Kudos to the Non-profit Organizations and Volunteers Who Fight the Fight… to alleviate hunger, poverty and homelessness

Earth fragile future

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

Anne Frank


I have always viewed volunteer workers and non-profit organizations – such as (but not limited to) The World Food Programme, Feeding America and Action Against Hunger/Action Contre La Faim – with deep and profound respect.

It is a difficult and thankless job.

Ahhh, but many of these dedicated men and women don’t view it as a “job”…  nor do they expect a pat on the back, let alone an actual “Thank You.”

Imagine, for a moment, what it must feel like to see hardship, hunger, poverty and sickness… day in and day out. Yet, these volunteers press on… hoping, no, praying that they are somehow making a difference, making a dent in this world epidemic that is Hunger.

Imagine what it must feel like to try to recruit people to help… to contribute their time and yes, their money, to a problem that – like it or not – affects us all.  So many people (too many) prefer to turn a blind eye.  Until it happens to them. And for those raising their eyebrow: it can happen to them. And to you. And to me.  It is never wise to be complacent. As we’ve seen with disasters like Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, it can happen in a flash.  Here today, gone tomorrow.

So today marks the last day of my 3½-week Help Fight Hunger book promotion.

To say that I am “disappointed” is a huge understatement, but it will not deter me from continuing to contribute my time and writing to helping others, to raise awareness on important issues that ultimately affect us all, and to hope that someone – anyone – will listen and perhaps even join the effort to help those who need our help.

I’d like to take a moment to thank the family members, friends, and colleagues who have been kindly “spreading the word” on behalf of my Help Fight Hunger campaign. Most importantly, I’d like to express my deep love and gratitude to my husband for putting up with all the intensity. 

I hope that I’ve provided you with some informative, thought-provoking blogs on a subject that is discomfiting, but nevertheless very current and critical. 

Thanks for reading.

― Heather


Image (t the very top) via erikarachel.com.

A Coffee Shop is Not Just a Coffee Shop


In cities across America, coffee shops have become a mecca for professionals to gather in one place and share experiences, intel, advice and networking opportunities.  Most of those guys and gals sitting at the corner table, intently working on their computer while nursing a cup of coffee for three+ hours…  are  educated people just trying to do their work or drum up some lucrative business in an economic market that has been challenging at best.  The real estate development folks refer to these coffee shops as “third places,” an extension to one’s living room.

It’s true, a coffee shop is not just a coffee shop anymore.  Many an interesting character can be seen frequenting these “offices” …   a lot of wisdom, gathered in one room.

Coffee Shop Jive

“It took him only fifteen minutes to walk to the coffee shop. It was hot and humid, but he was used to it.  The Panama hat that he wore shielded him from the sun, which was a good thing. He opened the door and was greeted by a blast of frosty air. “The staff always keeps the air conditioning on way too high,” he muttered to himself.  His favorite seat by the window was thankfully empty, so he strode over and placed his computer bag down.

Looking around, he noticed all the regulars. There were students, architects, retailers, some mellow reggae musicians, a poet and a few homeless veterans who had a lot of interesting stories to tell. Everyone usually stayed there for at least three or four hours, nursing their one cup of coffee and nibbling on a pastry. Money was still very tight for most people. The coffee shop was over-priced, but the customers enjoyed the music. The ambiance was nice.

He remarked to himself that he hadn’t seen some of his old buddies and colleagues for a long, long time.  2013 sure looked and felt a hell of a lot different from 2006.  A lifetime ago. Back then, they were all starting to feel the pinch of a tanking economy. One by one, his friends dropped out of the consulting scene. A few went bankrupt. Some divorced. Others had left the state and even the country. A few had died. There were several guys who seemed to have fallen off the face of the earth. He decided to check his LinkedIn, to see if they had made any status updates.

He fired up his computer and, after an annoying few minutes, was able to sign on to his LinkedIn.  “The Wi-Fi is really slow in this coffee shop,” he mumbled. He clicked on some of his connections and what he read made him throw his head back and laugh out loud. One of his engineering friends wrote, under “Current Job:” … “Something Entirely Different.” 

As he scrolled down, he noticed that most of them were doing something entirely different. And he was no exception. That’s the nature of the beast. When the economy tanks and stays tanked for such a long time, you either sink or swim. You hope for the best, but plan for the worst.  It’s called Plan B. The interesting thing is that sometimes “Plan B” turns out to be the best thing that ever happened to you.

He started moving his leg to the music. It was an old reggae song by Frighty & Colonel Mite.  The title, Life (Is What You Make It).”š

(PS: Seriously, this was truly the actual song that was playing!) 

Excerpt/vignette “Coffee Shop Jive” (pp. 104-105) from Casualties of the (Recession) Depression. Copyright © 2013 by Heather Joan Marinos. All Rights Reserved.

HFHFrom Aug 14-Sept 7, purchase a copy of  Casualties of the (Recession) Depression, and for every $20 book purchased directly from me, through my website, I will be donating $5 from the proceeds of each book sale to either: Feeding America (US), Action Against Hunger (Canada), or The World Food Programme (Global). The purchaser chooses one of the three. As I’ve stated before and clearly state on my website, this promotion does not apply to books purchased from third party distributors, such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Image (at very top) via visagemobile.com.

Plan B. Why we should always have one handy.

images (1)

“When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”

Of course, in reality it’s not always that simple.

When we shrug our shoulders and “let the chips fall where they may” – without any forethought or plan – we can’t really control the consequences. This is reactive thinking. And, nine out of ten times, we always regret not having planned ahead.

We are human. We make mistakes. We play the odds and miscalculate the results. Sometimes, our innate optimism clouds our thinking and we realize it only too late. And then the unimaginable suddenly becomes very imaginable, very real.

This happened to many middle-class men and women who were unprepared for such a severe and prolonged economic downturn. Jobs were downsized or eliminated. Savings dwindled. Credit card debt soared. Health insurance policies were suspended. Homes foreclosed. Food became a luxury.

In hindsight, what could we have done to prevent this from happening?

None of us expected this economic crisis to last so long, but it did.  That was out of our control.

We did, however, have control over how much we spent, how much we consumed, and whether or not we chose to live within our means. Many of us who were not proactive are now chanting “mea culpa, mea culpa.”

Let’s look at each of the problem areas:

(1) Jobs.  No job (full-time, part-time, or consultant) is secure. Even a loyal employee, working 25 years in the same company, can get a pink slip…. just like that. It’s important to keep skills honed, stay educated, and cultivate multiple optional career paths/opportunities. When we have back-up options, we are able to counteract the fallout from job loss.

(2) Savings. We must try not to succumb to the mentality of “immediate gratification.” This is a common problem in today’s society. The generation of men and women who lived through the Great Depression would probably be rolling their eyes and shaking their heads at us. We should take our cue from them and exercise a little frugality and self-discipline. Save a portion of each check and don’t touch it unless absolutely necessary. Make sound investments. “Get Rich Quick” schemes are just that: schemes. As my mother used to tell me, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

(3) Credit Cards.  Ideally, we should only use debit cards. Credit cards should be used only on the condition that we pay them off (in full) each month. If we can’t do that, we are buying trouble by digging ourselves into debt. Stay in the black, not the red.

(4) A Roof Over Our Head. Here’s the unsettling reality: if we have a mortgage, we don’t own our home.  The bank does. If we can’t pay the mortgage, the bank will take “our home” away from us. We own our home only when we’ve paid the entire loan off.  This usually tales years, even decades. The good news is that eventually, we do own our home outright… if we play our cards right. Here’s the caveat: if we choose to get a second mortgage or an equity loan because we want to add a room or renovate a kitchen, then we drive ourselves deeper into debt… making that dream of full home ownership a more distant reality.

(5) Food. Eat wisely. Don’t waste.  Be sustainable. Buy fruit trees and grow vegetables… then there will always be food – even when money is scarce. 

Remember the adage: “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.” 

If we follow this simple advice, we may not overcome all of our problems, but we will definitely be on a stronger footing.


From Aug 14-Sept 7, purchase a copy of  Casualties of the (Recession) Depression, and for every $20 book purchased directly from me, through my website, I will be donating $5 from the proceeds of each book sale to either: Feeding America (US), Action Against Hunger (Canada), or The World Food Programme (Global). The purchaser chooses one of the three. As I’ve stated before and clearly state on my website, this promotion does not apply to books purchased from third party distributors, such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

The Kindness of Strangers


“She walked briskly out of the supermarket.  The aisles of food and the smell of fresh fruit and vegetables had made her light-headed. She had spent two dollars on a dozen eggs and some bread and only had ten dollars left in her purse – in quarters.  She passed by a man who was standing near a bench by the store entrance. He was tall, thin, about thirty-something, dressed in clean jeans and a t-shirt, and was African American. He was asking people for money to buy some food. She glanced at him, mumbled “Sorry, I can’t” and continued walking.

Then, something in her sub-conscious made her stop and turn around. He was sitting on the bench, his head in his hands. She noticed something that she recognized only too well.  Despair.  She reached into her purse and counted five dollars worth of quarters (half of what she had left to last her for the next two weeks) and she walked back to the man and said “Excuse me sir, but here is five dollars in quarters. I hope this will help tide you over.”  He looked at her.  She could hear the intake of his breath.  His eyes were clear and intelligent.  He stood up and thanked her, very earnestly and with respect.  Their eyes met and he understood.  They were the same.”

― from  the vignette “The Kindness of Strangers” – pp. 52-53 of Casualties of the (Recession) Depression, by Heather Joan Marinos

(Copyright © 2013 by Heather Joan Marinos – All Rights Reserved)


From Aug 14-Sept 7, purchase a copy of  Casualties of the (Recession) Depression, and for every $20 book purchased directly from my website, I will be donating $5 from the proceeds of each book sale to either: Feeding America (US), Action Against Hunger (Canada), or The World Food Programme (Global). The purchaser chooses one of the three.

Image (of hands) via dosomething.org.

The “Golden Years” are not always so golden


Unless one’s heart is made of stone, most can agree that the reality of child hunger is a heartbreaking and very unpalatable pill to swallow. 

Human existence is cyclical. We begin life as children who depend on parents or family members for our food, our living conditions, and our sense of well-being and worth.   

As we move towards the last chapter of our lives, our health and frailty make it impossible to survive without depending on our children, family members, or community − for our food, our living conditions, and our sense of well-being and continued worth.

The golden years are supposed to be a time in life when we, who have worked so hard and who have taken care of so many, earn the right to kick back, relax and enjoy the company of loving family and friends, as they surround us with their affection and care.

Sadly, this is not everyone’s reality.  Many seniors are left to cope alone.  Many have to juggle with decisions like whether to eat or pay the utility bills, whether to eat or pay for medication, and whether to eat or pay the rent. 

As I mentioned earlier, human existence is cyclical.

Unless one’s heart is made of stone, most can agree that the reality of senior hunger is a heartbreaking and very unpalatable pill to swallow. 

I’ll leave you with some sobering statistics, cited by the folks at Feeding America.  Next week, I will be taking a virtual hunger tour around the world because, as we all know, hunger has no geographic boundaries.

According to Feeding America,

“The number of older adults is projected to increase by 36% over the next decade and continue to rise in the following decade. In 2030 there will be 72.1 million older adults, almost twice as many as in 2008. Additionally, the senior population is becoming increasingly diverse.  Between 2010 and 2030, the white population of 65 and plus is projected to increase by 59% compared with 160% of older minorities.”

“These changing demographics will have profound impacts on the demand for social services, especially the need for adequate and culturally appropriate nutrition services.  Seniors may have unique nutritional needs and challenges that separate them from the rest of the population and must be considered.”

“In 2011, 4.8 million Americans over the age of 60 were food insecure. This constitutes 8.4% of all seniors. “

“The number of food insecure seniors is projected to increase by 50% when the youngest of the Baby Boom Generation reaches age 60 in 2025.”


From Aug 14-Sept 7, purchase a copy of  Casualties of the (Recession) Depression, and for every $20 book purchased directly from my website,  I will be donating $5 from the proceeds of each book sale to either: Feeding America (US), Action Against Hunger (Canada), or The World Food Programme (Global). The purchaser chooses one of the three.

Image (at the very top) via mycarforcharity.com.

The economics of fighting hunger


“Investment in the eradication of hunger today is a good business decision. If we fail to make this investment, it is
doubtful that we can sustain healthy economic growth. Without this investment, our nation may disintegrate into a
country sharply divided between those who have enough to eat and those who do not.”
— Alan G. Hassenfeld, Chair & CEO of Hasbro, Inc.

If the humanitarian reasons for fighting hunger are not convincing enough, let me put an economic spin on it, by breaking the issue down to dollars and cents.

According to a recent Hunger in America report prepared by the Center for American Progress and Brandeis University,  “Hunger costs our nation at least $167.5 billion due to the combination of lost economic productivity per year, more expensive public education because of the rising costs of poor education outcomes, avoidable health care costs, and the cost of charity to keep families fed.”

The hunger bill directly affects every American citizen and resident.  Oh, it’s not a bill per se.   The costs are embedded in our taxes and in the contributions we pay to charities.  Our nation’s economy is heavily weighed down by the cost of hunger, spending upwards of $94 billion dollars a year, in federal food assistance programs like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as  “food stamps”).

As the middle-class progressively disappears below the poverty line, the drain on our economy worsens. 

Hunger adversely affects our bottom line. 

Yet, even big corporate executives realize that the eradication of hunger is not simply an issue of economics, but  a more fundamental problem of justice, equality, and humanity.

“America is the richest country in the world. And yet tonight, thousands of your neighbors will go to bed hungry.
It may be your child’s schoolmate who is undernourished and has difficulty learning on an empty stomach.
Or it could be a co-worker, a working mother whose low-wage job doesn’t make ends meet.
Perhaps it’s an elderly neighbor who has to make a decision whether to delay filling a prescription or buying groceries.
The faces of hunger are as broad as the faces of America.”
— David Nasby, retired vice president of General Mills  (one of the world’s largest food companies)

Image (at very top) via Emmaushouse.org.

Action Against Hunger, Action Contre La Faim


“It is an eternal obligation toward the human being not to let him suffer from hunger when one has the chance of coming to his assistance.”

Simone Weil

Please Note:

The Canadian non-profit organization, Action Against Hunger/Action Contre La Faim (Canada) has been added to the list of organizations (Feeding America and The World Food Programme) that I will be sponsoring with my book promotion.

I’ve updated this site, to include a “Humanitarian Efforts” tab.  Please click on the tab on the top menu bar, and have a look…

All the best,



Image via reachingneighbors.org.

Book Promotion “Help Fight Hunger” Launches Today

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I decided to launch a 3½-week Help Fight Hunger campaign – beginning today (August 14) and ending on Saturday, September 7, 2013, at 5:00 PM (EDT) —  For every $20 book purchased directly from my website, I will be donating $5 from the proceeds of each book sale to either Feeding America or The World Food Programme (the purchaser chooses).


All too often, we waste food — sometimes without giving a second thought to whether or not the person sitting next to us may be living in a food insecure household.  An alarming number of middle-class families are now, for the first time,  experiencing what it is like to be hungry.  Their stories will break your heart. Their stories will make you want to kneel down, bow your head and say a prayer of thanks for the food on your table, for being spared the suffering, despair, and indignity of being hungry. 

Below is a vignette from my book, Casualties of the (Recession) Depression.  This is a true story.

Young and Hungry

“He sat in the coffee shop, his fingers restlessly turning the pages of his textbook.  He had been there for three and a half hours, nursing a cup of coffee.  “Thank God for free refills!” – he thought to himself.  He was trying hard to focus on the words in front of him, willing the gurgling in his empty stomach to go away.  His hands were slightly shaky.  He could smell the toasted ham and cheese sandwich that someone was eating at a nearby table.  Freshly baked bread had just come out of the oven and the lady behind the counter was stacking the loaves on the shelf.  His mouth started to water and he felt dizzy.  He willed himself to block it all out. Two more hours passed by.

It was closing time.  The coffee shop lady was rushing to close up. She grabbed all the leftover loaves of bread (two were left), bagels (all seven of them), and two donuts – and threw them roughly into a big garbage can, which she wheeled into the back room. He swallowed, throat dry.  A tear escaped from the corner of his eye. He was too proud to ask. And the coffee shop lady didn’t see, nor would she probably have given him a second thought if she had. He clenched his jaw and grimly packed his book into his bag. 

He glanced once at the lady behind the counter. Her face was blank when she looked back at him. Oblivious.  She tapped her fingers on the glass, impatient to close the lights.

He left quietly, not looking back.  He wondered whether things would get better after he graduated from college. He wasn’t so sure.”

Casualties of the (Recession) Depression – Copyright © 2013 by Heather Joan Marinos.  All Rights Reserved.

Help Fight Hunger. 

Drop by www.heatherjoanmarinos.com.









Image (of young man) via   abcradionewsonline.com (Jupiterimages/Thinkstock).

Help Fight Hunger

“The war against hunger is truly mankind’s war of liberation. “
— John F. Kennedy

My objective for writing  Casualties of The (Recession) Depression, was to raise awareness that, despite the rhetoric we hear (that we are in a “recovery”), millions of American middle-class people continue to experience severe economic hardship and challenges.  Hunger, homelessness and joblessness are problems that are not just relegated to the chronically poor — but to a growing number of middle-class men and women, as well.  The threat of  this class extinction is very real.

In this country and in this century, it is abominable that over 50 million people live in food-insecure households (over 19 million are children). 

Well-respected non-profit organizations, such as Feeding America and (on a global level) The World Food Programme (a division of the United Nations), make it their mission to fight hunger…  one person, one household, and one community at a time.

But, they can’t do it alone.

I decided to launch a 3½-week Help Fight Hunger campaign – beginning tomorrow (August 14) at 8:00 AM (EDT) and ending on Saturday, September 7, 2013, at 5:00 PM (EDT) —  For every $20 book purchased directly from my website, I will be donating $5 from the proceeds of each book sale to either Feeding America or The World Food Programme (the purchaser chooses).

Please read the details below (click on the picture to zoom in  for a better read).

It’s a start…


Let No Child Go Hungry This Summer


When that last school bell rings in June, droves of children come blasting out of the doors, eager to begin their summer. No more multiplication tables to memorize or spelling bees to prepare for – just fun in the sun, with no worries.

However, for the children who live in “food insecure”  households (the politically correct term coined by the USDA, which essentially means “hungry” or “without food.”), summertime means losing the luxury of daily breakfasts and lunches, provided by the schools.

For these children, food is a luxury.

This doesn’t just affect a few children here and there.  


Millions of children across the United States live in homes where food is scarce. Imagine, for a moment, what it must feel like, not knowing where your next meal is coming from – or when you will be able to have a next meal. 

Thankfully, national and community-wide summer food programs have been established, to provide free meals for these children  (aged 18 and under).

Non-profit organizations like Feeding America  and Feed The Children make it their mission to ensure that no child goes hungry.

Federal initiatives, such as the USDA’s (United States Department of Agriculture) Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), have approved sites located in areas (nationwide) where there is a higher concentration of children from low-income households.  These SFSP sites  provide free meals (which meet federal nutrition guidelines) to these children.

In communities across the country, local volunteers and organizations are banding together to provide food for children who are in need of assistance.  In New Haven, Connecticut, for example, the New Haven Public School Board – in collaboration with United Way, have rolled out a new Summer Food Truck.  This mobile “meals on wheels” drives around town, offering free, nutritious meals to kids and teens.


A lot of good things happen when communities rally together.

These organizations all need volunteers, and of course, they welcome donations.  If you  wish to volunteer your time (and/or money) to the summertime food programs in your neighborhood, check out the list of sites below. I am also listing a site that provides a  Food Bank Locator, in the event that you may want to volunteer at a food bank in your town.

If you are a business owner, you may want to consider sponsoring an SFSP food site in your area.

One last word.   If your children have friends or classmates who may be hungry, why not invite them over for lunch or dinner?  Not only will you be doing a kind deed, you will be teaching your own children the value of community and compassion.

And that is a good thing.

♥ ♥ ♥

Images via cacbelmont.org (boy with apple), npr.org (truck photo credit by Timothy Cipriano/New Haven Public Schools), and   fns.usda.gov (SFSP flyer).

♥ ♥ ♥

Feeding America:  http://feedingamerica.org/how-we-fight-hunger/programs-and-services/child-hunger/summer-food-program.aspx

Feed The Children: http://www.feedthechildren.org/site/PageServer?pagename=dotorg_homepage

USDA’s Summer Food Service Program: http://www.fns.usda.gov/summer-food-service-program-sfsp

SFSP Sponsorship:  http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/Summer/Sponsor.htm

Food Bank Locator: http://feedingamerica.org/foodbank-results.aspx

National Hunger Hotline: 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE for Spanish

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