A Hunger to Help
by Rachel Grate '15
Challah for Hunger (CfH) has its humble beginnings at Scripps College. What began as a fun pastime that was simple and delicious has turned into a nationwide — and now international — organization with 60 chapters, and keeps growing.
It all started with Eli Winkelman ’07. She simply liked to make challah bread and was willing to teach whoever wanted to learn. Week after week, she would give her friends a challah baking lesson. Later, they would comment that the bread was being eaten as quickly as they could bake it by their friends and roommates.
“We realized that there was a demand to make and eat challah,” Winkelman said. “So, we decided to do it for a good cause.” With no thought of creating a nonprofit organization, that’s exactly what she and her friends did in the fall of 2004, using a basic economic model: supply and demand.
Due to the enormous success of the nonprofit, at the Clinton Global Initiative in 2009, President Bill Clinton commended Winkelman and Challah for Hunger for their efforts on national television, and included the organization’s model for success in his book, Giving.
As the executive director of Challah for Hunger — or the “CEO: Challah Enthusiasm Officer,” as she prefers, Winkelman manages the entire 60-chapter organization, including its finances.
Now that CfH has grown into a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with college chapters throughout the United States and in England and Australia, financial regulation and an operating budget are imperative.
“With the operating budget, my idea is whatever we want to do, we’ll write it up in the budget, and we’ll make it happen. Fortunately, we have a great board of directors who reminds me we need a plan to make the money we’re going to spend.” Diana Ho ’71, a strategic planning and organizational development consultant and former Scripps trustee, is one of Challah for Hunger’s directors.
Winkelman says putting her time and effort into managing the organization’s budget has given her a new appreciation for financial responsibility. “Knowledge is power,” she adds. “If you know how much you spent last year, and you know what you’re spending money on, and you’re keeping track of it in a way that makes sense to you, you’re more in control and you can do more.”
One of the special aspects of CfH is its ability to make money through its income stream on the chapter level. As long as there are both volunteers and an available kitchen, the program is easy to replicate.
This accessibility explains the rapid spread of chapters, one of which remains flourishing at Scripps. The organization grows by word of mouth; friends of Winkelman’s from her hometown in Austin opened the second chapter at the University of Texas.
Finance Coordinator Savannah Fitz ’13 initially worked for CfH as a finance manager, a position she now oversees. In the process, she’s learned that “awareness is key” when it comes to finances. “It’s interesting to see every single aspect,” Fitz said. And it’s great to have huge numbers at the end of the semester to donate.”
Fitz’s experiences echo what other students have told Winkelman about CfH helping them gain awareness and reimagine finances. The organization has given these students a purpose behind their investments.
“When I manage my money better, I can support all of these things that I care about,” Winkelman said. “That idea is so empowering.” And empowering others to spread philanthropy is a solid investment.
All Challah for Hunger chapters donate half of their profits to the American Jewish World Service’s Sudan Relief and Advocacy Fund, the current national cause for the organization. This year, the Scripps chapter is focusing on HIV/AIDS by donating the remainder of their profits to the local Foothill AIDS project and to an organization in Tanzania Savannah Fitz ’13 volunteered with last summer; visit The Claremont Colleges’ chapter website here.
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