Claire Bloom was meeting with her book club in 2010 when a fellow member, a teacher, mentioned that some of her students had nothing to eat between lunch on Friday and breakfast at school on Monday. “I was absolutely stunned and appalled,” Bloom says of learning that kids were going hungry in her seemingly affluent New Hampshire community.
Bloom marched down to the district office wielding her checkbook, only to be told they didn’t need money—they needed someone to get food to kids on Fridays. The challenge didn’t faze the 20-year veteran, who retired in 1998 as a lieutenant commander, the USS Constitution‘s first female executive officer. “I said, ‘I can do that,'” Bloom says. “After being in the navy, it was no big deal.”
Within months, Bloom and her husband used $10,000 of their own funds to launch End 68 Hours of Hunger, a nonprofit delivering food-filled backpacks to schools on Friday afternoons. It started with 19 kids at three schools; today, thanks to donations, sponsorships, and partnerships with grocery megachains, it has an annual budget of $1.2 million and feeds nearly 3,000 children in eight states and counting. Bloom, who works 20 to 30 hours a week, has never taken a salary. “There are 13 million hungry children in the U.S.” she says. “If people want their communities to thrive, they have to ensure that their children thrive. It’s as simple as that.”
by: Jaimie Seaton