Connect Blog

This article was originally written by Ilene Angel and published by the Huffington Post. To see photos from the event click here and to read the official 2017 WhyHunger Chapin Awards press release click here.

Tuesday night, WhyHunger hosted its annual Chapin Awards dinner at the Edison Ballroom in New York City.

This year’s honorees included Jon Batiste, musical director and bandleader for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, as well as WhyHunger’s grassroots partner, Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger.

Founded in 1975 by the late singer/songwriter Harry Chapin and his friend, radio DJ Bill Ayres, WhyHunger, now in its 42nd year, was created to end hunger by addressing the root causes of social injustice and poverty that perpetuate it and by creating community access to affordable, nutritious food.

Never has there been a time since the organization’s inception, when there was more need for that than now - a sentiment that was both palpable in the crowded ballroom and also noted by Pete Dominick, the talented and funny host for the evening.

The first award recipient, Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger, provided a staggering 3 million meals to New Yorkers last year alone. And its awe-inspiring founder, Dr. Melony Samuels, described how the grass roots organization went from a traditional food pantry to that, plus a mobile pantry, plus two urban farms, feeding 30,000 low income people each month.

Had there not been accompanying video, I myself would have been hard pressed to believe a thriving farm in the middle of such an urban setting. It was an inspiring testament to what is possible when committed people join together for the greater good of each other.

Jon Batiste, this year’s ASCAP Harry Chapin Award recipient, brought his band, Stay Human, with him and was introduced and joined by The Roots Questlove.

In his moving speech that preceded the music, Batiste said, “Music at its highest is of service.”

And Batiste means what he says, because earlier in the evening, he decided on the spot to auction off a private piano lesson to the highest bidder to raise money for the organization.

Then Batiste and his band, Stay Human, proceeded to “serve us” their beautiful blend of spirited song and instrumental music, venturing out into the ballroom and engaging everyone in song and dance.

The evening was capped off by the tradition of closing with members of the Chapin family and the award recipients leading everyone in attendance in a singalong of the late Harry Chapin’s “Circle” song.

As everyone departed in good spirits, it seemed to me that for all the challenges that this new America we are living in present to us, it also presents us with the opportunity to make a differences in unprecedented ways, as these award recipients did.

This unique time we are living in provides us with an opportunity to be part of the solution, to, once and for all change things systemically, and to be in community with one another while doing so.

New Food Justice Voices issue out now! Our Food Justice Voices series is intended to amplify the voices and experiences of grassroots leaders that aren’t heard enough, while creating awareness and educating readers on various issues connected to hunger and poverty. In Pathology of Displacement: The Intersection of Food Justice and Culture, storyteller, healing practitioner and food justice organizer Shane Bernardo tells his story about how displacement has affected his ancestors and family within the Philippine diaspora, and how he is working to reclaim ancestral subsistence practices that connect him to land, food and his roots. In this piece Shane...
Stories of WhyHunger ally the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO), and fishing communities in Sri Lanka. This is the 3rd in a 3-part series of articles on NAFSO and the communities whose rights it defends. Read Part 1 and Part 2. Part 3: Why WhyHunger Supports Communities Struggling for Food Sovereignty A few years ago, tens of thousands of Sri Lankan fishermen and their families took to city streets across the four corners of Sri Lanka to protest the Sri Lankan government’s decision to cut a vital fuel subsidy for small-scale fishers, and, more importantly, to remember a fisher leader killed by...
While politicians recklessly propose cuts to destroy many of the basic living standards that help working and middle class families get ahead when times are tough or wages aren’t enough, anxiety rises for the already struggling families questioning their safety across the country. Now that summer is here and school is out, for millions of families, the stress multiplies. Summertime means hunger time for the over 21 million children in the U.S. who rely on free and reduced priced school meals during the rest of the year. Every child needs healthy, daily meals to continue learning and growing over the...

Mr. Tanner Q & A

HALEY KAYE , MAY 31, 2017 tagged as harry chapin children fundraising
Last month, Ripple Grove Press released their latest children’s book, Mr. Tanner, an illustrative adaption of Harry Chapin’s iconic 1973 song, “Mr. Tanner”, with a portion of proceeds benefitting WhyHunger. Harry Chapin was originally inspired to write the song after seeing a mediocre review of a baritone singer in the New York Times in the early 1970’s. The children’s story further draws on this inspiration, depicting a story of a dry cleaning bear, Mr. Tanner, from Dayton, Ohio, who dreams of changing his career to become a professional singer. Every day, Mr. Tanner greets customers by singing in his baritone...
The White House announced today that the President’s new budget calls for roughly $2.9 trillion in cuts to essential anti-poverty and nutrition programs over the next 10 years that will directly affect the ability of millions of struggling families, low-income workers, children, elderly and disabled Americans to meet their basic...

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When Patrice Chamberlain met with local police chiefs to explain why they should care about summer meals, she steadied herself for a “big sell.” To her surprise, their immediate response was, “How can we help?” It’s one of the many unlikely partnerships that Chamberlain initiated to help more kids get...

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World Fair Trade Day: Why It's Important

CATAYDRA BROWN , MAY 11, 2017 tagged as fair trade agriculture
In honor of World Fair Trade Day, we spoke to Erika Inwald, the National Coordinator of the Domestic Fair Trade Association (DFTA). DFTA works to build relationships based on principles of fairness amongst farmers and farmworkers in the United States and Canada’s sustainable agriculture movement. Below, we have included information...

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For Mother's Day we want to highlight women who are fighting for food sovereignty to protect their families' human rights and provide their children with the nutritious food they need. Below is an excerpt from WhyHunger's "Through Her Eyes: The Struggle for Food Sovereignty" publication which features dialogue between Yesica Ramirez...

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I had the pleasure of speaking with Imelda Plascencia, the consulting Health Policy Outreach Manager at Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC) for the second issue of WhyHunger’s 2017 Nourishing Change Newsletter. The newsletter is broadly framed around sharing information and resources to enrich our conversations and efforts to...

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