This Halloween you will likely see a TV ad for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, one of the most popular and yummy candies. But when you see it, think of another peanut product instead. This one is called Plumpy’Nut.
Like the Reese’s Peanut Butter cup, it comes in a small wrapping. Some have said that Plumpy’Nut tastes a bit like a Reese’s cup. But what Plumpy’Nut does is a miracle, it saves the lives of starving children worldwide.
When Halloween came around in 1960 John F. Kennedy, while campaigning for president, came across a unique trick or treat event. This ghoulish party was not about collecting candy but instead raising money for the UN agency fighting child hunger and disease-UNICEF.
JFK loved it! Kennedy remarked at a shopping plaza in Willow Grove where the UNICEF party took place, “I think that is in the best tradition of this country’s humane and sympathetic effort.” Kennedy continued speaking about fighting hunger and disease in his short speech.
In fact, when JFK became president he even issued a statement from the White House in support of Halloween trick or treat for UNICEF. Kennedy said “UNICEF has caught the imagination of our people–especially our nation’s children whose Halloween collections have become a symbol of concern and an expression of tangible aid.”
Halloween is here! Children will again be trick or treating for their favorite candy. It’s one of the most fun nights of the year. Far away from these ghoulish festivities is war-torn Iraq.
Children there love sweets too. Fajr is one of them. She is an Iraqi child who, along with her mother, fled the assault by ISIS on her hometown of Fallujah last year. They are among millions of displaced Iraqis who depend on the help of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) just to eat.
WFP provides Fajr and her mother with basic foods to get through these difficult times. The flour ration allows them to bake bread.
Fajr misses her sweets. She told the WFP that her favorite treat is the traditional Iraqi zlabiya, which is rings of fried batter with syrup as a topping.
When you are a displaced war victim, with little or no money, sweets are just a pleasant memory. They are happy just to get the most basic foods. As Fajr’s mother says, “I can still bake bread like I used to do back home.”
But for how long? The WFP, which depends on voluntary donations, is running out of funds for its numerous emergency operations. The wars in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and South Sudan are draining resources.
A WFP report on Iraq warns, “Unless USD 34 million is urgently secured, up to 2.2 million people are at risk of losing WFP food assistance in December.” Fajr and her mother might lose something as simple as bread, if the world does not scale up a wartime response to hunger.
During these months of festivities, from Halloween through Thanksgiving and the holidays, we need to remember the millions of hungry displaced civilians. They need food and basic supplies to survive. With that food is that glimmer of hope that peace will come soon.
According to Feeding America, Spokane county’s rate of hunger is 15.4 percent. The child hunger rate exceed 22 percent. Food assistance is needed to give families that safety net as they struggle to escape poverty.
This Halloween please remember the world’s hungry (photo courtesy USA.gov)
There is more to Halloween than you might think. Yes, it’s about monsters and ghouls, and the fear of the unseen. Do not let Halloween ‘trick” you though. Halloween is also the season of charity and feeding the hungry.
Where I live in Cincinnati is an old ghost legend at a cemetery near the Ohio River. A mysterious light would shine from this graveyard at night along with the eerie tune of a fiddler. No one dared to check it out.
A professor from the nearby College of Mount St. Joseph, Cecil Hale, did some “digging” and found out this “ghost” first appeared at the time of the Underground Railroad. This was the secret network which guided slaves to freedom in the north before the Civil War.
The strange light was likely a signal meant to guide slaves across the Ohio River. The creation of a ghost was meant to keep people away from the cemetery. This scary story was actually a cover for the most noble act of charity, giving the oppressed a light to freedom. This meant sending them to their next safe house on the Underground Railroad. The travelers on this Railroad were hungry and these stops along the route gave them food and renewed their strength to keep going.
Today, the ghosts and creatures of Halloween are huge business, with billions spent yearly on candy and costumes. The amount spent each year on Halloween could finance hunger relief missions in many countries around the world.
Since 1950, Halloween has added an extra surprise for those receiving trick or treaters. Many thousands of children have appeared at the door with a Halloween bag, not just for candy, but one to collect change for UNICEF. It all started when the Reverend Clyde Allison and his wife Mary Emma had an idea to turn Halloween into a night of charity.
Since that time more than 170 million dollars has been raised for UNICEF and its operations providing food, medicine and education to children in impoverished countries. Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF is a Halloween tradition that saves lives.
Think about this. On Halloween night you could collect donations to feed starving children in Syria, South Sudan, Mali, Afghanistan, Yemen, Democratic Republic of the Congo and other countries suffering from war.
Small children die every day because they cannot get the nutrition they need. UNICEF uses a miracle food called Plumpy’Nut to save their lives, but only if they have enough supply. Funding is often low for humanitarian aid missions because it’s not made a high enough priority.
That is where individuals can take the lead and the responsibility. There is even now chocolate and vanilla flavored bars you can purchase that lead to donations for Plumpy’Nut. The company This Bar Saves Lives makes a donation for each bar sold so Save the Children can distribute more Plumpy’Nut.
So on this Halloween night, you can make a change. You can experience the other side of Halloween, the one of charity. The College of Mount St. Joseph is hosting trick or treat events as well. Yes, there will be ghost stories, but also a canned good collection for the local Delhi Food Pantry. The school’s Campus Ministry, Student Nurses Association and the Activities Board are all pitching in to collect the donations.
It turns out this Halloween food drive is extra timely as food stamps are being reduced in the United States. The strain on food pantries is going to be enormous. The coming scare for America is going to be a further escalation of hunger in an already suffering economy.
Things are not always what they appear to be. Sometimes though you decide what something is to be. Your actions make the difference. Your ideas can give power to charity. On Halloween you can add an extra surprise to this “fright night,” making it a special event that helps the world.
Here is a video about Charity Miles for Halloween and below are some instructions on how you can use this tool to help feed the hungry. If you get through Halloween!
Here is a video and some instructions on how to use the free app Charity Miles to help raise funds for the World Food Programme, Feeding America and other charities while you walk, run or bike. (courtesy Ekaterina Oshepkova of the World Food Programme)
How do I use the app Charity Miles?
1. Download the application at charitymiles.org
2. It will ask you to connect via Facebook. Note, without a Facebook account, you will not be able to use the application. Also, your GPS must be on. (most cell phones apparently already have this on)
3. When you are ready to exercise, select the charity in which you will be exercising for. You can do so by sliding the screen until you see WFP, which is the 10th charity.
4. Select, walk, run, or bike. The application will then start & track your distance.
5. When you are finished, or want to take a break, select stop.
6. If you wish to resume, select resume. If you are finished, select finish.
7. When you are finished with your exercise, the application will prompt you to accept sponsorship. Accept Sponsorship.If you do not accept sponsorship and allow a post to your Facebook wall, no money will be donated to the charity.