Dining

Carla Hall on Why Giving Back Is More Important than Ever

The chef and TV star devotes her time to helping others, and you can, too
Chef Carla Hall on the Importance of Giving Back
Photo: Courtesy of Carla Hall

When it comes to giving back, Carla Hall is about as close to a superhero as you can get. For her entire career, the chef and star of ABC's The Chew has made helping others a priority and is involved with more causes than we can even count.

Hall serves as a board member for the Pajama Program and GenYOUth, and actively works with DC Central Kitchen, the USO, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Feeding America and Women Chefs and Restaurateurs (WCR). She also serves on the advisory boards for the Edible Academy for the New York Botanical Garden and for the Food and Finance High School in New York City. Still, she says, "I never feel like I'm doing enough."

Although Hall says she'd like to take on more charitable opportunities, the best way to make an impact is to narrow her focus. She’s done that by honing in on topics familiar to her as a chef and positioning her charity efforts around food, food security and kids."I firmly believe that it should be a right, and not a privilege, to eat well,” Hall says. “I think it's the reason so many chefs get involved in food security, and it's something we're learning from the start of our careers."

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Giving back has always been vital to Hall, but she's found that her celebrity status on The Chew allows her to reach and educate people more than ever.

"Although I still find it hard to call myself a celebrity, I do have a much bigger platform now, both on social media and on television. I'm constantly asking myself how I can use my voice for the betterment of other people."

Over the last few years, Hall has fully embarked on these efforts. On a service trip to Mozambique in 2015, Hall joined chefs Cat Cora and Antonia Lofaso, as well as CARE chef ambassador Spike Mendelsohn, to help empower women to use food as a change agent.

"We worked with women in farming and fishing communities to make their efforts more fruitful, to help them feed their families, to stretch their earnings further and to make them leaders in their communities,” Hall says.

"One woman who had been in the program for a few years wanted to learn how to make more balanced meals for her children. That's not even a question she would have asked during the first year of the program, but now, it's important to her. It is, of course, the same concern we have about feeding children around the world. A woman is a woman is a woman."

Back in the U.S., Hall also finds it rewarding to work with seniors through AARP, helping to deliver Meals on Wheels.

"Some of these seniors are very isolated. Sometimes the only people they may see are the ones delivering their meals. It is about the food, but it's also about the human connection. They need you to come say hello, to know that you're thinking about them, to have something to look forward to."

In light of the recent tumultuous election, Hall encourages everyone to do what they can to give back, to focus on that human connection, and on touching someone's life in a personal way.

"As much as it feels like you don't have enough, somebody else has less," she says. "When you feel like you can't take another step in your own life, step into somebody else's shoes. Approach giving back from the standpoint of being grateful for what you do have and realize that lots of people are struggling. You can make things better by lending a helping hand."

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