Last month, a surprising but pleasingly large crowd of about 400 people gathered in the Eichholtz showroom in High Point to learn more about a proposed new charitable initiative called Home vs Hunger.
Unfortunately, hunger is not a new problem, but it is a persistent one, grown worse and laid bare by the pandemic, war and other factors. According to the USDA, more than 34 million people, including 9 million children, in the United States are food insecure. Hunger affects people from all walks of life, Feeding America notes, and “millions of people in America are just one job loss, missed paycheck or medical emergency away from hunger.”
Home vs Hunger, which is an offshoot of Gift for Life, is hoping the home accents community will rally around this cause. It has partnered with World Central Kitchen, a 501(C)(3) organization founded in 2010 by chef José Andrés that goes to the frontlines of humanitarian, climate and community crises and prepares meals for people in need.
World Central Kitchen arrived in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, helped asylum seekers in Texas and went to a destroyed Kentucky town after a series of tornadoes ripped through. The organization fed tens of millions of people during the COVID-19 pandemic and is currently in Poland feeding Ukrainian refugees and in Florida following Hurricane Ian.
As explained on the company’s website, World Central Kitchen doesn’t deliver raw ingredients and expect people to fend for themselves, nor does it simply send free food into a disaster zone. Instead, it offers a comforting meal, and sources and hires locally when possible, to jumpstart the local economy.
World Central Kitchen received a four-star rating on Charity Navigator. One hundred percent of the money Home V Hunger raises goes to the organization.
Russ Jones of the gift rep agency Ivystone sits on the board of Gift for Life, which after many years of supporting AIDS awareness expanded its outreach to address hunger because it felt like a basic need to be met. “Food shouldn’t be a luxury,” Jones told me.
Jones and fellow board member Doug Self of JDouglas, who are both also on the board of ART, were tasked with bringing this message to the wider home industry. They quickly found allies in Arteriors, Currey & Company, Eichholtz and others, and have the personal support of Sharon Davis, the executive director of ART.
At the cocktail party in High Point, Eichholtz CEO Michiel Herkemij pledged a $10,000 donation. Other companies followed suit and the effort has raised $17,000 in total so far. There are already enthusiastic discussions about future fundraisers in High Point and at the regional markets that most of the accessories business attends.
There are other worthy causes that the established furniture industry rightly focuses on, but Home vs Hunger is an effort that the home accents community can own and to which it can dedicate its generous heart. As we give thanks this month, let us also give thought to how we can help. To donate: https://donate.wck.org/HomeVsHunger.