Extra Helping

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Extra Helping's Story

When you were sick as a child, what did your mother feed you? Have you ever had a neighbor or member of your community reach out in a time of need with a ready-made meal? When you hear the words “comfort food,” what images come to mind?

Food is an essential part of the human experience. More than just nourishment, it is a source of great comfort. This is what Janet Reich Elsbach and Anna Brones had in mind as they crafted their new cookbook, Extra Helping: Recipes for Caring, Connecting and Building Community, One Dish at a Time.

Janet, a writer with a passion for food, co-created the book with Anna, a writer and illustrator to contribute something to the greater good. In a time when many people are searching for more goodwill, Extra Helping is “a healing celebration of being together,” according to Anna. “It reminds us to reconnect with why we gather and why we feed ourselves.”

For Janet and Anna, the reality that food is not available to everyone is simply unacceptable. That’s why they connected with Feeding America as they developed the book. “With food being such a crucial part of the human experience, we knew from the beginning that we wanted this book to not just be a drop in the bucket,” said Janet. “We wanted to move the needle on issues like food accessibility and waste.” Janet and Anna have turned their beliefs into action, and as a result, Roost Books will donate five meals to families in need across the United States for every copy of Extra Helping sold.

When asked what someone should do if they want to join the fight against hunger, Janet described how she helps serve a meal at a local community center each month. “Showing up is 80% of what you need to get started.” It’s that simple—show up, be kind and cook.

Years ago, television personality Fred Rogers—known to many as Mister Rogers—shared some wisdom his mother had passed down to him. He said, “Whenever I would see scary things on the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

Feeding America is grateful to Roost Books, Janet Reich Elsbach and Anna Brones for their partnership. Their willingness to be the helpers in their communities and across the country is having a meaningful impact on many families in need.

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