French Supermarkets Now Have To Donate Unsold Food

French Supermarkets Now Have To Donate Unsold Food

Feb 10

France recently put into effect a new law which requires all grocery stores over 4,304 square feet to donate unsold food to charities. Those stores must sign contracts with local shelters or food banks to ensure that they do not waste food which is still edible, but not expected to sell. Sell by and busy by dates on food are, largely, nonsense. They are put there by manufacturers to indicate when the food might reach it’s peak quality, not when it goes bad or becomes unsafe. Customers tend not to buy food past these dates, so it gets thrown out. As a result, about one third of all food made for human consumption goes to waste, much of it in the European Union and the United States. In France, needy people had made a habit of sifting through grocery garbage bins for edible food, which in turn prompted many stores to secure their bins or to destroy the food, sometimes by dumping bleach on it. In light of the facts, those actions seem downright cruel, and it was that mindset that got French activists to pursue the new law, which was passed back in December. That food will not go to use and be given to needy people, which doesn’t cost the grocery stores anything more than throwing it out did. Roughly a million more meals will be provided to needy people through this program, and those meals will generally be better than others. There is a significant lack of certain items in food banks and soup kitchens, but this new law will help offset that by ensuring that a wider variety of foods end up in such places. There are movements to introduce such laws across the European Union, and even efforts to do so in the United States. There are, after all, a lot of hungry people in the world, so throwing all that food out is, frankly,...

Have a Hart Day Illustrates 21st Century Volunteering

Have a Hart Day Illustrates 21st Century Volunteering

Feb 03

Have a Hart Day is a volunteer initiative started by Hannah Hart, a YouTube star, actor, author, and comedian best known for her web series My Drunk Kitchen. Hart is by no means the first celebrity, of any scale, to start a charitable organization, but Have a Hart Day, often shortened to HAHD, isn’t a charitable organization. It’s a model of volunteering that is focused on building community and helping others. Hart has a philosophy that she refers to as “reckless optimism,” which entails moving forward and staying positive as much as possible. It’s helped her through some rough times in her own life, and it’s something that she’s had success sharing with others. Part of that process is a mantra of “when in doubt, help someone out.” HAHD is exactly that, it provides an opportunity to help others, at soup kitchens, food banks, or anywhere else that volunteers are needed. Because the focus is on helping out, and not on helping particular people or in a particular place, it has a wide, global appeal. It also capitalizes on the fact that many of the volunteers who attend HAHD events are young, Hart has a lot of teenaged and “millennial” fans, and still trying to figure out what they want to do with themselves, in their lives, professions, and charitable work. HAHD events happen all over the world, with some cities seeing more events than others, with some bigger or smaller. Unlike a charity fundraiser, there’s little chance of a HAHD event failing. Any number of volunteers are better than no volunteers at a soup kitchen in Seattle, for example. With enough planning events can be large and have a big impact, but Hart’s fan base, the people who are largely being drawn into these events, can get together and help out at almost a moment’s notice, without great expenditure on their part, or on the part of the group they’re working...

Ethiopia Faces Massive Drought, Needs Assistance

Ethiopia Faces Massive Drought, Needs Assistance

Jan 27

According to Save the Children, Ethiopia is on the verge of the worse drought in 50 years, and the response hasn’t been big enough to handle the issue. They are expecting around 350,000 newborns during the next six months, when the “hunger season” reaches its peak. Those extra mouths will be hard to feed in the large portions of the country struggling to get by, where rain failures will be preventing the growth of much of anything on rain-fed farms. According to the charity, this is a “code red emergency,” and should be treated as such. Unfortunately, neither the United Nations nor the international community in general seems to be taking it seriously. Response to the drought has been minimal, and he charity is concerned for Ethiopia’s ability to cope. The drought is due to El Niño, which began last year and causes extreme weather conditions around the world. In this case, it’s resulting in a severe reduction of rain in the east African country, which has left 10.1 million people in need of aid. Save the Children is currently working in over 60 of the most affected areas of the country, helping to provide food, water, and medicine to people in need, especially those who have lost their incomes due to the drought. They think they’d need about $1.4 billion in order to fight the effects of the drought, something they don’t expect to get. Hopefully, the African Union Summit held in Addis Ababa, and at which UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is set to address African leaders, will provide an opportunity to make the case for greater involvement of both the United Nations and the international community. That summit is running from January 21st to January 31st, so the charity and Ethiopian leaders should have a chance to get the word...

Tinder Adds STD Testing Locator after Being Bullied by Non-Profit

Tinder Adds STD Testing Locator after Being Bullied by Non-Profit

Jan 22

2014 saw a dramatic rise in STDs according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and those numbers were especially high among younger people. Rationalizing that those younger people are also mobile phone users, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation started putting up billboards in Los Angeles and New York that associated the dating app Tinder with STDs. Now, it’s not a fair assumption that the existence of dating apps is leading to a greater instance of sexually transmitted diseases, and it certainly can’t be entirely Tinder’s fault. There are numerous dating sites and applications that didn’t exist even a few years ago, but the ease of using such apps isn’t necessarily resulting in more unprotected sex. It’s too early to know if that data reflects more cases, or just more people getting tested, so the AIDS Healthcare Foundation took a swing in the dark, and an ill-informed one at that. But, they did get what they wanted, it seems. Tinder recently announced that they would be adding a link to a free STD testing site location app from Healthvana on their website, and including it in the frequently asked questions section of their app. They did, however, make sure to note that the CDC has not identified any correlation, much less causation, between an increase in STDs and the use of Tinder or any other dating app. The inclusion of the links is a good thing, all in all, but it was achieved not by two groups working together, but by a non-profit using it’s clout to bully a technology company. There has to have been a better way to get this same result, namely they could have simply approached Tinder with the idea that they make such information available. It certainly wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for a dating site, and also doesn’t reflect poorly on them. Maybe next...

Prep for Prep

Prep for Prep

Jan 18

The Prep for Prep organization works to develop leadership skills and educational opportunities for students of color in New York City. It was started in 1978 by South Bronx teacher Gary Simons and has grown since then to support 225 students a year. Fifth, sixth, and seventh graders who scored in the top ten percent on the state English Language Arts tests are nominated to join the program, a 14-month preparation for independent school enrollment. Prep for Prep goes beyond just academics, though; it also trains participants to be leaders by using an individualized approach and supporting students through the whole process. Students in the program don’t just get placed in high-powered schools; they are supported all along the way. Prep for Prep charges no tuition for its services—thanks to generous individual supporters like hedge fund guru Dan Loeb, the non-profit has the resources to offer their services without having to charge the low-income students who are benefitting from them. The Prep Community includes more than 4,500 members, according to the website. These members are “rapidly assuming leadership positions in a wide variety of endeavors” and are “living proof that the potential for academic and professional success exists in all ethnic groups and socioeconomic classes.” Though Prep for Prep is only able to serve about 0.1% of the students who are eligible to apply, those who complete the program definitely see results, ending up in top tier independent schools (Trinity, Collegiate, Brearley), boarding schools (Exeter, Choate, Phillips Academy) and, eventually, top notch universities (Harvard, Yale, Stanford). A heartfelt editorial in The Huffington Post points out the importance of programs like Prep for Prep: “Our public school system has the resources–human and financial, teacher and student– to harness more from gifted, driven youths. We need our schools to be able to say truthfully to students: “If you are willing to work your heart out and make education your priority, you will be richly rewarded with opportunities.” That’s the best of the American dream. Right now, the tacit message of so many schools is actually: “You have to go through the motions here because that’s the way it’s always been. School is good, and if you’re not into it, shape up or ship out.” Hardly inspiring.” Programs like Prep for Prep, however, are definitely inspiring—and committed to making a real difference in students’...

The Philadelphia Inquirer Belongs to a Non-Profit Now

The Philadelphia Inquirer Belongs to a Non-Profit Now

Jan 16

The Philadelphia Inquirer, one of the oldest newspapers in the country, is going non-profit. Specifically, it and it’s sister publications, the Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com, have been donated to Institute for Journalism in New Media, which itself is part of the Philadelphia Foundation. The move is an attempt to ease the financial burden that legacy news organizations face these days. People have been saying for some time that “print is dead,” and while it continually proves them wrong, newspapers have been struggling across the country. The goal with this move is to make that easier by making the paper leaner. They still need to generate profit, but that money has to be sunk back into the company, instead of going to owners. The Tampa Bay Times is also owned by a non-profit, the Poynter Institute, but unlike the Philadelphia Inquirer, that paper is held as a for-profit subsidiary. The Inquirer and her sisters have started down a new path, the effects of which remain to be seen. But it stands to reason that the non-profit world is perhaps where newspapers, perhaps journalism in general, belong. While they have historically been for-profit, and often started as money making ventures, newspapers have long filled an essential role within democracy. While blogs and other websites are horning in on that territory, newspapers still serve a purpose, especially for those readers who do not have Internet access. Not having a computer shouldn’t prevent you from keeping up with the news. So it makes sense that a medium so essential to the workings of democracy, which is intended to inform the citizenry and to uplift them, should be non-profit. It benefits the readers, by keeping newspapers around, and it benefits those with jobs in he industry, from journalists to printers, who are at risk of losing their jobs in attempts to keep those papers lean and...

Russian College Burns Books Connected to Charity Group

Russian College Burns Books Connected to Charity Group

Jan 15

Vorkuta Mining and Economic College, in the city of Vorkuta in the Komi Republic, a part of Russia, recently burned 53 books from their own library. They confiscated another 427 books in order to shred them. The books were related to a “Renewal of Humanitarian Education” program that is linked to charities run by George Soros. Soros is best known as a hedge fund manager, and set up several charities to help post-Communist states transition to democracy after the end of the Soviet Union. In November though, two of his charities, the Open Society Foundations (OSF) and the Open Society Institute (OSI) were put on a “stop list” by the government of the Russian Federation. They are seen as undesirable, foreign non-governmental organizations. They’re undesirable because they promote open societies and are pro-democracy, something Putin and his followers see as “soft aggression” against the Russian Federation. Although Russia is, officially, a democracy, Putin has generally made a mockery of the idea since he initially took power in 1999. Open Society Foundation hasn’t provided a statement in response to any of this yet, but it seems pretty obvious that Putin’s goal is to silence voices of dissent, especially those that might spark more dissent. He is not a particularly democratic ruler, and this kind of activity is pretty much par for the course for him. The removal of books from a university library is pretty much a slap in the face of democracy and the concept of an open society, which he Russian Federation is supposed to have been professing since the end of the Soviet Union. Beyond that, burning those books brings up some rather negative connotations. Most famously, of course, were the Nazis, who burned books by Jewish and other “undesirable” writers. Back in the 1950s, local churches and schools sometimes organized bonfires to burn comic books in America, because they were seen as having a negative influence on adolescents, an argument which was unfounded and has been long disproven. Putin isn’t really in great company...

David Bowie’s Dedication to the Fight Against AIDS

David Bowie’s Dedication to the Fight Against AIDS

Jan 14

(Image by Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock.com) Among his many other talents and accomplishments, musician David Bowie was also a dedicated servant of the fight against AIDS. Together with his wife, model Iman Abdulmajid, Bowie helped raise AIDS awareness around the globe as well as tackle the problems of famine in Africa. His history of philanthropic giving was long, successful, and inspirational. Here’s a look back at some of his charitable achievements. Bowie and Iman supported the Keep a Child Alive Foundation, intended to spread awareness to HIV/AIDS. The charity works to reduce infections in children by combating physical, social, and economic challenges that lead to its spreading. Iman served as a global ambassador for the foundation and for their I Am Africa Campaign. The last performance Bowie gave was in 2006 for the Keep a Child Alive Foundation’s Black Ball gala. Bowie performed at many concerts for charitable causes, participating in global tours to that effect. He was featured in a 1985 Live Aid concert, which generated significant funds to minimize some of the dangers of AIDS and mitigate the risk of contraction. In the 90s, both Bowie and Iman also took part in a 7th on Sale fundraising event to benefit HIV/AIDS research. They were themselves continuous donors. Additionally, Bowie used some of his career to work toward racial equality. His 1989 album Tin Machine directly opposed Neo-Nazism. In a 1983 interview with MTV, Bowie was highly critical against the network’s lack of diversity and unwillingness to cover the work of black musicians. In 1998, Iman teamed up with rapper Missy Elliott, also a dedicated philanthropist, to create Misdemeanor Lipstick, a cosmetic line that dedicated proceeds to Break the Cycle. The organization helped minimize domestic hardships and abuse against teenagers and young children to help them live better, safer lives. Finally, Bowie ensured that before his death from liver cancer on January 10th, all proceeds from January sales of his brand-new album Blackstar would go towards Cancer Research...