Dine Out for No Kid Hungry: Fight childhood hunger while satisfying your own

by Terry B on September 26, 2012

This month, more than 6,500 restaurants across America are supporting the No Kid Hungry campaign. Getting involved is easy. And delicious.

On any given day, 16.2 million kids in this country may not get enough food to eat. According to Share Our Strength, “food insecurity—the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food—exists in 17.2 million households in America.” Numbers this big often evoke two responses. Moral outrage—”why should any child in this country not get enough to eat?”—followed immediately by “but what can one person do?” This month, the answer is a lot.

Share Our Strength has teamed up with more than 6,500 restaurants nationwide to support its No Kid Hungry campaign. Making a donation that will provide meals to kids who need them can be a simple as dining out at a participating restaurant. You can find restaurants near you by visiting the Dine Out for No Kid Hungry website. Be sure to check each restaurant’s location link for details, including their participation dates.

Romano’s Macaroni Grill is offering three ways to connect kids to meals. First, when you dine at Macaroni Grill and make a $2 donation to No Kid Hungry, you’ll provide up to 20 meals for kids in need—and you’ll receive $5 off your next visit. Second, when you go there, tag an Instagram photo or tweet of your Mac Grill experience with #macgrillgive. For every tag, they’ll help connect a kid with a meal. Can’t make it to Macaroni Grill by Sunday? Share an image from their Facebook Gallery—the image above is from their gallery. For every share, they’ll help connect a kid with a meal. Find all the details and links at the 1 Million Meals page on their website.

Macaroni Grill has already exceeded their goal for this year’s campaign of “connecting kids to more than a million meals.” In fact, they’ve already doubled it. And there’s still time to get involved and send that number higher.

They’ve also reached out to a number of bloggers, asking us to share favorite Italian meals and recipes. For each of these posts, they’re donating $50, which will connect kids to up to 500 meals.

While I’ve eaten many sumptuous Italian meals—and cooked a few too—I thought this called for something simpler. It doesn’t get much simpler than Spaghetti with Pecorino Romano and Pepper, a lively, rustic Roman favorite made with only four ingredients. And two of those are salt and pepper.

I thought of this dish for a couple of reasons. First, for all its simplicity, it is genuinely delicious and satisfying. The first time I cooked it, I fully expected to be making a late night fridge raid when hunger hit. It never did. There was just a lot of Marion and me saying, “Wow. Dinner was really good.”

Second, I have known food insecurity as a child. They didn’t call it that then, and I didn’t even know it was going on at the time. But there were long stretches when I was little that my family ate biscuits and gravy three meals a day. The ingredients of the two sustaining meals are essentially the same—some starch, some fat, some salt and pepper. Interestingly, I still love biscuits and gravy. I seek them out on diner breakfast menus. And it probably explains, at least in part, why I love this elemental pasta dish.

You’ll find the complete story and recipe for Spaghetti with Pecorino Romano and Pepper here. #macgrillgive

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

kitchenriffs September 26, 2012 at 3:55 pm

I’ve done this dish before! Good stuff. I’m more inclined to do the classic Cacio e Pepe (essentially the same dish, but with some butter added), but this is an immensely satisfying dish. I sometimes add red pepper flakes, too – totally not authentic, but pretty good. Good cause, nice post – thanks.

Terry B September 26, 2012 at 8:23 pm

You’re right, Kitchenriffs, it is a satisfying dish. The butter sounds like a nice indulgent touch—I was surprised, though, that with no oil or butter in mine, it still didn’t turn into a big starchy ball. The trick is to barely drain the spaghetti, so that the pasta water keeps things lubricated. And I love the idea of the red pepper flakes.

The Rowdy Chowgirl October 2, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Mmm, a delicious dish and a good cause. Your biscuits and gravy reminded me of some of the meals we ate when I was a kid. We certainly never went hungry, but looking back, some of those dinners of beans and cornbread or creamed tuna on toast were no doubt meant to stretch the food budget as far as it needed to go.

Terry B October 3, 2012 at 3:44 am

Thanks, Rowdy. And I see you’ve already discovered this week’s recipe post, another dinner of beans meant to stretch the food budget, my take on Senate Bean Soup. Interestingly, those budget-stretching meals of childhood are the ones I remember most fondly.

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