A smart video flips our trendy recipe obsession to speak volumes about hunger in America
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Gates Foundation: The Story of Food

There's something delicious and addicting about those trendy recipe videos circulating online. You've seen them before: the quick and beautiful play-by-plays of mouthwatering dishes you wish you were eating at this very moment.

The recipes seem so simple and magical and get you thinking, "Maybe I can make that five-cheese bacon lasagna tonight." And before you know it, you're at the store loading up on Colby-Monterey Jack (or is that just me?).

For some families, though, the ingredients and final product look a little different. As part of Hunger Action Month, the hunger-relief organization Feeding America is using our obsession with cooking videos to highlight the reality many food-insecure families face when they sit down for dinner: hunger, and no food in sight.

By putting a twist on the bite-sized food videos all over the internet, they hope to raise awareness that hunger is an unacceptable reality for too many families.


Empty Plates | Hunger Action Month www.youtube.com

Currently, one in nine people in the United States — in our schools, communities, and in every county across the country — struggle with hunger.

"As a mom I want to be able to give my children the things that they need. One of the primary responsibilities as a mom is to feed her kids and that is hard on a budget. The things that are less expensive are the things that aren't healthy. I want to be able to buy the produce and the dairy that is fresh and healthy. I want them to have the energy that they need to run around and play," Brittany, a mother of two from Salt Lake City, Utah, told Feeding America.

There are 37 million other Americans who know that feeling well. "When we say that we're home owners, people think that we have it made, that we don't struggle with money, but we do," Brittany said.

"Bills are really tight. We still have to make those choices and live on a budget. I use coupons, I babysit for the neighbors during the day and I work at night. My husband has a college degree, and yet our income is still in the poverty level."

Kids have the most to lose with an empty plate. Research shows an average food-insecure family of four may need 36 additional meals a month simply because they don't have money to buy enough food. That can be detrimental to the physical and emotional development of a child.

When kids don't have energy, they can't concentrate, learn, or grow. How are they supposed to chase their dreams and become productive members of society under those circumstances?

The good news is that hunger is a problem that can be solved — if we work together to do it. That's why Feeding America is seeking 40,000 actions from the public this September to help end hunger, one helping at a time.

There are simple ways to act: becoming involved with a local food bank, checking out these anti-food waste apps, and putting pressure on elected officials.

Brittany said things were really tight when she found out about the Utah Food Bank that brought food to her neighborhood. "I was really excited and humbled that someone was willing to donate all that," she said.

Life is full of unexpected moments but having enough food should always be a constant. It's hard to get much done when you're hungry, which is why reducing hunger helps kids grow and strengthens our communities. Not to mention it makes those online food videos that much more appetizing when more people can enjoy them.

"I couldn't possibly tell you the difference it has made in our lives. That I have felt like a better mother, that I have been able to provide more for my children. The money that we were able to save on our groceries has helped us to get back on our feet," Brittany said.


Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Images via YouTube and Takahiro Kyono

Adam Barrett covers 'God Only Knows' co-written by Brian Wilson

Adam Barrett has been steadily building a fan base on YouTube with his acoustic guitar covers of iconic songs from musicians and bands like The Beatles, The Cure and Oasis.

Last year, Barrett uploaded a cover of The Beach Boys song "God Only Knows," from their iconic Pet Sounds album. It's a song so good that Paul McCartney once called it the "greatest song ever written" and has repeatedly praised it over the years, including in 2007 when he performed the song live with Wilson.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."