Why I Work to Feed Hungry Children in America, Plus an All-American Meatloaf

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I spent most of my week in Washington, D.C., and North Carolina, supporting No Kid Hungry’s efforts to feed our nation’s children. I attended the No Kid Hungry Summit alongside thought leaders, corporations, foundation heads and some of the best chefs nationwide. I joined forces with many of them to spend a day on Capitol Hill, meeting with our legislators, and I hosted two Taste of the Nation events in D.C. and Charlotte. Phew! As I type, I’m sipping a strong cup of coffee (after a 3 a.m. wake-up call!), sitting on a plane headed home to San Diego.

Why would I spend nearly a week away from my family and take that kind of time off from my "regular" work?

My career is firmly centered in helping families create affordable and healthy meals, not because that’s marketable (although it is), but because families eating truly matters to me. On a personal level, I am a mom of four daughters, and nourishing them, with both my food and my parenting, is one of the most-important things I do. My kids matter to me, and I know deep in my soul that everyone’s children matter just as much. If hunger is happening to someone else's children, then I feel it in my own heart. I am a citizen of one of the world's wealthiest nations, and if there are children going to bed hungry tonight, then those kids are my kids too

I left my family behind this week because I myself received free lunch as a child. I know what it is like to be hungry in a classroom, and I know what it's like to have someone care enough to notice and find a way to fill my stomach with a warm, nutritious meal — fuel that enabled me to focus, become a high-performing student with a bright future in college, and go on to graduate school and then two great careers.

It takes a lot to get me on a plane to leave my family. But as long as I work in the food industry, as long as I am a mom and as long as I live in this great country of ours, then I will work to connect kids with food. As No Kid Hungry's co-founder Billy Shore often says, politics can be complicated, but feeding a child isn't.

When I think back to my own childhood, one of my favorite dishes was a simple American staple: meatloaf. So today I'm sharing with you my updated version of my childhood comfort-food fave: Meatloaf with Mustard and Sour Cream Gravy.

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