As part of his continuing efforts to bring awareness to the issue of hunger in America, Mario Batali has announced his new partnership with Cheeky, a Target-exclusive lifestyle brand that designs single-use tableware.
Every product purchased will help Cheeky donate a meal through Feeding America, the national hunger-relief organization, and in September, Cheeky will introduce a new orange paper plate, made especially for fans of the chef.
Batali, a celebrity partner of Feeding America, will also serve as Cheeky’s chief culinary ambassador. The Daily Meal spoke with Batali about what inspired him to join forces with Cheeky, and why the issue of hunger in America affects everyone.
As a prominent chef and restaurateur, you’ve had many opportunities to support different causes and charities. What it is it about this project that makes you want to collaborate with Cheeky?
I’ve championed hunger relief since I came to New York in ’93, and it remains a huge issue in the area and for our country at large. So when this opportunity to help end hunger came my way, I was immediately interested. Cheeky’s fun, bold, and colorful personality made it feel like a home run. After just 15 weeks in business, Cheeky has donated 1.5 million meals. That’s persuasive!
What do you wish more Americans knew about the problem of hunger in their own country?
What we know is that 49 million people in America don’t have dependable access to food — that’s one in six Americans. I find this statistic absolutely perplexing, and I imagine every other American would too. We’re one of the richest nations, yet people are still hungry? Hunger doesn’t just affect the homeless. It affects working families, seniors, and children, too.
Cheeky products have a young feel that appeals to millennials and young families. What is something that young people, who may be just starting to deal with their own finances and managing resources, can do to get involved in hunger relief?