Thank God for social networks, especially Instagram! With Instagram’s Explore feature it allows users of the app to search other users and hashtags. In searching hashtags you will be amazed in what you find from fashion, events, world news, food and more. Recently while scrolling through my timeline I discovered a post about #HashtagLunchbag. When I searched the hashtag I was amazed to see over 10K photos and videos appear from Chicago, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Washington, DC and many more locations all over the country in relation to it. The question I then asked myself is probably the same one you’re asking yourself right now – what is “Hashtag Lunchbag”?
“#HashtagLunchbag is a humanity service movement dedicated to creating fun environments to bring together diverse groups of compassionate people in local communities across the world to focus out and give back in local communities.”
HashtagLunchbag was started in Los Angeles on Christmas Day with a group of small friends; as process consisting of going to the grocery to purchase food, bagging balanced meals and distributing them into the community. In discovering the movement, I reached out to Ajay Relan, co-founder of HashtagLunchbag, to understand his reason for his endeavor. According to Relan, digital media has helped grow his small action of giving into more than he could imagined. Just a few days back on Instagram, business mogul Sean Combs, also known as Diddy, uploaded a photo of his three daughters participating in HashtagLunchbag efforts in LA. The efforts of this movement are caching people all over. In a phone interview Relan stated, “During a rough patch in my life, I was inspired by my friends when I decided to bag 100 lunches to give out on Christmas Day. Feedback was so positive; I did the same exact thing in January. Next thing I knew people from all over were reaching out to get involved. In reality, once a month giving is not enough but it is a start. HashtagLunchbag is not just about helping feed the homeless, but hunger and global issues of America. My goal is to just empower others to take the initiative in giving back.”
Recently, at CBS Station I sat with Sunni and the City, radio host for WPGC and HashtagLunchbag of Washington, D.C., and we had a great interview. Sunni is not just known for interviewing celebrities, hosting parties/concerts, and attending fabulous events but her acts of philanthropy. Check out our interview below:
What promoted you to join in on the HashtagLunchbag movement?
I’ve seen some friends from NYC doing it and I thought that it was such a great idea. Very simple process but it helps so many. I immediately called up Tiffanie Wagner and told her that we should start it here in DC – everything took off from there.
How do you see this movement helping to decrease the issue of hunger?
I think it’s just a small step in the right direction. All we can do is, try to do as much as possible. Feed as many people as we can, as often as possible. Once the ball starts rolling, it makes a huge impact on hunger before it brings it to the forefront and people start talking about it. Especially in DC because a lot of people from other places don’t believe that DC has a large homeless population.
Have you ever encountered an ungrateful homeless person when handing out lunch bags?
I have never encountered that person. But I think it’s all about how you approach them. You have to be compassionate and know that these are people just like us. I want them to feel that we’re giving them food because we’re their friends, not because we pity them. We don’t want them to feel less than. HashtagLunchbag is all about compassion and love.
How long have you been hosting Hashtag in the DC area?
We’ve been doing it monthly since August 2013.
Do you participate in any other food drives or charity events other than Hashtag?
I’ve done numerous things here in DC. But some of my favorite charities to work with are Covenant House Homeless Shelter, Capital Food Bank Stuff A Truck, Our WPGC Radiothon for Children’s National and Safe Shores DC Children’s Advocacy Center
What do you think about Hunger as a global issue around the world?
It saddens me because we see so much food being thrown away every single day. To know that so many people die every day because of hunger is heartbreaking. So many amazing organizations are doing a lot of great work around the world trying to fight hunger but I think we all can do a little bit more. Just like Hashtaglunchbag – start in your own back yard. If you can’t feed 100 people, feed just one. We all need to do our part.
One word to describe Hashtaglunchbag?
Inspiring? YES! Because it’s a movement. It’s not just a one-time thing, it goes on and on. More people are getting involved and it’s growing. If it inspires one person to give back that maybe has never given back before then we’re doing our job. It’s all about inspiring and encouraging others to help.
For more information please visit: http://www.hashtaglunchbag.com