“No act of kindness however small is ever wasted.” ~Aesop
It all started with a donation of bagels from a mom who knew that unsold bagels go to waste and approached local shop owners, Ted and Patra of New York Bagel in Brentwood.
That one container of bagels fed hundreds of children at Paul Revere Middle School. In order to bring bagels to kids that need a little more, you have to offer bagels to everyone. Some kids really are hungry and may have skipped breakfast, but other kids are just happy to get some kind of attention… a bit of love and kindness in the gift of a bagel.
It is an honor and a privilege to be the ‘Bagel Mom.’ Every act of kindness has a ripple effect and the Bagel Mom Program is just that.
I had no idea when I began this effort with one supply of bagels where it would lead. There was no intention or plan to be Bagel Mom; there was just the obvious waste and a corresponding need. There were kids slipping through the cracks at my schools for many different reasons who just do not have enough to eat.
At first the bagels caused chaos. Initially, there was a frenzy to get one of the lucky bagels and kids were leaving their classes earlier and earlier to get to Nutrition. I had to find a better way and giving up would not solve the problem. It simply was not an option.
Kids feeding kids… That was the solution. There are now about 60 kids, teachers and adults involved in an operation organized with students assigned roles as security, line organizer, bagel set up, clean up and bagel assembly line.
Last year, John Dwight an English teacher at Paul Revere Middle School, took on the role of CEO of Bagel Operations and organized the kids feeding kids concept with terrific results. The student volunteers learned priceless lessons, how to accept responsibility, operate within an organizational structure and how to act with kindness and compassion.
The Bagel Mom Program is now operating at two large public schools and expanding and Bagel Mom, Ann Hansen and Bagel Dad, Mike Friedman and Bonnie Rejaei are among 20 dedicated volunteers. UCLA is joining in to distribute these bagels as part of their Food Closet program, which feeds up to 1,000 students a day.
Tons of perfectly good food is disposed of every day. According to Peter Lehner, Executive Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) 40 percent of the food we produce in the United States goes uneaten.
Kindness is a feeling. It starts with action. Every day, hundreds of kids, homeless and in shelters receive bagels and other donated food from the community and it is with kindness and gratitude these bagels are handed out and received.
I could not do any of this without generous donations from Whole Foods, New York Bagel, Belwood Bakery and Noah’s Bagels in Brentwood, Sprouts Farmers Market in Westwood and Bristol Farms in Santa Monica.
Picking up and delivering bagels is a family affair and I am so grateful for the support of my husband Brett and my children Dane, Jaden, Cody and Madison.
It is my hope that schools at every level, from grade school to college will reach out to their community and institute programs that feed the hungry, instill kindness and compassion and recycle wholesome food that would otherwise go to waste.
Deborah Elkins, mother of four vegan kids in Brentwood, CA, is the founder of the Bagel Mom movement that feeds hungry kids at schools, shelters and other programs in the Los Angeles area. twitter.com/BagelMomDiaries