I had the pleasure of interviewing James Young, host of 8 seasons of DIY Network’s I Hate My Kitchen. James is partnering with Walmart to Makeover 75 local Food Pantries Nationwide for the Holidays. They will award $1.5 million in grants across 75 local food pantries from Dec. 2nd to Dec. 12th. Today, 49 million Americans including more than 12 million children struggle with hunger at some point during the year. Did you read that? More than 12 million children will struggle with hunger. As a Mother of two this breaks my heart even more. I’m so thankful that I’m able to provide for my babies but many people aren’t in a position to do the same.
This is what James had to say about his new project…
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about this project?
A: Walmart has put together an initiative called the Food Pantry Holiday makeover. They are giving away 1.5 million dollars to food pantries across the nation. 75 of them will get $20,000 grants. So when you think about food pantries and you think about giving you normally think about giving food. Well this is a grant, a $20,000 grant that these food pantries are going to get. It’s going to be used for things like, you give them a ton of food but if they have no place to store it then the food gets wasted, or if the food can’t be refrigerated than the food gets wasted. If it can’t be cooked it gets wasted, if the transportation isn’t there then it can’t get out to the people that really need it. So this gives an opportunity for the food pantries to take that $20,000 grant and use it how they need it. To be most efficient to help as many people as they possibly can.
Q: What made you decide to participate in this project?
A: It was staggering to find out the numbers of food insecure people that we have right here in the United States. 49 million people are food insecure in the U.S. and 16 million of those 49 million people are children. So anytime you think of a child leaving school knowing that they’re not going to have anything to eat when they get home. Or they’re not going to have breakfast in the morning when they leave I mean that is all the reason in the world to get involved in a project like this.
Q: Is there a way we can help out online or another way we can get involved?
A: Absolutely, we all can help out by going to www.walmart.com/holidaymakeover between December 2nd and December 12th. All you have to do is go to that website and vote for your neighborhood pantry or the pantry in your community within the U.S.. 75 food pantries will be chosen and announced on December 15th. I encourage people to tell as many people as you can to go to that link. Put that link out there if you have Facebook or on any type of social media so people are aware. They will see that 49 million people in the U.S. are food insecure so it’s going to bring that awareness along with giving people the opportunity to help out food pantries in their community.
Q: Will we be able to see any of the makeovers on the Network?
A: Yes, if you go to the website, so on the 15th it will be announced but they’ll be updates, pictures, testimonies. All of that will be right on that website HERE. Spread the word, spread the word to people to go online and vote. That is going to bring that awareness that we need. We need to get people aware that we have this type of problem going on. That is why I’m happy to be involved with Walmart on this.
Q: With the holidays coming up, do you have any tips or tricks for us how to get our kitchens ready for the holiday season?
A: I have a few tricks up my sleeve.
1. Some real easy stuff is inside your cabinet box at home you usually just see the back of your cabinet. During the holiday season take a piece of cardboard put it in the back of your cabinet and then you can put holiday paper on them. So you have holiday paper when you open it up and you’ve got that festive look with all the different colors in there. It’s easy to put in and easy to take out, all you do it just pull the cardboard out when you are done.
2. You can get a can of chalk board paint. Make a nice little rectangle on a wall. You can put Happy Holidays on it, or your favorite Eggnog recipe or you can just leave all kinds of holiday cheer notes.
3. Safety a lot of people are going to have lights, make sure your lights are rative, if it’s an outside light you don’t want it inside and vice versa. Use those surge protectors to keep everything safe. We want everyone to have a fun, happy and safe holiday season.
Food pantries across the country are in great demand during the holiday season. In order to meet the demand, food pantries will need more than just meals…
What THEY will do: The 75 winning food pantries will each receive a $20,000 grant to help them purchase items like a new kitchen, storage equipment, furniture, paint, and or other supplies that are needed to provide fresh meals and service to the local communities.
What YOU will do: CLICK HERE to vote for the pantry of your choice. Type in the state to see participating pantries. You can vote every 24 hours.
Growing up I volunteered with the Food Truck Ministry in my church. During the week we would meet up, prepare the meals, plate them and hit the streets. We rode around to the local Motels in my community of Alexandria, VA. The families would come out once we arrived and we provided them with free hot meals. Included in those families were a lot of children. I was a child at that time so I didn’t quite understand the impact.
Volunteering is very important, I want my children to grow up understanding the importance of giving back. Two years ago my son and I did food preparation as volunteers at SHARE. I encourage you to volunteer in your community.
Be safe this holiday season and don’t forget to VOTE for the pantry in your community.