The holidays are a special time of year for most Americans, and they are special for me as well, because it was a stranger’s holiday generosity that changed my life.
I grew up in a family that today we call "food insecure"—there were days with no meals. One Thanksgiving, when I was 11 years old, we had no money for food. A stranger delivered a Thanksgiving meal to our home, and that act changed me forever. It was more than food – it made me believe that strangers care and set off a ripple effect. I promised myself that someday, I would do well enough to take care of others and provide the same gifts to people in need.
When I was 17, I asked my local church for the names of two families in need. I had saved enough money from my janitorial job to buy groceries and deliver them anonymously on Thanksgiving. It was so enormously fulfilling that I wanted to double it each year. Within a few years, I was feeding a couple hundred people. Then I got people involved in my early stage companies – my employees, my friends. As my career grew, so did my ability to provide. Quickly, it grew to one million people, then two million. Over the course of my lifetime, since I was 17, I have fed 42 million people.
But there are still millions of families who still need help. It’s a tragedy that in the U.S., 48 million people, including nearly 16 million children, may go to bed unsure if they will have a meal tomorrow. So, last year, my wife and I decided to feed more people in one year than I had in my entire life. We partnered with Feeding America, an organization that reaches every single community in the U.S., to launch the 100 Million Meals Challenge.
On Giving Tuesday (Dec. 1), I am asking my fellow Americans to help provide 100 million meals to families in need by the end of the year. I’ve upped my gift from 50 million to 57 million meals, but we need your help to match that donation and make it to 100…and maybe even beyond.
All it took to change my life was one meal – one simple meal – from a kind stranger on a Thanksgiving Day. Help us bring joy to a family’s holiday this year – joy that will surely resonate for holidays to come. Join us in this mission. Click here to donate now, every dollar will be matched to double your impact. Together, we can create a deeper, lasting impact in the lives of families in need. Together, we can solve hunger.