This story comes to us from Challah for Hunger (CfH), a not-for profit organization with over 60 active chapters around the globe, mostly based on university campuses, that bakes and sells challah bread and uses the proceeds to support social justice causes.
Nathan Landay is a junior at Occidental College in Los Angeles where he co-founded and is currently president of Challah for Hunger at Occidental. Nathan was a member of the planning committee for the fourth annual Challah for Hunger National Leadership Summit held across two weekends in Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
“What about fair trade chocolate?” This was the question posed the Challah for Hunger Vassar chapter that inspired this year’s annual leadership summit theme: Beyond Baking. The most basic components of our operations are to bake, sell, give and lead, and as the organization turns ten, we have baking and selling delicious challah down to a science.
Yet, we still wanted to push ourselves.
So many chapters, including Occidental's, are eager to improve our advocacy efforts and continue Challah's "commitment to foster future philanthropists and leaders." The national summits provided the opportunity for over 80 students from 35 chapters across the country to come together to build connections while exploring topics like ingredient intentionality, leadership transitions, incorporating advocacy across all levels of participation, and future possibilities in social justice spheres after Challah.
The palpable excitement in the room, in which we swapped special recipes and traded tips of the trade, reminded me of the reason I first got involved with the CfH community.
I was having lunch with a friend at Scripps college on a Friday afternoon when we walked by Pomona, another nearby school, where I saw a thrall of people gathered around a table purchasing freshly baked challah. I asked my friend what was going on and she told me about Challah for Hunger. When I learned there was no chapter at Occidental when I enrolled the following fall, I reached out to other interested students to start a chapter of our own.
Our operations and presence on campus have grown over time and so has our membership. During our baking sessions I get to meet and work with individuals with whom I would otherwise not cross paths. We have come together from disparate parts of the school and have created a community around our shared passion for the organization and the work we do.
Our path has been long and at times arduous. My experience with CfH has taught me that the only way to succeed is to work with others. Regardless of how motivated or independent you are, a good support team makes all the difference.
I was, therefore, grateful for my inspiring colleagues on the summit planning committee. We had video conferences from our respective locations around the country to create an experience for various chapter leaders to learn and develop.
The national summits show chapters they are not alone. You learn that all chapters have challenges whether they are brand new or ten years old. Having so many leaders in one room offers an invaluable opportunity to work together to solve problems and ask for advice. You can be discussing an issue about volunteer recruitment with someone from a chapter across the country and they may have a fresh perspective on how to solve the problem.
Moreover, the summits strengthen the sense of community across the network, and reminds people that they are not an isolated group on their campus but a part of the much larger family of CfH carrying out a greater mission.
It can be so easy for a chapter to be wrapped up in their weekly operations that they forget there is another chapter across town. The summits allow these chapters to build connections and plan future collaborations that utilize their proximity and individual strengths.
As leaders of Challah for Hunger, our greatest resource is each other and the summits provide the ideal setting for us to remember that fact and act on it. People leave the summit feeling motivated and excited to take all they have learned and apply these tools in their own work. I see the summit as a pep rally that leaves me feeling rip rorin’ and ready to go!
Reflecting on the past ten years, I think CfH has proved that it is possible to “bake a difference.” I have great faith in the direction that the organization is moving in and that it will continue to grow, engaging more campuses and helping more people. I look forward to the day when Challah for Hunger is an organization readily associated with campus life.
The Schusterman Family Foundation is proud to empower emerging leaders to explore their values, identity and new ways to strengthen their communities. We believe that as we work together to repair the world, it is important to share our diverse experiences and perspectives along the way. We encourage the expression of personal thoughts and reflections here on the Schusterman blog. Each post reflects solely the opinion of its author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Foundation, its partner organizations or all program participants.