Friday, October 28, 2011

If You Need A Band Aid.... Use A Band Aid!

Every so often in this world hunger ending conversation and experience that is Soup Kitchen, ( ) I run into the mindset that says more or less (ok actually less, this mindset never says more) “Isn’t feeding the hungry just putting a band aid on the problem and (if they want to seem really enlightened) not addressing the root causes or issues?”

(Is it wrong that one of my initial internal reactions is to think about reaching out and giving them a, very small and hopefully not painful, cut on their arm and asking them to repeat the question?)

As someone who has spent most of his life in some form of a professional cooking environment, I can honestly say, “If you need a band aid, use a band aid!”

Answering the issues underlying (since the issues never tell the Truth) hunger issue will be easier for everyone if their stomachs aren’t screaming during the process.

So assuming that “yes” isn’t enough of an answer, let’s address the bigger question. It’s the age old quandary of feeding a man a fish or teaching a man to fish. The real question here though, is who’s doing the fishing, and what’s the intended catch. In “The Conversation of Soup” it is not the person in need who is doing the fishing (they already know they are hungry and are most likely doing what they can in the moment to address that…… so get over it). The fisherman is the person who is already “catching their fish”; whether feeding themselves, or their family, Soup Kitchen simply takes that energy and matches it with the intention (and application) of “casting a larger net”. I find it more productive to teach a fisherman to fish better, than to convince someone who won’t go near the water, to fish.

You don’t solve the issue by addressing the energy that seems to perpetuate the issue. You expand upon the answer already in place that doesn’t recognize the issue in the first place. (Kind of a take on the Einstein quote about not solving a problem with the same consciousness that created it in the first place.) When we (Soup Kitchen) donate a portion of soup for every portion sold, feeding the hungry is actually a byproduct. The real intention is to create a habitual action of compassion and sharing of our abundant resources. If we are to know that there is enough (and more than enough) for everyone, we all must act accordingly.

And by the way, the act of applying a band aid, whether as an act of triage, a simple answer to a small wound, or a loving placebo to a frightened child (I’m a parent too), first and foremost, sets the intention of healing.

Just as an actual band aid facilitates the bodies natural healing process, the metaphorical “band aid” of helping someone in need by actually helping them in their moment of need, facilitates the specie’s natural healing process. If it is within us to care about ourselves, and then we can expand that to our “loved ones”, it is only our own sense of limitation that prevents us caring about everyone.

To that I simply say this.  Bon App├ętit

“Together we can change the way the world helps.”


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Every Body needs Somebody Sometimes

(or at least they did at one time)

Pretty bold statement number 3 (if you’re reading these chronologically and keeping count): We as humans are hard wired to help. It’s part of the process of Life. First we have to recognize that “help” is a two part process. First there must be someone in need of help, and second, someone to fill that need. Now for all of you self-sufficient, I am responsible for my experience only, just as everybody is responsible for their own experience, I can’t live their life and they can’t live mine, spiritually evolved mystics and gurus,(it’s ok, I am a Religious Science minister and wrote that last sentence strictly professionally speaking), I’d like to take you back in time a little, back before you remembered anything, or back before you forgot just how connected we all really are
For our first nine months, we were all feeding off/ needing the “kindness of strangers”. To that end, it means that @ half the human population is physically constructed as help providing beings, and ALL of us needed that help at some point. We entered this existence with and through the cooperation and effort of someone else. Help is the first thing we know, and better yet, receiving help is why we’re here at all. This is simply the physical truth of our physical beings.

The “need” in the world which appears is just the macrocosmic expression of our microcosmic experience. We as a people, are constantly evolving into Life. The cry for help we hear is just our birthing/growing (take your pick) pains. If we ignore the expression of life around us we dishonor the expression of Life within us.

Welcome to why I do Soup. For whatever reasons you may or may not choose to help someone else, there is ALWAYS someone you do help. Every time you breathe, every time your heart beats (“but hey that’s an automatic process” you say Hmmmmmmm so that means, that the very process that HELPS fuel your own being is an automatic  part of your very existence; that help is a part of who you are. Well thanks for making my argument for me:-).This works for every time you eat too.

And that’s the beauty of soup (at least Soup Kitchen, Inc. soup To help those in need you only have do one thing.

Help yourself.

“Together we can change the way the world helps”
I find it interesting that one of the biggest learning curves I seem to face is in convincing people that it’s up to those of us who can help, to help. Now if you’re reading this, then it’s most likely that you are the type of person who is inclined to help, and probably not in need of convincing (and for that I thank you). Of course you may not be that type of person at all, but if I do my job right, it won’t matter; hunger will end, and you, on some level, will help sustain the process (though I promise not to tell anyone who might think any better of you), and I want to thank you for being the impetus for the words that follow.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Putting the "share" back in market-share

Putting the Share Back in Market Share
So here’s a little glimpse into Soup Kitchen, Inc.’s business plan: The ultimate goal for product positioning is to have Soup Kitchen products available everywhere…. literally everywhere. From markets (local, super and every iteration in between), restaurants, gift stores, mall kiosks, anyplace it is appropriate to present Soup (whether packaged or prepared), Soup should be available.
I know, spoken like a true megalomaniacal business leader; except if you know me, you know that that couldn’t be further from the Truth, much to the annoyance of my accounts/ CFO and the polite patience (faith has many faces) of my investors. In the Soup Kitchen conversation, the phrase “putting purpose before profit” has been a guiding Principle (again, much to the consternation of the aforementioned people). Frankly, I’m not clever enough, to market lies, I can barely remember where I put my sunglasses, much less any guile or outright lies I might have to keep track of in the story of Soup. I’ve always understood the phrase “market share” to mean how much of the market one controls or at the very least influences. That was before I went into business myself. Not only did I go into business, but I went into a business with a global mandate right in its vision statement (Feeding the World.. is right on the label for crying out loud). Not only that, I went into business with a product that already has some global leaders (not to worry Campbell’s I have a plan that will make you Love the fact that I am here doing what I’m doing… stay tuned for “Cooperation Feeds Competition”). Somehow, the phrase “market share” focused only on the market, and not at all on the share.
In “The Conversation of Soup”, the concept of market share ties in with our vision statement, “Together we can change the way the world helps”. If we are out to feed the need of the world (and so we are) and it is through the selling of soup that we will (and so it is), then as far as I know, there isn’t any one venue large enough to maintain that kind volume (unless someone can sell @ 4 billion portions of soup daily….. and if you’re out there with THAT answer, please give me a call). So everyone gets to help here.
It is the sharing that we step into the together of “Together we can change the way the world helps”
And I can think of no one I’d like better to share It with than you.
In deepest gratitude,

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hunger isn't really the issue.

Pretty bold title for a man whose stated mission in Life is to end world hunger.  In Truth, up to this point, those words have really been a type of social shorthand (and further Truth be told, a little attention getting for the early stages of this journey). Now before you spit out your soup, let me tell you, what I mean. A very talented chef friend of mine (thanks Stan F. wherever you are) once told me his philosophy about bringing his very accomplished talents and creative ideas back to his home area, where the people might not have been prepared to appreciate (and in turn support) his culinary ambitions. He said that the first thing to do is to give the folks what they’re familiar with (in the best way imaginable) until they’re comfortable enough to trust you. Then you can start introducing new ideas, flavors, etc.
And so it is with soup… sort of. Don’t worry (or in the genius words of Douglas Adams, “Don’t Panic”) By the time I’m through, everyone will be fed, where and when they need; it’s just that (as I titled) hunger isn’t really the issue.
The technical (or dare I say industry) term for what I address through Soup Kitchen is “food insecurity”. It simply means that someone doesn’t know where (and often when) their next meal is coming from. Now if I was to come out saying, I’m out to end world food insecurity” most people would probably think I was auditioning for the next Woody Allen movie. Well I’m not (unless he really thinks I’m right for the part), it’s just that for now, ending “hunger” is the term that everyone who doesn’ t do this work full time already, is used to; and I’d rather have you understand what I’m (and ultimately we’re) doing, than quibble over terms.
In fact (pretty bold statement number 2 for this blog), hunger is a good  thing. I have yet to meet the person on this planet who is so self-regulated in their habits, that they never get hungry. Most times I look forward to being hungry because it means that I’m about to eat something. Chef work-wise, I am usually never more than a few feet away from something to feed on. I spent one day as an office worker in my life and was utterly confused by the lack of readily available food. All psycho analysis that is above my pay-grade anyway aside, hunger is simply a signal that it’s time to eat.
Soup Kitchen, Inc. takes that signal and turns it into a kind of nutritious empathy. If you are reading this, then you are probably on the side of the empathy link where you do know (or at least have a good idea) where/when your next “feed” is coming from. I for one don’t need to go/stay hungry to understand hunger, although I do respect the central idea in Ramadan; don’t eat during the day and then break your fast at sunset. You have the day to get an experiential understanding of those in need and then the reminder of your own personal blessings of self-sustainment.
That being said, I have even more respect for the idea expressed by Ernest Holmes (in his book of metaphysical essays, “The Science of Mind”) “The World has learned All it should through suffering.” If I’m disappointed in anything, it’s that we as humans, haven’t simply learned to care for each other. Fortunately, Soup does that (whether you care or not). (In case you don’t know by now). For each portion of soup sold ( a portion of soup is donated to someone in need. There, caring all done.
All I’m really doing is instilling a habit that’s been  there (albeit buried sometimes) all along (and making it taste real good), with the belief that our strength (as in the strong survive kind) lies in numbers not in individual accomplishment.
And the biggest number I can think of is All of Us.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Welcome to the Conversation

For those of you finding your way here (and a sincere welcome to you for that) without knowing anything about me, here's a brief intro to "The Conversation".For those of you who are already part of the story (and in Truth, we are ALL part of this story in one voice or another), here's an easy way to share it with those you care about.

What it's about (in form) is ending world hunger, through the process of Soup Kitchen, Inc. ( Yes there will be a modicum of plugging within the blogging, but you'll soon see that it's about much more than any personal or professional gain. The way it works is simple. For every portion of soup sold, an equal portion of soup is donated to someone in need. If you eat, someone in need eats. Done! As there are more people on our little blue-green ball that can feed themselves than cannot, the math is on our side as a practical solution/demonstration to what has appeared to be an insurmountable issue.

Now that that's handled, let's get into what "The Conversation" is really about.

It's about the fact that with over 6 billion people on the planet, we are probably here to be a supportive part of the process known as humanity. Some call it Compassion, some Unconditional Love, some The Golden Rule. I call it Lunch (Let Us Now Care Humanely) or Dinner (Doing Intentional Noshing Nourishes Everyone Responsibly).

There's an ingredient in the soup which isn't listed on the label (and unfortunately, the FDA hasn't even begun to explore the nutritional value of this one). I call it "intentional eating". Picture yourself sitting down to a well deserved, delicious, hunger and soul satisfying bowl of soup..... simply because you can. Now add to each spoonful you enjoy, the knowledge that, as you nourish yourself, you are also nourishing someone else in exactly the same way. Now multiply that knowing by however many spoonfulls it takes to finish the bowl. All of  a sudden, eating becomes an act of helping, an act of caring, an act of simple human respect and compassion... and you haven't even left the table. The act repeated soon becomes a habit (helpful soup hint: the bigger the bowl, the sooner the habit is ingrained), and our habits are simply an outward extension of our beliefs. Now head out of the house, into your day, with a well nourished habit of intentional, compassionate, caring for others and just imagine how your day is changed, not to mention the change in the day of those that compassion is directed towards.

You see, we don't need to spend out time trying to teach/convince people that we should treat each other better (and this is coming from a man who is moments away from getting his ministerial license). With the right process in place, the act can be automatic.

In my smarmier moments, I say I started Soup Kitchen, so that even if you never lifted a finger or gave a dime to help someone, even if you didn't care at all, you can still help.

Of course the goal of all of this is to live in a world where things like Soup Kitchen, Inc are the norm, where purpose drives profit, a world of bridges, not fences, a world where it is all only us.

Thanks for joining "The Conversation of Soup". Its about all of us.

"Together we can change the way the world helps" - Jamie Klein