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I am lucky enough to be connected to a great group of community minded people here in Nashville through our Nashville Food Bloggers group. Not only do we support each other through our kitchen successes and failures, but we oftentimes get involved great movements that support our neighbors near and far. [see : Sweet Relief 2.0 : Hurricane Sandy and StreetSmart]

Our friend and Nashville mover and shaker Jennifer Justus, a food/culture reporter for the Tennessean, recently reached out to us after she had seen a new documentary called A Place at the Table. She was so very moved by the film that she immediately reached out to a network she knew would respond. Thanks to her, we are all going to have the opportunity to see this film at the end of this month.

So, what’s this film about? First, watch the trailer:

Essentially, although our nation has a glut of food that gets tossed at the end of each business day [have you ever walked behind your local grocery store, by the dumpsters, around quitting time?] there are 16 million [one out of every five] children in our country that are going hungry. One in five.

In conjunction with hunger, our country is also setting up the next generations to live shorter and unhealthier lives than their parents due to issues stemming from childhood obesity. This is thanks to a lack of access to healthy and fresh foods for those living on federal assistance programs.

Even this federal assistance program [SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program]] is at risk for severe budget cuts.

At this point you’re probably asking yourself what this means for you, what you can do. Well, honestly? A lot. Even from your tiny apartment in your tiny town. Start here:

1. Connect with these great leading organizations here in our country that are leading the charge to end hunger once and for all :

Share Our Strength

Bread for the World

Feeding America

The Food and Research Action Center

Each of these organizations has mailing lists, calls to action, suggested next steps. Donate your time, your letter-writing abilities, your knowledge and your money, if possible. Each little action step adds up.

2. Send a letter to your local congress person. It’s easy. Visit this link, fill in your contact information, add something to the form letter if you’d like and then click send. Easy, right? I’ve done this one myself.

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3. Attend the screening of A Place at the Table in your hometown. If you live in Nashville, come join me and other Nashville Food Bloggers here:

Monday April 29, 2013 6:00 p.m. [movie begins promptly at 6:30]

Downtown Presbyterian : 154 5th Avenue North Nashville, TN 37219

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4. If you’re a Nashville resident, look into supporting and getting involved with Vanderbilt University’s Mobile Market. An entirely student/volunteer-run effort, the Mobile Market’s mission is to provide a sustainable source of healthy foods in low/no access neighborhoods. This program not only meets an immediate need for community members but also educates a new generation [college students] in various community development techniques that the graduating students will continue to use and employ in their post-college careers.

5. Play around in the kitchen. When you go grocery shopping next, keep in mind what types of food are eligible to be covered by the SNAP program and make one of these recipes that some of my Nashville food blogger pals have shared with us today:

La Aguacate : Sweet Potato Black Bean Tacos

Erin’s Food Files : Red Lentil Curry Soup

An Organic Process : Tomatoes and Cannellini Beans Over Brown Rice

Vivek’s Epicurean Adventures : Basmati Rice Salad

Life a la Mode : Ground Beef and Green Bean Stir Fry

Eat . Drink . Smile : Turkey Sausage and Spinach Ragù on Parmesan Polenta

A Nasty Bite : Collard Greens and White Beans

– check out Lesley Eats who has linked several of her budget friendly and healthy recipes, as well as some tips on how to shop fresh and healthy on a budget.

I’ll be updating this page as we find out more information about the upcoming screening and other action opportunities locally. Make sure to check in, especially if you’re planning on attending the screening later this month. I’d also love to know how you’re planning on getting involved in the fight to end hunger, so please leave a comment on this post!

xo,

@

[a quick update from my twice-weekly visit to the Nashville Humane Association, which usually happens on Monday and/or Friday]

MORGAN

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(c) Nashville Humane Association/Mike Noble Photography

Morgan is a  sweetheart. A 1 1/2-ish year old Australian Shepherd/Hound mix. She’s warmed up incredibly since being the nervous little pup she was upon arrival at NHA. When outside she’s always eager to greet all the other pups on their walks in the NHA yard. Beautiful coat, sweet pink + black nose.

BO

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(c) Nashville Humane Association/Mike Noble Photography

Bo! When he sees you and starts wriggling his behind and smiling his happy pup, tongue-hanging out smile, you can’t help but smile back and shout his name. A lab mix to a T, he is full of energy like a 2 year old dog should be, but loves to get his snuggles and belly rubs just the same.

ALPHA

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(c) Nashville Humane Association/Mike Noble Photography

Alpha is truly a dog looking for an adventure. The 8 month [puppy!] Pyrenees/Coonhound mix is a galumphing ball of fur + tongue that’s guaranteed to make you smile. Lovely tan, black + white markings and soft floppy ears, Alpha is a sweetie pie.

SANTA

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(c) Nashville Humane Association/Mike Noble Photography

A dog rescued by Nashville Humane Association through Operation Broken Chain, Santa has already settled into the sweet pup he’s always meant to be in spite of what his life prior to rescue must have been like. He’s filling out his previously bony body and shows no hesitation with new people – especially if you’re holding a leash in your hand, ready to take him for a walk or to play a game of fetch!

You should stop by the Nashville Humane Association! It’s such a welcoming facility where you can cuddle the cats, play with the kittens in their giant treehouse room and take the pups for walks in the beautiful wooded and green fenced in backyard. They’re open Thursday – Tuesday 10a – 5p [except for Sunday when they open at 12 noon]. 213 Oceola Avenue, behind the Sprintz furniture store on White Bridge Road.

* disclaimer – Matt Dudley [founder/owner of The Skillery] and his lovely wife + sweet kiddo are not only neighbors of ours, but dear friends. That being said, if I didn’t believe with every bone in my body in the work he + The Skillery do, I wouldn’t be sharing this upcoming event with you. Scouts honor.

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If you live in Nashville and haven’t heard about The Skillery, then you must live under a rock. Or in Spring Hill. [I kid I kid…but really. So. Far. Away!] Essentially what The Skillery does is offer a web-based venue for experts, from self-taught hobbyists to those that are professionally trained, to share their skills and experience with those of us who want to learn, or learn more. It is a wonderful way to connect local businesses, big and small, with their neighbors.

A recent glance at the calendar of upcoming classes showed those covering topics from cloth diapering and kombucha making to app building and freelance writing 101. If you don’t see a class offered that you might be interested in, you can nominate a topic. If your topic gets enough votes and a reputable teacher can be secured, your class idea will most likely become a reality!

Aside from checking The Skillery‘s website for new and upcoming classes, you should keep an eye on their content pages. They recently nabbed Nicole [from the currently inactive East Nashville, With Love website] and she’s been writing some great features on local artists, bartenders, business people, etc. Her writing makes you feel like you’ve just met a new friend. Some highlights of her features include :

–  stoke.d’s Parker Gates [geek]

– linen laid&felt’s Katie Gonzalez [grow]

– Little Chief Honeybee’s Kaelah Beauregarde [make]

– Nashville Kettlebell’s David Whitley [play]

– Holland House’s Jeremiah Blake [taste]

– author Susannah Felts [work]

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So, since I’m already getting long-winded – let me get to the point of this post! The Skillery is hosting a two day city-wide Creativity Summit next month. The first day, Saturday February 9th, will feature keynotes, panels and workshops about branding, social media engagement, design thinking and other topics. Registration includes coffee, a light breakfast and lunch [along with some sweets by me, sweet betweens!]. Sunday February 10th features a packed schedule of à la carte classes taking place all over the city. You can see the detailed schedule for both days here.

Why don’t you show some support for a great new local business, spend a day with your thinking + networking caps on and join me and many of your neighbors for a great weekend of learning? Register here – and come back or send me a tweet and let me know you’re coming! Would love to see you at the Emma offices in a few weeks!

xo,

@

* side note – I’ve been going back and forth with Matt about teaching my own sweet betweens classes focused on baking [there’s a very long text chain to prove it!]. if I did, what would you be interested in learning? cookie basics? layer cakes? DIY extracts and sugars/salts? comment below or send me a tweet and let me know!

**Giveaway closed! Congratulations to Janice, comment #2!**

I recently read a post by local blogger Beth of Eat. Drink. Smile. [read it here] featuring a great program that gives back, right here in Nashville, TN. I knew I wanted to be involved pretty much instantly once I learned that the program would be benefitting a great program called Room In The Inn.

As an undergraduate student at Peabody College I spent a lot of time volunteering and on quite a few evenings could be found at St. Augustine’s Chapel cooking up a warm meal with friends to be served to the folks benefitting from Room In The Inn’s services. Room In The Inn has been serving the homeless of Nashville for almost 30 years. If you aren’t going to be in town to participate in the StreetSmart program, I highly recommend you connect with the staff and get plugged in to volunteer in 2013. Nothing compares to the feeling of being able to make a positive difference in someone’s life. I promise.

StreetSmart + Room In The Inn

photo from Room In The Inn

Now, about StreetSmart. Essentially, all you have to do is eat out at one of the many participating Nashville restaurants and at the end of the meal, make sure to let the dining staff know you’d like to add $1.00 to your bill for StreetSmart’s program, benefiting Room In The Inn. How easy is that?!

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update: over $1,500 was raised in coordination with the Nashville Food Bloggers bake sale and Parnassus Books‘ donation as well. Thank you so much, Nashville! Amanda recapped the event beautifully for the Nashville Scene. Y’all should give it a read, here.

I’ve been sitting on this post for a few days now. I’ll come back and do a more detailed entry, but for now, get this on your calendar. Saturday November 10th, 1-4 pm at The Well [2035 Richard Jones Road] there will be a bake sale to raise funds for The Community Food Bank of New Jersey.

sunset . Ocean City 2012

This fundraising effort is quite personal for me as I spent many a summer on the Jersey Shore. Though the answer to “Where’s home?” is rather complicated, for 5 years in the 80’s it was West Windsor, NJ and since 2000 my family has been based in Plainsboro, NJ.

Ocean City Boardwalk at night . 2012

I drove from Nashville to Plainsboro last week after my mom [who cares for my elderly grandmother and my sister with special needs] spent a few days without power and was just a few minutes away from losing all phone contact [thanks to all wireless phones in the house + 1 cell phone]. Even in inland central New Jersey the destruction Sandy left in her wake was rampant. Downed power lines, tree + home shrapnel scattered in the streets and gas lines for hours. People to this day, over a week after Hurrice Sandy’s landfall, are still without power. I can’t even imagine waking up and having to remind oneself that you no longer have a home.

So please, consider baking up some goodies – your favorite cookies, or even slice + bakes from the tube. Any donation will be warmly welcomed. Details below :

While we’re calling this a food blogger bake sale, it doesn’t mean you can’t participate if you don’t have a blog. Food bloggers, non-food bloggers, and food blog fans are more than welcome to participate! We’re looking for helpers and bakers regardless of blogging status. Be creative! Some ideas for what you could bring include cookies, sandwich cookies, cupcakes, brownies, rice krispie treats, cake pops, whoopie pies, homemade candy, cinnamon rolls, quick breads, muffins, pretzels, etc. If you do plan to bake, here are a few requests:

  • All baked goods should be dropped of between 12:15 and 12:45 on Saturday.
  • If you cannot drop your baked goods off at the specified time, please get in touch. We have folks in East Nashville, West Nashville, and Germantown who are willing to collect baked goods ahead of time.
  • Everything will be priced at $2, please bake accordingly. You may decide to, for example, package 2-3 small cookies together in a bag or cut your brownies to a specific size you feel warrants a $2 price tag.
  • Please package your baked goods to make it easy for folks to purchase and take it with them. The packaging doesn’t have to be fancy, but loose cookies or messy cake slices floating around can be problematic. Treat bags, cello wrap, or gift boxes are great options. It doesn’t need to be fancy, just functional.
  • Feel free to label your baked goods so people know what they are, we’ll also have little signs the day of so that everything is clearly labeled.
  • Feel free also to bring your blog business cards or package them with your treats. Even better if you feel like sharing the recipe on your blog!

xo,

alexandra