A Solution to World Hunger

Sometimes I’m asked, “do you actually think there’s a solution to world hunger?”, and sometimes, it can be easy to think my goal is too lofty. Today, there are 825 million people who are living in hunger. This number is undeniably huge, and what is even more troublesome is this number is nearly 6 million more than it was at this time last year. 12% of families in our country alone have to decide daily paying the rent or buying groceries for the week.

However, today there are 124 million people fewer than in 2005. This is fantastic, but I believe there is no time to rest until this number is 0 and every belly is full.

Saturday mornings, I feed 300 families in Manchester through the New Hampshire Food Bank. I shop with them through the facility for their groceries for the week and I get to know each and every one of them. Usually however, I don’t have the opportunity to build relationships with the beneficiaries of my service, infact, it is very rare. This makes it easy to forget just how impactful every effort truly is, and sometimes it feels like the work to be done is endless. I know I will never end hunger, but I also know I will never stop trying. The biggest mistake is doing nothing simply because there is little that you can do.

At this morning’s annual Seacoast NH Crop Hunger Walk, I learned that last year, we supported 1670 food pantries and soup kitchens around the country with eight million dollars through this event and other walks like it. This is incredible, and it proves that we really ARE making a difference. It is so easy to help, but only when others begin to realize that they are the ones in charge of controlling the fate of the hunger epidemic will we see the issue finally terminate. Alone we can’t help everyone, but everyone really does have the power to help someone. There is no reason we should be turning our heads in terrible indifference to others struggling, whether it is our neighbors or strangers overseas.

No, I don’t have the solution to world hunger, but what I do have is confidence that there is one. We are doing so much now, and I applaud so many hunger fighters around the world for taking on such a cumbersome task with me. But there is so much more to be done, the proof is all around us. Everyone can help, and as soon as the dream of that happening becomes a reality, we will certainly be a lot closer to global justice.

All of the beautiful flowers and deep forests of tomorrow are hidden in the seeds of today. We can dent despair, but it is going to take a lot more than just money and recognition to fix it. I’ll never be satisfied until every person’s human right to adequate food and water to sustain and thrive is actually fulfilled. Everything adds up, and although sometimes it may seem hard to find hope for a solution for this problem, I always remind myself to judge each day by the seeds I plant, not by the harvest I reap.

Wrap up of Hunger Action Month

Looking back on the month of September gives me butterflies, because we took some serious action against hunger and honestly, I couldn’t be prouder of my community!

The Seeds of Hope food drive throughout Hampstead and Atkinson was so successful, we provided enough donations to restock St Anne’s Food Pantry and keep them stocked for quite some time to come. I must say however, it was not as simple as placing a few boxes around town. At the start of the food drive, I was a little concerned, because the need was truly so urgent and donations were flowing as fluently as I’d hoped. About halfway through however, hunger awareness day came along and thanks to all of my incredible friends from all around the country and all over the world, we created change. After I produced my video thanking and promoting all the participants of orange for hunger awareness day, it became a bit more popular than I was expecting, and began to circulate through local social media communities. Share after share, view by view, we raised real awareness of a seriously relevant issue, and the compassion of New Hampshire citizens was once again, not kept quiet.

Shortly after my video was released, Seeds of Hope was flooded with support from businesses, other organizations, and families wanting to help. My heart is just so full reminiscing on something I have always, and will always believe in; the POWER of social media and the POWER each and every one of us hold. If this month hasn’t been a testament of all Seeds of Hope stands for, then I don’t know what is.

Of course, coming out of such an empowering month I am feeling quite inspired and won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Hunger Action Month might be over, but stay tuned as Seeds of Hope season never ends, and things are REALLY picking up now!

Seeds of Hope during Hunger Action Month

Happy Monday! Today isn’t JUST Monday… today is the first day of a great week, Hunger Awareness Week! The entire month of September is about encouraging not only advocacy, but real action against a crisis that strikes every neighborhood in America…hunger and food insecurity.

My September has already been packed with initiatives to serve the cause closest to my heart. To start off, I would like to make the first public announcement that Seeds of Hope is officially running as an international 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. This was never the goal of my service efforts- in fact, it was never even a plan of mine. However this new label for my program will make shipments smoother and more efficient, which will help get things where they need to be sooner, and ultimately aid more communities around the world. This also means that we now have a designated bank account where treasury business will make accepting any greatly appreciated donations much more accessible.

My international work still isn’t enough to blind me of the need in my very own community. In celebration of Hunger Awareness Week, I have kicked off another food drive! Starting today and continuing until Friday the 20th, I ask YOUR help is restocking the shelves at my local food pantry, Hampstead’s St Anne’s. This pantry is in dire need, so it is incredibly important that we work together as a community to help out. There are currently donation boxes at Coco Early Real Estate Office, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Office, and my house, but more will be announced throughout the rest of the week, so make sure you watch my social media accounts to see how, when, and where you can contribute.

This Wednesday, September 11th, is national Hunger and Food Insecurity Awareness Day. Show your support for the millions struggling by wearing ORANGE! Send me a photo of your orange to be featured in an important upcoming Seeds of Hope initiative.

Seeds of Hope is not only about feeding people in need, but empowering the ones around them to see those needs and be brave enough to help. This month, I ask that you remember your power, and recognize the simplicity behind making a difference. Join me in helping our local food pantries, nurturing families overseas, and passing on the message that EVERYONE has wha it takes to make a difference.

Returning back to service with a Backpack Drive

I may have seemed MIA while I have been away at Phillips Exeter this summer,but I assure you my hard work and dedication for the community never took a rest. In between my studies, I was looking ahead and planning out my upcoming busy year as a Miss New Hampshire’s Outstanding Teen scholarship program local representative, but more importantly, a community member and leader.

Sitting in summer school could have made it easy to forget how many children and families would be struggling as the school shopping season was quickly creeping around the corner. I realized how fortunate I had always been to have the resources I need to thrive in any environment, academic or not. I needed to help those who weren’t so lucky. A family friend once stayed in New Generation Inc., a homeless shelter for pregnant women and women with children and babies, so I decided to reach out to the shelter and find out if they had any school age children who could benefit with some supplies. As soon as I came back home, I began collecting donations.

It is always so amazing to see just how easy it can be to make a difference. I love watching the community unite to help one another. I am so proud to say we gathered far more than requested by New Generation Inc. I truly thank each and every person who donated because alone I cannot change the world, but together we can make it a whole lot better.

People inspire People

Something I speak about quite frequently is the Butterfly Effect. When I was just starting Seeds of Hope, I found myself referring back to the ideal that every action, no matter how tiny, does indeed make a difference… even if it is hard to see. When tackling an issue as broad and truly severe as that of hunger, and at such a young age, there have always been times when I would question if what I was doing was ever going to be ‘enough’. One of the most important things I have learned in my years of service however, is that every effort makes an impact in one way or another. Donating some cans to a local food pantry will never end hunger. But, it may inspire someone else to donate a can, and the pattern goes on to create a ripple of awareness and compassion for the less fortunate citizens in our communities. Whether it is the flap of a butterfly’s wing or the planting of a Seed of Hope, alone we cannot do much, but together we can change the world.

Through the years, I’ve learned that other than serving, some of the best ways to reignite a spark of philanthropic inspiration can be as simple as talking to like minded citizens who care about making the world a better place.

Dylan Mahalingam, Co-Founder of Lil MDG’s

On the last day of school, my English teacher told me about one of her former students whom she claims I’ve always reminded her of. When she explained to me that he was ‘changing the world’, I was instantly flattered and of course excited to learn more. I asked her to connect us, and I am glad she did. After talking to Dylan, I have lots of new ideas for the bright future of Seeds of Hope.

When Dylan was just nine years old, he started a non-profit organization called Lil’ MDG’s. Similar to Seeds of Hope, This is also an international development and youth empowerment program, and his work with it really did improve our society. MDG stands for Millennium Development Goals, which were goals created by the United Nations to make the world a better place. The purpose of Lil’ MDGs is to not only raise awareness of these goals, but to utilize the power of our youth to play a driving force in the path to achieving these goals.

The goals were lofty, and set to be attained in the short period from 2000-2015. Although they weren’t all reached, very large strides were definitely made towards reaching them and the impact is visible. There were eight MDG’s, and they included:

  • to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger;
  • to achieve universal primary education;
  • to promote gender equality and empower women;
  • to reduce child mortality;
  • to improve maternal health;
  • to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases;
  • to ensure environmental sustainability; and
  • to develop a global partnership for development.

Dylan and the Lil’ MDG’s accomplished some pretty incredible things that brought us a lot closer to reaching the United Nation’s goals. Just to name a few, they raised $780,000 for tsunami relief and over 10 million for Gulf Coast hurricane relief, as well as funds to build a dormitory for a school in Tibet; a computer center, library, and a mobile hospital in India; school supplies for students; and a playground for a school serving AIDS orphans in Uganda.

I also was able to discuss things with Dylan like the public’s view on helping solve global and even local issues. He brought up a few points that really stuck out to me. One of the goals of Lil’ MDG’s was to educate people on the steps they can take to make a difference in the world and in their own communities. He explained to me that many people don’t know about the issues surrounding them, and those who do, often don’t know how they can help.

It was truly an honor to speak with such a determined, selfless leader like Dylan. Seeds of Hope is about not only feasibly ending the global hunger crisis, but also about empowering people of all ages to utilize their power for good… because just like a butterfly flapping it’s wings, each tiny effort adds up. This time around, I was the one being empowered and I cannot wait to see what this new palate of ideas Dylan shared with me can do for Seeds of Hope and for all of its beneficiaries.

Planting in Pakistan

The girls of the Abba Orphanage Home for Girls in Lahore, Pakistan are busy planting their seeds! These photos light up my day every time I see them. There is no greater feeling than that of knowing the initiative I started is impacting young girls in need 7,000 miles away. See my post, Seeds of Hope In Pakistan. To read what the seeds are all about!


Partying with a Purpose

Last night, I attended the Taste of the Nation event put on by the No Kid Hungry organization. Calling it a huge success is an understatement! All of the Seacoast’s greatest restaurants and breweries filled the thousands of vendor booths, the auction tables were lined with once in a lifetime vacation packages and priceless novelties, and the dance floor was quickly packed with community members eager to help us end food insecurity on the New Hampshire Seacoast! Volunteers and attendees alike had a great night and we definitely made a big impact in the fight against hunger.

Grow Where You Are Planted

Since I embarked on this amazing journey of service, I have seen things and places that I never knew existed, met people I never thought I’d meet, and experienced countless life changing moments that I take with me wherever I go. Last year, around this time, I was preparing to spread my wings and venture on to high school. Before I could do that, I first had to complete middle school. At the middle school graduation, I had the honor of saying the final speech, and I decided to use it to ask all of my peers and everyone in the audience to leave a mark on the world but always remember their roots. Nearly a year later, I return to the very same gymnasium but this time, not as a student. I attended on behalf of Seeds of Hope, to accept the check the graduates were donating for their class gift. Last year, when I was the one making the tough decision of where to give the proceeds from our many fundraisers, I never imagined I would one day be on the other side. I am more grateful for the growth I’ve experienced through Seeds of Hope than there could possibly be words to describe. Recognition is the very last thing I do this all for, but to know that I am inspiring other young people to give back to their community is one of the most rewarding feelings. Not too long ago I sat exactly where they do, and if my story planted a single seed into the mind of just one of those students, then my mission is accomplished.

NH State Reps supporting Seeds of Hope!!

Seeds of Hope in Pakistan

Dreams are the seeds of change. Nothing ever grows without a seed, just like nothing ever changes without a dream.

I am so overcome with joy as I await word that my most recent shipment of seeds has reached its destination, Pakistan! These seeds will provide a sustainable source of nutrition to the girls at Abba Orphanage Home for Girls. Seeds of Hope however, is about more than just ensuring these girls can go to bed with a full tummy. Its about inspiring them. My wish, is that every time these young girls see a seed sprouting from the ground, it reminds them of themselves. I hope to empower everyone at the orphanage to know that before a seed becomes a plant, its shell cracks, it hides in the darkness of the dirt, and finds the strength to finally reach the light. I believe these girls are the seeds of today and the flowers of tomorrow and my mission is not only to provide them the nutrients they need to blossom to their fullest selves, but to provide them with the hope that they too can change the world.

Walk Against Hunger

This weekend, I led my team in my 10th Hunger Walk! It’s hard to believe it has already been ten times. I always love walking for hunger, because it includes so many of my favorite things. Being outside, spending time with my friends and family, and of course, taking steps toward a solution to the hunger epidemic facing our country. Thank you so much to my team for always supporting me, and thank you to all the other teams who helped to make the event another success! Together, we are coming closer and closer to ending hunger!