“Unlike curing cancer or heart disease, we already know how to beat hunger: food.” – Mario Batali, Chief Culinary Ambassador of Cheeky

About eight years ago, I was diagnosed with celiac disease. For those who don’t know, celiac disease is an auto-immune disease preventing your body from breaking down gluten, a protein found in many different grains. Because celiac disease attacks what your body uses to to absorb vitamins and nutrients needed to function, people with celiac disease end up with malnutrition, despite eating enough to sustain a healthy, normal lifestyle.


Upon my diagnosis, I became obsess with food. But not in the traditional foodie way you’d imagine. Instead, my obsession focused on learning what I was eating. What did this ingredients really mean? How was it going to affect by body? Would it still cause me pain? Keep in mind, when I was diagnosed, “gluten free” was not a thing. I had to read every label, google ingredients I didn’t know (or couldn’t pronounce) and really learn about the history of food.


Living with celiac disease has changed my relationship with food. While I still enjoy eating, I naturally gravitate to foods that nourish and heal. Rather than make choices based on what sounds good in that moment. But I am lucky to live in a place and have the financial resources to look at food in this way. Sadly, for a large majority of those living in the United States, eating three meals a day is a luxury.


Hunger in America affects 49 million people every year. And that includes children, too. What’s worse, we are one of the most affluent nations on the planet, yet one in six Americans go to bed hungry each night. Yet, despite the millions who are hungry, we still throw away approximately $165 billion worth of food annually – that’s 40% of our food supply each year.


Food has a very unique place in our culture. We use food and meals as an excuse to take a break in our day, to catch up with friend and loved ones, or to learn about another culture we cannot afford to visit. Food is an excuse to celebration, a source of comfort, and a means to feel connected. Luckily, helping to end hunger and a love of food does not have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, thanks to the compassionate team behind Cheeky, we now have a built in excuse to do both.


Founded by PJ Brice, Cheeky makes brightly colored, fun and well made paper products that make you want to find any excuse to eat with friends. And for every product you purchase, Cheeky donates a meal to Feeding America. To date, Cheeky has donated over 3 million meals. Because of Cheeky and their team of hunger fighters, 3 million people in the US have gone to bed with a full stomach. All because people like you and me choose to purchase a product from a company that believes in doing good.


Their recent collaboration with French Bull is timed perfectly for summer picnics and tailgates. The colorful designs and creative patterns are evocative of lazy summer days spent outdoors watching the skies transition from deep blue to oranges and golden reds. Days spent by pools eating food fresh from the grill. Drinking a crisp, chilled sangria to cool off from the dry heat. The collaboration perfectly embodies what we imagine summer to be as we anxiously await its return during the cold winter months.


My mother used to always say, “you vote with your dollar.” The way we choose to spend our money is a reflection of what we stand for. Paper products are something we use on a daily basis. Why not use your vote to support a brand that helps to feed someone who needs a warm meal? With the abundance of food we have access to here in America, and our love of food and community, we can each play a part in ending hunger within our borders.


As part of their collaboration, Cheeky asked me to share #WhatsInMyBasket. It’s filled with things that are nourishing to both the body and the soul. Join in the conversation with Cheeky and me by sharing what is in your basket this summer by sharing a photo on Instagram and using the hashgat, #WhatsInMyBasket

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