Foodie, Advocate & Co-Creator | Charlene Theodore

Our latest volume of Hunger Free Quarterly has been washed and roasted in powerful stories of empowerment and exclusive recipes, by a team of amazing chefs and food bloggers who believe in a Hunger Free world.

We’ve been excited to partner with Charlene Theodore in this issue, and are pretty confident that you’ll be just as inspired by her as we have been!

The depth of Charlene’s advocacy extends beyond her profession as a lawyer, as she is also the founder of Chew Street, an online community with the purpose of connecting people over inspiring stories in the food industry. We love meeting with and hearing inspiring stories from our creators, and we couldn’t wait to get to know more about Charlene. Get to know her with us!

What about Hunger Free / Hunger Free Quarterly resonates with you?

C: Chew Street’s mission is to celebrate food, community, and people in the industry that are using their platform to bring about social change. Because of this, I always want to support initiatives and business that have a real, measureable impact on the issues I care about it. The Hunger Free Quarterly Box definitely does that. Subscription boxes are something that people love, and to take that model and use it to change the world for the better is really powerful.

Why is the theme of Empowerment important and personal to you?

C: Empowerment is an overarching theme that aligns with my personal and professional lives. I’m a lawyer and in that capacity, I do a lot of advocacy around the issues of diversity and gender equality. Empowering people who are negatively impacted by inequity is fundamental to achieving change. With Chew Street, I want to use my platform to empower people who are doing work like Hunger Free by making sure their stories are heard.

Who is Charlene?

C: Is it too easy to say I’m just a woman that loves to eat and feed people? Seriously though, I’m a lawyer that has a passion for both food and philanthropy. My work as a lawyer involves working primarily with women and I do a lot of advocacy work on gender diversity and women’s leadership. After hours, I work on Chew Street. an online community where I share great recipes and stories of people in the food industry that give back to their communities in creative ways. I love to travel and you will usually find me taking cooking lessons during vacation rather than lying on the beach. When I’m home in Toronto I love to try out new restaurants and cook for friends and family.

How does the work that you do empower others who work in and around food?

C: I think we do that by making sure the stories we tell are the stories of people that aren’t always told. Whether it’s partnering with Hunger Free or sharing the story of one of California’s only female winemakers, I think that by shining a light on what we like to call “Feel Good Food Stories”, Chew Street empowers consumers to make better purchasing decisions and empowers other food business to be more thoughtful about giving back.

What are the aims of Chew Street?

C: Chew Street is constantly evolving! That’s what I love about it. The original goal is still the same, to bring a new perspective to food blogging and social media by combinging the love of food and the love of philanthropy. Any initiatives Chew Street does focus on impact as a core goal, the best way to help the most people.

Who is someone that you look up to that embraces empowerment and positivity?

C: My Dad. His work as a Pastor is really about getting out into the community and helping those that need it most. He was instrumental in launching an orphanage in South Africa, the Covenant Garden Estate. The model they used with project had empowerment at it's core. They partnered with the government as well as Chief Mathibe and the Bahwaduba Traditional Council to build something that changed the lives of abandoned children. Sesego Cares, an organisation of business leaders committed to sustainable philanthropy was also a partner. We are in completely different fields but I try to emulate him in all I do.

Tell us more about the recipe you chose for HFQ Volume / Why did you choose it for our ‘Empowerment’ box?

C: This quote from Nelson Mandela is a favourite of mine:

You know darling there is one respect in which I dwarf all my contemporaries or at least about which I can confidently claim to be second to none – healthy appetite.”
— Nelson Mandela

Many people don’t realize that South Africa’s culinary history is as rich and complex as its political one. After Nelson Mandela was elected black South Africans had improved access to food and, more importantly, the food and wine industry that was built on the back of unpaid or underpaid work started reforms that are still happening today. The demise of apartheid brought with it it several Black Economic Empowerment initiatives from the the African National Congress to transfer millions of acres of vineyards and farmland from white owners to black South Africans.

Some of the region’s best food is surprisingly simple and easy to prepare. Potbrood, a traditional bread, is prepared in an outdoor coal pit. No access to an outdoor coal pit? Don’t worry, I’ve adapted the traditional recipe so you can enjoy this dish at home.

How can we empower others through food in our daily lives?

C: I’m an adventurous eater and I love trying food all over the world. That being said, I think shopping and dining local, as often as you can is key. In Canada, we have great organizations like MealShare and FoodShare that work with the food industry to alleviate hunger. If you or someone you know is using their food business for social good, diversity or the environment let me know! The Chew Street community wants to hear from you.

What gives you hope that a Hunger Free world is possible?

C: The power of social media and websites such as Chew Street are uniting people in ways that were not possible just a few short years ago. People have also seen the power of giving people the tools to create sustainable change for themselves. It’s not a trend and it’s going to transform our world for generations to come.

Learn more about Charlene and share empowering stories and recipes that help to create positive social change at chewstreet.com!

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