Last week, in the midst of the earthquake and tsunami disasters in Japan, I had the privilege of paying tribute to the top fundraisers for the Second Harvest Food Bank at its annual Awards gala. While these two events seem far removed and unrelated, they both served as sober reminders that even in the most sophisticated and developed countries, we can easily perish without the very basic necessities of food and shelter. Whether through natural disaster or economic downturn, hunger is a daily issue.
Experts estimate that 1 in 4 Bay Area residents are food insecure. That’s higher than the national average of 1 in 6 because of the high unemployment rate and cost of living in our area. Second Harvest feeds 1 out of 10 Santa Clara and San Mateo County residents from every ZIP code, roughly a quarter of a million people a month.
For those of you who have heard my story through SHFB, you already know that as a child I worked in the school cafeteria in exchange for breakfast and lunch. So the irony was not lost on me when the first award was presented to the two girls in the picture below for Outstanding Youth Achievement. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the audience as we learned about the passion, courage and creativity that drove these two sisters to raise for $1300 for Second Harvest Food Bank. What a humbling experience for me and the other adults in the auditorium.
Youth award proves that there’s no age restriction on caring.
There were a host of Bay Area companies, individuals and non-profit organizations that received awards that evening. Our combined efforts and those of all the other contributors raised $11.1 million and 1.6 million pounds of food during the holiday fund drive. And a special thank you to my fellow Brocadians whose donations rose by 73%.
Mike Klayko receives the Leadership Cup Award from Tami Cardenas of SHFB
As we wrapped up the evening, we were reminded that summer is a difficult time for some families whose children normally receive meals at school. I hope you will join me in the Share Your Lunch campaign, which begins in May and runs through the end of the summer and again for the 2011 Holiday Fund Drive coming up in the fall.
We live in the Innovation Capital of the world. If we can connect nearly 2 billion people to the Internet, connect more than 4 billion mobile devices, we can also eradicate hunger for 900 million people.
Why shouldn’t the same valley that brought the world the PC and the Internet be the same valley that offers the world a solution to hunger? Let’s start in our own backyard and market this hunger solution the same way we market our products so that food is not an unaffordable luxury for anyone.