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June 18, 2008 > Sweet giving

Sweet giving

By Justine Yan

One in six children in the United States does not have a reliable access to nutritious meals. Eighty percent of the low-income children who receive a subsidized school lunch do not have regular meals in the summer months. These children are prone to weaker immune systems, more stomachaches, hospitalizations, and impaired performance academically, athletically, and socially. Contrary to popular opinion, poor nutrition targets children from diverse racial backgrounds who may be lean or obese.

Lisa Ahmad, owner of Mirchi Cafe in Fremont, is one of thousands who have joined Share Our Strength, a national organization that "is designed to bridge the gaps between existing, effective programs and the families who need them."

Over the past 4 years, Share Our Strength has established numerous partnerships with existing local and global food programs, helped 17,000 low-income families learn to feed their families healthfully and cost-effectively, and engaged individuals and activist groups in multiple national campaigns, including the Great American Bake Sale.

"I'm always asking, 'What can I do to help?'" said Ahmad. Not long after learning about the Great American Bake Sale national campaign, she registered online as a participating restaurant. She plans to host her own Bake Sale on June 23 in front of Trader Joe's in Fremont. All proceeds will go directly toward local community projects aiming to end childhood hunger, and a portion of the money will be granted to organizations in other parts of the country.

For her restaurant, Ahmad strives to bring out the unique layers and flairs of both Italian and Pakistani foods. She is proud to offer a rich "fusion" of Indian, Asian, and American flavors, while using only the freshest ingredients. Still, Ahmad is looking to keep the upcoming bake sale simple. She has asked local businesses for donations of cookies, cakes, and cupcakes, while planning to express her love for baking.

"I love the restaurant business, but baking has always held an extra place in my heart," said Ahmad. Her grandmother was a baker, and from an early age, Ahmad was influenced by her passion for making birthday cakes and, eventually, her own wedding cake.

"We're all sitting here in this country, and we all have so much excess, and to think there are 12 million children in our country without enough to eat...I can't be comfortable with that," she said.

Ahmad aims to earn $1,000 from this bake sale. "I thought, being a business owner and being in this community...I'd challenge myself. And I'm hopeful that our community will stand up to the challenge."

Ahmad has developed a motto: "Giving is sweet!" As she continues publicizing the bake sale, spreading awareness for childhood hunger, creating new recipes or sticking to the old, and having fun in the process, she is sticking to that motto.

To donate to Share Our Strength, or to learn how you can get involved in the event, contact Lisa Ahmad at (510) 396-3942, or visit,

Great American Bake Sale
Monday, June 23
11 - 3 p.m.
Outside of Trader Joe's
39324 Argonaut Way, Fremont
(510) 396-3942

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