Food Insecurity, Hunger, make a difference, Reflections

Who am I on this Hunger Awareness journey?

Each of our journeys with hunger is unique. What brought us to passionately want to eradicate hunger is equally so. For me, in the autumn of 2009, I was finding my land legs in my new home at Wichita State University. I joined the faculty here in August 2007 as a professor in the Elliott School of Communication, and the Kansas Health Foundation Distinguished Chair in Strategic Communication. After more than 20 years in Nevada, I had forgotten that it takes a while to acclimate to a new place, but after 1 ½ years, I was feeling pretty settled. My daughter was doing well in school. I was learning the university. It was time to look outside our personal journeys and find something that would feed our souls, something that would allow us to make a positive difference.

The door that opened that autumn was to Numana, Inc.  and I have been committed to this organization ever since.  A colleague asked me to review some early press releases and media articles and offer suggestions. Not being a journalist, I agreed, hesitantly, but also offered to run it by my journalism colleagues. (This is one of the benefits for a social scientist of working in an integrated school of communication. If I don’t have the skills, someone else does.) I gave my feedback on content and my colleague Eric Wilson gave his on format. I was hooked. Rick McNary, founder and CEO of Numana told a compelling story of hungry children in Nicaragua and the idea of starting a “feed children in schools program”.  Children, schools, food… I was in.

My daughter, her youth group, my son, some of my graduate students,  and I took part in the first ever Numana packaging event in El Dorado, Kansas. Almost 4000 volunteers packaged more than 285,000 meals for Haiti that weekend. It was fun, exciting, and invigorating! What was unique about Numana’s effort to “empower people to save the starving” was the hands-on nature of their events. Volunteers rolled up their sleeves, donned plastic aprons, gloves and shower caps and mixed, packaged and prepared the food for shipment to Salvation Army schools in Haiti.  At tables of 12-14 volunteers, rice, soy, freeze dried vegetables, and a 21 vitamin/mineral tablet, a diet specifically designed for the metabolism of people who are starving, were measured into 6-serving bags, vacuum sealed, packed 36 to a box, and loaded on a truck, The truck would carry the food to Norfolk, Virginia, where it would be shipped by boat to Haiti. The food was expected to arrive in 6-8 weeks. Then the earthquake hit and the situation was so much more severe. Our food was airlifted in by the U.S. 82nd Airborne as some of the first food to reach Haiti following the earthquake.

Superbowl weekend, 2010, I hosted WSU Feeds Haiti, again with my daughter and a group of amazing students. Over 3000 volunteers packaged more than 641,000 meals that weekend. I continued to go to events, to offer my support, and in the first year, more than 125,000 volunteers nationwide packaged over 21 million meals at Numana events.

People want to do things that matter, that make a difference, just as I did.

Now my focus has expanded. After the Kansas Hunger Dialogue last March, I also want to understand hunger on the local level. I wanted to know if there’s a problem here on the WSU campus. I believe there is. Again, I brought together students, this time in a Health Communication Seminar, to understand the nature and scoop of hunger and food insecurity on our campus. The response has been phenomenal. Campus-wide support and interest has simply poured in.

On our website,, you will be able to follow the journeys of each of the 8 students in our class. Our goal is to understand and to empower the change that is needed on our campus. This class is, for me, a way to teach what I practice, to use communication capacity, and skills, to empower others. Personally, it also keeps me on my journey to choose to do things that make a difference. I invite you to join us on this journey!

Ambassador Tony Hall, Food Insecurity, Hunger, Hunger strike, make a difference, enters the hunger fast to impact Congressional budget decisions

Dear Friends,

When Congress can seriously debate cutting food aid to pregnant women and children while giving tax breaks to billionaires—and the only question the media asks is whether the cuts are big enough—we have a crisis.

This week progressive faith leaders called for Americans to join an ongoing fast to protest the immoral budget cuts being debated in Washington.

I’m joining the fast along with thousands of people including the leaders of many leading progressive organizations including Will you join too? You can choose to fast for part of a day, a whole day, or until the budget gets passed. Click here to join:

I think that it’s critical that we both understand what hunger is and make our voices heard. Building corporate profits through loopholes and tax breaks while taking away desperately needed services to the most vulnerable in our nation is simply unacceptable.



Ambassador Tony Hall, Food Insecurity, Hunger, Hunger strike, make a difference, Numana Incorporated

I completed my 3 day, water-only fast – what’s next???? Read on!

Dear Friends,

I made it through my 3 day water-only fast with the help of my friend Mara who did it also. It was hard. At times I was light-headed, nauseous, unable to regulate my body temperature (I wore a long sleeved shirt & a hooded sweatshirt when Mara & I went for a walk in 80+ degree weather, then that night I was so hot I couldn’t sleep). I was grumpy & I had a headache most of the time. I was constantly thirsty even though I drank a lot of water every day & my eyes were painfully dry. I noted that my cognitive capacity slowed. It was difficult to concentrate & I was much slower than usual at number & comprehension games like Kakuro & memory games; I couldn’t concentrate to read for more than several paragraphs.

Of course my experience wasn’t like that of an actual food insecure person who doesn’t know where her next meal will come from (Those most affected by hunger in the U.S. are women & children.). I knew I could eat anytime I decided to. I also know that because I’d never really been hungry before, my experience was different than that of someone with chronic hunger. I thought about food constantly; I dreamed about food; my sense of smell was heightened. I smelled food everywhere.

Tonight we broke our fast at a lovely buffet at Picadilly followed by a movie. But in these 3 days I have learned so much. We’re not done though. We’re going to eat “normally” for several days, then we, along with my daughter & some other friends are going to eat on $4 a day (what food stamps provide). This will likely be more challenging than usual as food prices continue to rise. We invite you to join us.

Did you know that if the budget cuts pass 157,000 American children will lose nutrition support from Head Start programs? Not only will they lose support proven to help them perform better in school, they will also be at greater risk of hunger, obesity & malnutrition. I’ll write more about these issues later. None of this is ok with me. In fact, I think it’s immoral that anyone should suffer food insecurity & hunger in the U.S. (or anywhere in the world for that matter). Did you know that an estimated 50 million Americans go to bed hungry every day? This is unacceptable. We invite you to join us if you’d like as we continue to raise our awareness of hunger.

Three things Ambassador Tony Hall recommends on his hunger site:

PRAY: Commit to reflection and prayer at least once per week for the Hunger Fast and for those who will be hurt by Congress’ proposed budget cuts.

FAST: Participate in the Hunger Fast by skipping a meal every day, abstaining from solid food one day per week, or forgoing solid food altogether.
LIVE ON LESS: Stand with 2.1 billion people who survive on less that $2 per day by limiting your food consumption to $2 daily. Or take the food stamp challenge at $4 per day.

This is such an important issue for our nation. I hope you will join me.


Ambassador Tony Hall, Food Insecurity, Hunger, Hunger strike, make a difference, Numana Incorporated

Progress on my 3 day, water-only hunger fast

On March 28, 2011 Ambassador Tony Hall went on a hunger strike to draw attention to the plight of the poor in our nation. Every night 50 million Americans go to bed unsure of when they will eat next. Most of the hungry in the U.S. are women & children. Proposed Congressional funding cuts will hurt these already vulnerable Americans even more at a time when food prices are skyrocketing & expected to continue to do so.

To me this is immoral. A number of groups are joining Ambassador Hall in this protest. I’ve been on a water only fast since Thursday night to raise my own awareness of hunger. I will end this first effort Sunday night. I invite you to join me in any way you might desire.

To access some of Ambassador Hall’s ideas, you can access his site through a link in his article at Click on “Circle of Protection”. Below is also a link to a companion MoveOn effort.

I heard Ambassador Hall speak in March at the KS Hunger Dialogue. In fact, it was at this event that he announced his hunger strike. Many of you may remember that in 1993, then Ohio senator Hall fasted for 22 days as Congress considered the same type of cuts they are considering now.

I invite you to join in this effort if you wish. Just this two days has been very enlightening for me.

Deborah Ballard-Reisch

make a difference, Uncategorized

WSU – Feed Haiti info – How you can help!

WSU 1 MILLION meal food packaging event!!!!!

Come help WSU and NumanaInc feed the starving in Haiti! The response of SE Kansas to the need to get food to the people of Haiti since the earthquake has been astounding. We have packaged and airlifted over 2,000,000 meals. Come be a part of helping us make that 3,000,000. February 5-7, WSU will be staging a 1 MILLION meal food packaging event at the Hughes Metroplex.

How can you help?


PACKAGE FOOD – at and select “volunteer” at the top of the home page. Follow instructions from there.


Please assume that it will take you about ½ hour to get processed, so plan to arrive in advance of your packaging time.

If you are a member of a group (12-14 people) who would like to come and package together, sign up at Please plan to arrive ½ hour prior to your designated packaging time to get register and get prepared.  We cannot take a group to a table until ALL members are present!  Your clock to package begins when the last member of your party arrives.

2) JUST SHOW UP WHEN IT’S CONVENIENT FOR YOU – our packaging hours for this event are 8-8 Friday and Saturday (Feb. 5 & 6) 1-8 Sunday (Feb. 7)

Come to the main door of the Hughes Metroplex and our greeters will get you registered and prepared to Feed the Starving!

Please assume that it will take you about ½ hour to get processed. We will get you to a table as quickly as we can!


DONATE – at and select “donate” at the top of the home page. Follow instructions from there.

The food we are sending to Haiti costs 30 cents per meal to buy, package, ship and deliver. Numana partners with the Salvation Army and currently the U.S. Military to get food quickly to areas of need in Haiti.


You can sign up as a group or organization (10-14 people) and sponsor your own table. An average table can package between 10 & 12 boxes in an hour at a cost of $648 – $778. Your group donates the money and packages the food. You buy it, you package it, you send it!


Would your business or organization like to sponsor a table at the WSU event? Your name, banner, poster will be posted on the table you sponsor for the duration of your sponsorship time. Volunteers who package at your table will be told the food they are packaging was provided by your organization.

1 hour = $1000

½ day (6 hours) = $6000

1 day (12 hours) = $12,000

WSU event (30 hours) = $30,000


Would your corporation, business, or organization like to partner with WSU on this event?

3 levels of partnership:

Event co-sponsor: $300,000 (the cost of 1 MILLION meals)

Platinum partnership: $100,000

Gold partnership: $50,000

Silver partnership: $25,000

Bronze partnership: $10,000


The chart below shows how many people your donation will feed:

100 people: $30.00
216 people (one box of food): $65.00
1,000 people: $300.00
2,000 people: $600.00
5,000 people: $1,500.00
7,128 people (one full pallet): $2,145.00
285,120 people (one full container): $85,536.00


GREEN SHIRT VOLUNTEER – sign up for 4 hour shifts at Plan to arrive ½ hour before your shift begins for preparation, orientation and assignment. In addition to regular shifts, we need set up and tear down teams. Set up will be Thursday (Feb. 4 from 1-8 at the Hughes Metroplex.

Training for new green shirts will be Thursday (Feb. 4) from 6-8 pm at the Hughes Metroplex.

If you are a new green shirt and cannot come to the Feb. 4 training, please arrive 1 hour prior to your start time for training.

Green shirts will be asked to purchase their t-shirts for $10

There are two groups you can sign up for:

1) Product management team – tasks listed below:

Runners: supply replacement product for assigned tables
Product Prep: unload product; fill bins; remove bags to trash can; must be able to lift 50 lbs.
Product Distribution: distribute product for runners via cart; remove filled boxes from tables; must be able to lift 50 lbs.
Loaders: load boxes to pallet, shrink wrap; take to truck; load; must be able to lift 50 lbs.

2) Floor management team – tasks listed below:

Registration: greet and sign in volunteers; manage crowds
Hostess: greet volunteers; distribute aprons and hairnets; assist staging coordinator
Staging Coordinators: prioritize and manage timely rotation of volunteers; assist traffic control
Traffic Control and scheduling: maintain table scheduling and rotation; maintain green shirt schedule
Table Seating: escort groups to table; liaison between table coordinators and traffic control; give shift-ending warnings
Table Coordinators: oversee packaging table; educate volunteers in packaging procedures; communicate with floaters and runners; clean up table and surrounding area; prepare and re-stock table
Floaters: replace table coordinators for breaks; assist table coordinators


Set up: Thursday (Feb. 4)

Shift 1: 1 – 4pm

Shift 2: 4 – 8pm

Friday (Feb. 5)

Set up: 7am – 9am

Shift 1: 8am – 12pm

Shift 2: 12 – 4pm

Shift 3: 4 – 8pm

Prep shift: 7 – 9pm

Saturday (Feb. 6)

Set up: 7am – 9am

Shift 1: 8am – 12pm

Shift 2: 12 – 4pm

Shift 3: 4 – 8pm

Prep shift: 7 – 9pm

Sunday (Feb. 7)

Set up: 12 – 2pm

Shift 1: 1 – 5

Shift 2: 5 – 9pm (includes 1 hour of tear down)

Tear down crew: 8 – 10pm

make a difference

1 MILLION meals for Haiti event @ WSU 2/5-7

I, like many of you, have watched the horrors unfold as the reality of the devastation in Haiti becomes overwhelmingly apparent. If you are like me, you want to do something tangible. The three most critical needs right now are medical supplies, food and water. I am writing to offer you an opportunity to do something tangible to help people who are starving. On Friday – Sunday, February 5-7, I am coordinating a 1 MILLION meal food packaging event sponsored by WSU and the Elliott School of Communication and in collaboration with Numana Inc at WSUs Hughes Metroplex. Numana is the organization that has been hosting the food packaging events at the El Dorado Civic Center. Some of you may have even taken part in those events. (If you have, I invite you to consider being a part of my elite coordination team.) Numana partners with the Salvation Army which delivers the food to the U.S. military which airlifts it into Haiti. Some of the food we packaged last weekend in El Dorado is already on the ground and Numana was featured on both Glen Beck’s show and The Today Show. I am writing to you today to ask for your help and support. I know that many of you, like me, desire to “make a difference”. This is an opportunity to do just that.

There are a number of opportunities available to help:

1) You can donate money to purchase the food we will pack, a mix of rice, soy, dried veggies and a 21 vitamin/mineral tablet designed to meet the nutritional needs and support the immune systems of people who are starving. Donate at

2) On Thursday afternoon/evening, Feb 4, we need to unload all the food and prepare the room for the next day. That evening we will also have training for the elite coordination team so that we all have the opportunity to practice before the event begins the next day. You can sign up to help with the pre-event work, to be on the elite team, to package food, etc. at Just indicate what you would like to do and when in the comment section.

3) If you belong to a group or organization, you can reserve a full table (12-14 people) for two hours and package. IT’S SUCH A FUN AND LIGHT-HEARTED ATMOSPHERE. PEOPLE FEEL GOOD WHEN THEY ARE DOING SOMETHING THAT MATTERS. You can, of course, reserve more than one table, or work longer than 2 hours if we want to. You can sign up for whatever you want to do.

4) If you don’t have 12-14 people who can take part at the same time, no biggie, you can sign up a smaller group for a two hour period (or as long as we wish) and work together on a table

5) You can sign up yourself, or just drop in to package food. We’ll fit you in and show you how!

6) If you saw fit, you could “sponsor” a table for a period of time. The estimate is that a fast moving table can package about $1000 worth of food in one hour. You could sponsor a table for an hour or two and, if you wanted, also pack the food you sponsor.

7) Many businesses match donations or have PR divisions that are looking for community engagement opportunities. If your business matches donations or would like to become a corporate sponsor of this event, please let me know!

8) On Sunday night, we will also need a post-event team to tear down after the event.

9) If you’d like to be part of the elite coordination team, what Numana calls “green shirts” (because we wear green. That will mean a longer commitment and your willingness to play a coordinating function).

Numana has announced the largest event yet for this coming Saturday and Sunday at the KS Coliseum. In addition to the opportunity to package food like in prior events, they are also offering opportunities for people to be trained as “green team” (our elite coordination team) members. You can sign up to be trained in any area that interests you and practice at the KS Coliseum event this weekend Saturday, Jan. 23 (8am to 6pm) & Sunday, January 24 (1-7pm). If you sign up to help at the Coliseum, please make sure to put WSU team in the comment section if you’d like to help with the WSU event also. You can also sign up for the WSU event and donate to purchase food at

However you decide to be involved, know that you are providing food to people in desperate conditions. I invite you to join me in making a difference.  If you are personally unable to help, please pass this information on to others who might be interested. We estimate that we will need 3000 people to meet our goal of packaging 1 MILLION meals in 2 1/2 days!

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment on this blog.

make a difference

FOOD PACKAGING EVENT FOR HAITI – Jan. 15 & 16, 2010 El Dorado Kansas Civic Center

As many of you know on Dec. 29 & 30, I, along with my children, students, friends, my daughter’s youth group and about 1000 other Kansans took part in a food packaging event at the El Dorado Civic Center to feed hungry children in Haiti.  In under 48 hours we packaged over 285,000 meals That food is on its way but won’t reach Haiti until mid-February.  After yesterday’s devastating earthquake, that is too late!

So, Numana Inc. is sponsoring another food packaging event this weekend at the El Dorado Civic Center and the food will be airlifted to Haiti. There are two ways you can help. Both involve going to the website. There you can volunteer to help package the food, a nutritious mix of rice, soy, dried veggies and a vitamin/mineral tablet designed to meet the nutrition needs of starving people or you can donate money to buy food. Packaging times are in 2 hour shifts from noon to 10 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday.

One question that has arisen is whether or not international aid organizations have the infrastructure and capacity to meet critical needs. The Salvation Army, Numana’s partner in food delivery already has an established network, on the ground to get food to people immediately.

In times of crisis, we all want to know what we can do to help. In this case, our donations and time will directly, tangibly, and immediately impact hungry people impacted by this natural disaster. Join me in helping hungry people in Haiti!  Stay tuned for further information on this and developing events to support the people of Haiti!

make a difference

Spring cleaning? Old shoes you don’t want? Build hospice rooms!

In the midst of spring cleaning? Wondering what to do with all those old shoes you don’t wear anymore? I have the answer! DONATE THEM!  This morning I saw an article on about Faye Evans and her drive to raise $50,000 to build 8 hospice rooms and a family room at  Wichita’s Robert A. Dole Veteran’s Hospital transitional living center. Faye has been collecting shoes for recycling to support local causes for over three years.  A soft spoken, sweet sounding woman who has undergone 5 major surgeries in the last 6 months that have “slowed her down a bit,” Faye is the dynamo behind this effort. To achieve her goal, Faye needs to collect 340,000 pounds of shoes. Shoes can be dropped at the American Legion Post #410 at 101 E. 31st Street South, Wichita. For large batches of shoes, Faye will arrange for pickup. You can call her at:  316-833-8005 to arrange for a pick-up. Faye’s van can hold 1300 pounds of shoes and she pays for her own gas.  The hospice rooms will create a “homey atmosphere for families” and allow them to live with their loved ones in a comfortable environment during their final days.  I’m heading out to drop off my shoes this afternoon! Join me!

make a difference

Tom’s Shoes

Ok, my daughter and I just jumped off the cliff on this one. For her birthday this month and Mommy’s Day (for me) we decided to buy each other Tom’s shoes.  Yea, I know, supporting a reality TV star. But here’s the deal! You buy a pair of shoes from Tom’s and they give a child somewhere in the world a pair of shoes. They’ve already donated over 140,000 pairs to children in Argentina, Ethiopia and South Africa since 2006 and plan to delivery over 300,000 in 2009. SERIOUSLY! This is the real deal! Shoes range in price from $34 to $49 for “tiny toms”, $44 to $98 for women’s shoes – that’s what Alyssa and I got – women also have a boot option and $44 to $65 for men’s shoes. Alyssa and I see three side effects of a Tom’s purchases : 1) you get a pair of cool, trendy shoes, 2) you get to “make a difference” for a child somewhere who gets a pair of shoes, 3) the shoes are reasonably priced. Pick the side effect that works for you. Alyssa and I are big on #2 and #3.  Need more encouragement, watch the video on Tom’s site about shoe delivery.  We’ll let you know what we think when we get out Tom’s! In the meantime, if you’re curious, visit They even have a special Mother’s Day shoe designed by Tom’s mom! Alyssa and I are feeling pretty good about ourselves today – and that’s a nice side of a shoe purchase.


June 1 – update on Tom’s shoes.  I got my shoes a couple weeks ago and I have to say they are the MOST COMFORTABLE shoes I think I’ve ever worn. Still waiting on my daughter’s painted ones, but already know we’re going to order more.  A great cause AND comfortable shoes! You can’t beat that! Check out!

make a difference


What Is AmeriCorps? I was delighted with President Obama’s increased commitment to Americorps announced last week. Sponsored by then Senator John F. Kennedy and implemented by Congress in 1961, AmeriCorps builds on the power of citizen volunteers to make a difference across our nation to meet critical community needs. AmeriCorps members address critical needs in communities all across America. AmeriCorps members:

• Tutor and mentor disadvantaged youth

• Fight illiteracy

• Improve health services

• Build affordable housing

• Teach computer skills

• Clean parks and streams

• Manage or operate after-school programs

• Help communities respond to disasters

• Build organizational capacity

According to the AmeriCorps website –, “Each year, AmeriCorps offers 75,000 opportunities for adults of all ages and backgrounds to serve through a network of partnerships with local and national nonprofit groups. Whether your service makes a community safer, gives a child a second chance, or helps protect the environment, you’ll be getting things done through AmeriCorps!” Benefits of Service “As an AmeriCorps member, you’ll gain new skills and experiences—and you’ll also find the tremendous satisfaction that comes from helping others.

In addition, full-time members who complete their service earn a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award of $4,725 to pay for college, graduate school, or to pay back qualified student loans or some programs also pay $1200 in cash. members who serve part-time receive a partial Award. Some AmeriCorps members may also receive a modest living allowance during their term of service.”

There are a variety of AmeriCorps programs. I mention four below. Visit their website for additional information!

The state-based programs provide opportunities to work in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Americorps projects in your state (Kansas link):

Some programs are nationally based. Americorps national:

Americorps VISTA program to fight poverty in the U.S.: VISTA volunteers serve full-time for a year “at a nonprofit organization or local government agency, working to fight illiteracy, improve health services, create businesses, strengthen community groups, and much more … to bring individuals and communities out of poverty.”

Americorps National Civilian Community Corps is for young adults 18-24. The goal of NCCC is to “strengthen communities and develop leaders through direct, team-based national and community service”. NCCC volunteers work regionally with nonprofit organizations, state and local agencies, faith-based and other community organizations. Members live on one of five campuses, located in Denver, Colorado, Sacramento, California, Perry Point, Maryland, Vicksburg, MS, and Vinton, Iowa.

Follow AmeriCorps on twitter at: