Message from Our Founder
Welcome to the inaugural edition of our newsletter, InFocus. We hope you find it informative and a valued resource in the shared commitment of alleviating hunger in America.
This week’s InFocus gives you some background on how Focus Relief started while spotlights what others are doing to improve the hunger situation the homeless.
Focus Relief - Photography for Charity
Focus Relief has a simple mission: Using the art of photography as a means to alleviate hunger in America. As a photographer with more than 30 years of experience, we’re utilizing my personal catalog of images in our gallery to start us off. Prior to this initiative, however, I’ve never sold my photography. I would typically share it with friends and, when someone liked my work, would give it away.
Inspired by many of my friends who use their talents for the greater good, I struggled to find my calling. I knew I had something to give back, but it took something extraordinary to show me the way.
The video above tells the story of what opened my eyes to the possibilities of what I could do with a skill I already had. The question soon after became: When should I put it to use?
As someone with a full-time job, one kid in college, and 10 years or so away from retirement, no one would blame me if I waited some time to transition before launching a high-profile initiative. As a person that believes in a divine calling, however, my clock was ticking. The longer I wait, the greater the chance I might be too old or not have the energy required to do what I can do now. Yes, I had a lot on my plate, but as a mentor of mine once said, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.” So, I did. And so we are.
[Postscript Editor’s Note: When asked why Focus Relief’s efforts to alleviate hunger don’t go beyond the U.S., Founder Tarik Trad has two main reasons: One is that people can relate more to efforts at the local, grassroots level. “I was born and raised here. It only makes sense to help those here first.” Relatedly, there is a saying in his faith teachings: “He is not a believer whose stomach is filled while the neighbor to his side goes hungry.”]
Hunger: Not Impossible
I’m a big fan of filmmaker, entrepreneur and philanthropist Mick Ebeling’s Not Impossible Labs. Founded on the principle of technology for the sake of humanity, Not Impossible Labs is a one-of-a-kind, award-winning incubator dedicated to changing the world through technology and story.
Mick and his team found that homeless people – one of three of which is a U.S. military veteran – spend much of their time going from place to place trying to find food, limiting the time they can use to improve their situation. Food scarcity isn’t the issue but accessing a food source is.
In recognizing the absurdity of hunger and homelessness, Not Impossible Labs found that many don’t have the resources to access food, clothing or shelter but they do maintain a cellphone to stay connected to family and friends. However, many are too prideful to admit they have a hunger problem. Not Impossible Labs leveraged mobile technology to give homeless or food-insecure youth and veterans access to healthy, ready-to-eat meals through the creation of a smartphone app.
Here’s how easy it works:
Hungry participant enrolls in the HungerNotImpossible program through a local organization
Participant places a to-go food order using the app or through a text message
Participant is told where to pick up a meal of their choice – in a dignified manner – from a local restaurant
That’s it! If a person can’t make it to a food pantry or kitchen, they can find food that is close to them without feeling humiliated.
As an added benefit to society, themselves and those around them, when those less fortunate are fed, they don’t have to resort to illegal, immoral or humiliating behaviors just to eat. We feel that’s worthy of our attention.
Wishing you all a blessed Thanksgiving.
Founder, Focus Relief
Stories in the Fight Against Hunger
How Local Food Pantries, Meal Programs Fight Food Insecurity
Read how ‘Stock The Shelves’ Raised $250,000 to Help Combat Hunger in Northeast, Central Wisconsin.
Share a Photo, Gift a Meal through this St. Louis Startup's App
As many families prepare for the annual Thanksgiving feast, not everyone has the opportunity to sit down to a traditional meal on Thursday, or any other day of the week. The statistics about food insecurity — hunger — in our region are stark.
Column: This Thanksgiving, I will be mindful of others
As I prepare to host nearly 30 family members and loved ones for Thanksgiving, it is not difficult to think of many things for which I am grateful.
OUR PHOTO of the week
As a reminder, when you invest in our limited-edition, gallery-quality photos, 100 percent of our profits go toward community programs working to alleviate hunger in America.
Plus, free shipping on every order.