Several months ago, I visited the Warwick Mall (poor flooded mall) with my brother Michael.  We were lazily browsing in each store, trying to pass the time on another cold winter day, when we were approached by a young man.  He asked if we wanted to participate in a taste test in exchange for a Dunkin Donuts gift card.  I inquired if the sample food was gluten-free, since Michael and I both have celiac, and I was assured that the sample was a-okay.

After signing a release form, we were led behind a set of curtains to a table and chairs surrounded by several video cameras.  The table held a microphone and a silver dome that covered a dish.  As Michael and I sat down on one side of the table, a handsome guy who looked like a news reporter or game show host took a seat opposite us.

He said that we were going to sample something that Rhode Islanders eat every day and he wanted our opinion about it.  I instantly started pondering–what do Rhode Islanders eat every day that’s gluten-free?  Iced Coffee?  Seafood?  Del’s Lemonade?

He slowly lifted the lid to reveal NOTHING.  An empty plate.  He gave us a moment to take it all in and then explained that many Rhode Island residents eat nothing.  They go hungry.

When asked how that made us feel, I said that I work for a non-profit organization so I know how many people come to us on a daily basis looking for food, clothing, shelter, etc.  I’ve watched these issues devastate so many people–home owners, small business owners, college graduates, small children, people who are running out of welfare benefits, youth aging out of foster care, the elderly etc.  Hunger doesn’t discriminate.

Our eye-opening taste test was part of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank’s new fundraising campaign.

Besides great videos, the Nothing campaign also includes billboards, radio spots, and these nifty Nothing brand cans that are for sale at local markets and stores for $2.99–the cost of purchasing 10 pounds of food for someone in need.  The cans also have a slot in the top to gather even more donations for the Food Bank.

This fundraising campaign has gained attention from NPR, the New York Times, and other media outlets.

Please considering doing nothing for hunger in Rhode Island.