She describes her childhood as being “food insecure,” and because she knows all too well the burden kids who face hunger carry, Kelsea Pernsteiner made it her business to raise at least $100, or enough to feed 1,000 children through No Kid Hungry by Thanksgiving.
“One of the major things was the shame I felt sometimes as a child once I started to realize we were poor and not every kid was getting Ramen noodles and cans of cranberry sauce from the guidance counselor,” she said.
To raise the money from her home in Hampton, Pernsteiner is connecting her love of baking to the cause that’s personal to her with the launch of a social media fundraiser, “Cookies for a Cause.”
With it, she’s donating any ingredients and supplies needed plus 100 percent of the proceeds from selling homemade desserts like spiced candied pecans and dark chocolate fudge.
As a former recipient of several summertime meal drives, Pernsteiner said No Kid Hungry’s initiative to assist programs that feed kids outside of regular school hours is something that “really means a lot” to her and is one reason she chose the organization as the beneficiary of her fundraiser.
“If school wasn’t in session that meant that I might only eat one meal a day,” she said.
“No Kid Hungry gives access to those programs like summer meals and providing breakfast for kids especially during testing — I know it was really hard during standardized tests to try and focus when my stomach was grumbling because I only had a small dinner the night before.”
No Kid Hungry is a national campaign — not a food pantry — with a mission to end childhood hunger by partnering with communities and other nonprofits to improve or expand programs that increase children’s access to three meals a day, according to the website.
The campaign’s “365 Days of Service with Child Nutrition Programs” makes it possible for organizations to serve meals to children during one-third of the year, or during summer, weekends, and holidays when kids are out of school.
“Sometimes our work is complex and there are large barriers, like state laws that mandate the time of day breakfast is served at schools. But sometimes the problem is as simple as schools not having carts to carry meals through the halls to kids,” the site reads.
“When we carefully invest donor dollars in these programs, they can reach a lot more kids.”
An Air Force veteran, a military spouse, and a mother, Pernsteiner said this fundraiser is part of her mission to continue to serve.
“It was really important to me to serve my country because my country served me as a child,” she said. “I hope that other people find ways to serve their communities as well.”
Order $5 to $10 boxes of shortbread, Danish butter, buckeyes, and what Pernsteiner called her “bomb” soft chocolate chip cookies via “Cookies for a Cause,” or click here to donate on her “Friendsgiving for No Kid Hungry” website.