By Sarah Copeland

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received is that when it comes to choosing how and when to spend your time, if it’s not a big emphatic YES (excuse my French, but in short, if it’s not a Hell Yes!), then it’s a no, thank you. 

As a time-strapped working mother of two, I’ve fallen back on this almost daily as I’m called upon to make hard choices between the things I’m called to do (in my heart) and the things that must get done. Over the years, a lot of things have had to fall away, but one thing that consistency falls in the Hell Yes category is anything I can to make sure that food security—the access to good, healthy, nourishing food—is not a privilege for just my kids and yours, alone. Every single child needs and deserves access to nourishing meals, every single day.

In my twenties, I took on food insecurity by teaching cooking and nutrition classes in Harlem, the Bronx and my own neighborhood in Queens, helping young expectant mothers learn how to nourish themselves and soon, their children. Later, I helped create a non-for-profit program that brought school gardens to 17 underserved schools across the country. These tangible actions rewarded me every bit as much as the families I worked with.

Now, with two young children at home—it’s hard to travel across the country to build school gardens, or even across town to teach a class during our family dinner time. But FEED has created another beautiful, totally accessible way to give – and, if you really want to go for it—give big.

The concept of FEED Supper – hosting a small supper in your home to raise money to end hunger – spoke to my heart from day one. The year the program started, FEED’s founder, Lauren Bush Lauren,  reached out and asked me to get on board. Eagerly, I jumped in, along with my husband and our then tiny daughter, hosting a FEED Supper for 8 friends in our own little dining room. We served Hungarian Gulyas and fresh bread and big salads and small, handmade tarts—and raised $500, to send to children in need. It only took a couple of days of cooking and the donations of our kind guests to impact the lives of 5,000 children who each received an extra meal that month.

The next year, our supper outgrow my dining room table and moved to the back yard. Our guest list doubled, and thanks to donations of flowers from Hops Petunia, wine from Kingston Wine Shop, and dollars from our guests—and our give back doubled, too. But, each year, I couldn’t help the feeling that our give could be bigger, our asks of our community a little more audacious. And so, with the help of great partners and ever generous local businesses, this little Hudson Valley Feed Supper that could has grown and grown, year by year.

This year, I partnered with my dear friends Chris Lanier and Dana McClure, from RAVENWOOD, hosting our supper in their airy, renovated barn. Together we put on a dinner of dreams—with Chris, and our friend Frida and I cooking side by side plating for 30, on a table my husband built that we filled to the brim with oysters and flowers and cheeses and so much more. Our guests were treated, to be sure, but the great gift of this night of communion and love was sending every dollar we raised directly back to FEED.

We’re proud to report that in one night of community and feasting we raised $5,000 for American families in need.

Sometimes, when you set out to help others, you find you receive as much as you gave. If you had asked me, ten years ago, if I could put on an event that could raise 50,000 meals for children in need, I’m not sure I would have had the chutzpah to accept, but today the answer would be a big, resounding: HELL YES. And yours can be, too. All it takes is a little elbow grease, friendship and love.

We’re so thankful domino Magazine featured a story about our supper in their Spring issue (check out the online version, here), with more details about what we served, how we pulled it all together and everyone who contributed. I’m pretty confident if a couple of time-strapped mamas, plus a handful of small local businesses with big, generous hearts can make an impact of this size, you can, too. Start small, grow in love, and give.

FEED Supper is year-round (as of 2017), so start planning now to incorporate a big Hell Yes moment in your life. Sign up to host your own FEED Supper here. 

 

All images thanks to ANNA WOLF for Domino Magazine. 

SPECIAL THANKS TO THE FOLLOWING BUSINESSES FOR THEIR GENEROUS CONTRIBUTIONS:

Ravenwood
Hudson Workshop
Upstate Table
Oyster Party
Hops Petunia
Kingston Wine Company
LAIL Design
Kingston Bread Lab
Silk and Willows
Hawthorne Valley Farm
Metal House Cider

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ABOUT SARAH COPELAND

Sarah Copeland is the award-winning author of the books Feast, The Newlywed Cookbook, and Every Day is Saturday (coming June 2019) which exemplify her standard for gorgeous photography, luscious recipes, and simple luxuries. The former Food Director at Real Simple magazine and a Food Network veteran, Sarah currently lives in the Hudson Valley with her young family, where she tries (and fails) at fruit farming and excels at hosting raucous, twinkly-light dinner parties for friends. Sarah is a long time friend of FEED and a frequent FEED Supper host. Learn more at Edibleliving.com.

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Sarah's new books:

Every Day is Saturday (coming June 2019, available for Pre-Order here)