakers your inner DJ will thank you. The interesting thing is that I never really knew I needed this mod until I got it and would leave without it and would want to listen to music or share something with sound and I’m searching for a cup or cupping my hand over the phone speaker to amplify the sound like some tech noob.

If you’re thinking that’s all fine and good to have a cool set of speakers, but how can it help me with my business or work, I’m here to tell you it’s even better. If you’re at a client meeting the speaker can act as a portable speakerphone to bring in a remote colleague in a professional way. With the JBL Soundboost any embedded audio in a presentation boosts that level of professionalism you’re going for in a business meeting. And, instead of having to connect via bluetooth to a separate device, just pop on the speaker mod and it’s a dance party! Or, you can listen to TED talks or  a conference livestream.

My favorite mod, though, is the Moto Insta-Share Projector. This is a game changer, folks! Besides being able to play movies, watch videos, or share photos directly from your phone for everyone to see the business uses for the projector will have your clients and colleagues amazed. The projector is a fun add-on, but let’s be real. As a $300 mod, it’s not for everyone. However, if you travel a lot and want to watch movies at the hotel or vacation rental, share photos with groups of friends and family, or even buy a movie screen and have backyard movie nights this projector mod is pretty awesome. As a business tool, $300 for a portable projector is an amazing price. It makes easy work of sharing presentations, showing what a design would look like on a specific surface, or sharing information with a group. I never thought I needed a portable projector; however, after having this one I found so many ways to use it for my business. And, of course, I’ve used it to project our summer travel slideshow.

There are a lot of different smartphone options on the market, but this is the first one that really takes portability to the max. The fact that the mods integrate seamlessly makes changing them out effortless. And with that ability to change how our phones work, business productivity and personal entertainment are taken to new heights.

The MotoZ and the MotoZ Force, along with the Moto Mods are available at your local Verizon store or online. With the best network come the best products!

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Sara

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