Jenny Dirksen, third from left, and food bloggers at the Share Our Strength kickoff for the Great American Dine Out.
If there’s one nice thing you’re going to do for others this week, let it be this: go out to eat.
Sure, it may seem a personal indulgence, and you’ll have the benefit of all that delicious food and wine swirling in your stomach, but trust me, you’ll be lending a hand to millions.
Millions of children, that is, who will benefit from profits gathered during this week’s Great American Dine Out, an event sponsored by the hunger-combating Share Our Strength charity based in New York and Washington, D.C.
On Monday, Share Our Strength partnered with Jacob’s Creek Wines and invited a dozen food bloggers and mommy bloggers out to eat to kick off the campaign. Their idea was simple: show a group of women how fun it can be to help, how important it is to help fight childhood hunger, and how good the food is at a restaurant called Good, in NYC’s West Village.
And good it was. The restaurant’s trendy spin on homestyle favorites included a baked goat cheese and tomato cazuela–an intense, reduced tomato sauce, served warm in a terra-cotta pot with a dollop of goat cheese and country bread–a crispy flatbread pizza with creme fraiche, smoked bacon, arugula and onions, and bite-sized cheddar corn hush puppies, lightly fried and delicious.
Watermelon, feta, and cucumber salad.
Over chilled moscato from Jacob’s Creek, Share our Strength’s director, the bubbly Jenny Dirksen–a former assistant to famed NYC restaurateur Danny Meyer–gushed about the Great American Dine Out.
“Last year we were able to send food trucks into New York’s neighborhoods in the summer, bringing meals to students who normally get breakfast and lunch at school but wouldn’t go to the schools during the summer,” she said. “We ended up serving hundreds of more meals a day than we do during the school year.”
The summer food trucks are only one part of Share our Strength’s campaign to end childhood hunger by 2013. Through a number of food-themed fund raisers each year, the organization is able to teach cooking classes to families and send them home with raw ingredients, help enroll families in government food assistance programs, and support local on-the-ground hunger organizations.
The bloggers swooned over Dirksen’s down-to-earth approach to feeding hungry children–or possibly over the main courses of grilled local swordfish, roasted Bell & Evans chickens, or house-smoke pulled pork–and asked how they could help.
Grilled swordfish from Good Restaurant.
“We’ve already raised $412,000,” Dirksen said, referring to the dollar donated for each pour of Jacob’s Creek wines at participating restaurants nationwide. “So now we’re shooting for a million!”
Inspired– or something–the wine flowed and dessert courses were served. Each blogger left with a full stomach and a mission: convince someone else that dining out (and drinking out) can help put an end to childhood hunger. This week. Bon appetit.
Colleen Curry is the Jersey Bites Regional Editor for Hoboken where she’s busy trying every restaurant. She is also a hyperlocal web editor for the Asbury Park Press, exploring community news and citizen journalism in Freehold, New Jersey.