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Yo, Claremont! Challah Back!

February 14, 2010

Erica Bellman
Yo, Claremont! Challah Back!

You're munching on a sweet, puffy cloud of carb-laden goodness. With each bite from the immense, yet surprisingly light, braided loaf, your smile widens. Thesis, what thesis? Hangover, what hangover?  At this moment, you are experiencing euphoria. Challah, the sweetened Jewish egg bread typically served on Jewish holidays, will instantly become your new favorite comfort food. Challah for Hunger is the 5C club that bakes and sells these magical loaves every week, feeding a consumer base that is growing like rising dough. What many challah-lovers don't know is that this club's baked treats not only fill the growling bellies of Claremont Colleges students, but also aid in the fight against global hunger. By donating half of all proceeds to the American Jewish World Service's Sudan Relief and Advocacy Fund and half to local charities like Uncommon Good, Challah for Hunger can claim to be the tastiest philanthropy group at the Claremont Colleges. Challah for Hunger is the brainchild of Scripps alumna Eli Winkelman. In 2004, Winkelman and her friends began baking challah for Shabbat dinners organized by Hillel of the Claremont Colleges. The group's products became so popular that they decided to start selling their goods to benefit genocide victims in Darfur, people for whom hunger is one of many threats faced daily. Challah for Hunger, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that now splits donations between AJWS relief in Sudan and local organizations, arose. The Scripps students's efforts soon inspired 30 additional chapters to form; Challah for Hunger is active on U.S. college campuses from Brooklyn to San Diego, and even thrives internationally in Australia and Montreal. At the Clinton Global Initiative in 2009, Bill Clinton commended Winkelman and Challah for Hunger for their efforts on national television.

Student volunteers from all five colleges now run the Claremont chapter of Challah for Hunger. Baking takes place every Thursday in Frary dining hall's kitchen. Fresh, golden loaves are sold on Fridays from around 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. (if supplies last that long!) at various locations throughout the 5C campuses. A complete schedule of times and locations is available on the Challah for Hunger website. Sales at CMC take place just outside Collins; be sure to purchase your challah as early as possible, especially if you're craving the coveted "mixed" challah.  Challah generally cost $4 and can be charged to your Claremont Cash (thanks, Mom and Dad!)-- a reasonable price given the charitable cause and the generous size of a single loaf.

Challah loaves are usually baked in three varieties: cinnamon sugar, chocolate chip, and a mixture of the two types. If you can't choose between the mellow cinnamon sugar and the gooey chocolate chip challah, try the "mixed" loaf for a delightful burst of flavors. For holidays and special events, Challah for Hunger sells loaves in exciting new flavors, such as the Valentine's Day limited-time offers of apple cinnamon, white chocolate, and chocolate peppermint crunch. For vegan challah patrons, egg-free loaves are sold at Scripps's Seal Court booth. If it is a savory snack rather than a sweet one that you crave, an insider source recently divulged plans to experiment with a salted challah loaf similar to the concept of a soft pretzel.

Rachel Hamburg, a senior at Pomona College, is the co-president of the organization's chapter in Claremont and a serious challah-lover. "What do I love about challah?" Hamburg mused, "I love the golden brown color. I love how soft and fluffy a loaf of challah is when broken in half. I love how it is a community food that you can share with friend...and even strangers!"

Special events, like Challah for Hunger's epic karaoke party in the fall, help to raise awareness about important global issues while bringing together like-minded students committed to social justice. "Care-oke" is scheduled to happen again later in the spring, in addition to an Earth Day documentary and a National Women's Day event. For Valentine's Day, "Challah-grams" were available for purchase; these mini-loaves with special notes attached are one of many ways that Challah for Hunger pairs delicious, fun treats with activism efforts.

Challah for Hunger is a 5C club that welcomes all volunteers willing to roll up their sleeves, don a hairnet in the Frary kitchen, and join in the fight for social justice in Sudan and in the Inland Empire. Uncommon Good, the mentoring program that many CMC students participate in, is one of many local charities to which Challah for Hunger donates profits. A plan to involve mentors and mentees in a "Bake Your Own Challah" event is in the works for this spring semester.

Ashley Scott ('11) is one of a few CMC students actively involved in the club. "We have relatively few volunteers at CMC," Scott said, "so it's hard to sell as much as we'd like to." If more CMC students became members of Challah for Hunger by helping to bake or sell, the organization would greatly benefit."  Since baking and selling are relaxing and fun activities, these are wonderful way to de-stress and contribute to a service group.

"Challah" at this incredible student club if you find yourself starving for social justice and a satisfying treat. With Challah for Hunger, you can knead, bake, sell, and snack your way to raising money and awareness for worthy causes.

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