Natural Foods Merchandiser

Retailers can help end cycle of poverty and hunger

Dear fellow retailers,
I am a store owner in Danbury, Conn. I have been in business for about 30 years. I have seen boom times, and I have seen challenging times. Throughout these times, I have always felt very lucky to be part of this industry. It always felt really good to be making my living by helping people get healthy. I never really thought about my position in the world. Just recently, I realized how lucky I am to have the choice to choose not to eat certain foods. I saw how lucky I am to choose not to sell certain foods. I realized that too many people on this planet do not have the choice. For too many people, starvation is their only reality. This imbalance in the equation started to weigh very heavily on my soul. Each morning, I would wake up and go to my store that I love and would feel terrible.

After much soul searching, I found my solution. If I were on the top of the global food elite, I would do something to balance the equation. I would try to be responsible for feeding the hungry in some small way. I did a lot of research, and then I remembered the Heifer Project, to which I have given personally.

The Heifer Project is an organization that believes in order to break the cycle of hunger, you must first break the cycle of poverty. Anything else is a one-shot deal and not sustainable. To do this, The Heifer Project gives environmentally appropriate farm animals, trees or bees to families in poor villages all over the world. Heifer has a program called the Ark, which, for a $5,000 donation, gives two of each type of all its animals to a family in need. The first born of each pair must then be given to another family in the village. This has a ripple effect and can bring the whole village out of the cycle of despair and poverty. I am going to start a fund-raiser in my store this spring and enlist my customers to help me "build" this Ark. I was planning on doing it this fall, but was preempted by Hurricane Katrina. No matter how long it takes or how much money I eventually raise, I will know that the equation has been balanced in some way.

I ask that all store owners, no matter how small or large, raise funds for sustainable agriculture to help break the cycle of poverty and hunger. If every store in this country raised something, our industry, on its own, would make a huge dent in the cycle of hunger. We must never lose sight of how blessed we are to have the choice of being a vegan, a vegetarian, a macrobiotic or whatever. The bottom line is that we have a choice. Each year, 6 million children under the age of 5 die from starvation. They do not have this choice. We, as an industry, must not forget our humanity or lose our vision. They are our children even though we do not give birth to them. They are the world's children, and we are part of this global community. If we all pitch in, we can undo this imbalance and really make our most important impact to date. I appeal to all of you who still hold on to your vision. We can no longer feel so blessed and turn our backs. We must do something. Join me, and let's build many Arks. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or feedback. I would love to hear from you. Together, we really can make a huge difference in the world—probably our most important one yet.

Nancy Sherr
Chamomille Natural Foods
Danbury, CT 06810

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVII/number 3/p. 32

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