The Proven Platter November 2016

Hello Diners!

I’ve got lots of good recipes coming your way this month. I thought I’d share with you a tradition that we have started with my group. Every year in either November or December, depending on what month we are meeting, we plan what we call our “holiday appetizer party.” Initially the idea was to bring a favorite appetizer, or bring an appetizer that you were thinking of trying out for the holidays. There is no better audience for feedback than our enthusiastic DFW members!

It has proved to be really successful and fun. There’s less emphasis on planning a meal and the meeting is a little more casual. We pretty much snack and talk and discuss the whole evening.

Of course, you can bring any type of appetizer you like. But I thought it would be fun, and in keeping with our world mission to plan an “Around the World Appetizer Party!”

I’ve culled some recipes from the archives, and I’ve also presented four new recipes in addition. I collaborated with my good friend and fellow DFW member, Alice Krause, who is renowned in the dessert category. No one would dare bring a dessert to our meeting if Alice was attending.

Alice has concocted a brilliant dessert tamale, with a chile-laced crème anglaise. It’s child’s play for Alice, but for most of us it can look like a daunting recipe. If you break it down and take it step by step though, and make parts of it ahead of time, you can lessen the burden of work. I hope there are at least a few of you who are up to this task, as it really is a lovely dessert.

Since the country we are supporting this month is Niger, I’ve made sure to include a recipe for that country. Check out the Peanut Chicken Skewers, a traditional snack found in street stalls everywhere. We’ve tried to cover the bases with some vegetarian options, different types of proteins and recipes for all skill levels.

Here’s the line-up:

New recipes this month:
Spice Crusted Sweet Potato WedgesAfrica
Easy SamosasIndia
Sweet Chocolate TamalesGuatemala
Shaking BeefVietnam

From the archives:
Mexican Shrimp Cocktail  Mexico
Afghan Eggplant Dip  Afghanistan
Peruvian Lime-Marinated Raw Fish  Peru
Nepalese Lentil Patties  Nepal
Lamb Flatbread Jordan
Peruvian Caramel Cookie Sandwiches Peru
Peanut Chicken Skewers Niger

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments at Have fun with the recipes this month!


Make Some Good News!

Did you know that YOU are MAKING good news?

Since 1990, extreme poverty has been reduced by 50 percent.  Take that in for a moment. Dining for Women has been here for 13 of those years – you are part of something big!  If you ever doubted that you are changing the world, doubt no more.

With the UN ambition to end extreme poverty by 2030, the UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon has been stressing the importance of funding the implementation plans to achieve these goals.  “Implementing the 2030 Agenda will strengthen our collective ability to address short-term risks and build long-term resilience,” he recently stated.

At DFW, we are 100 percent behind the UN Sustainable Development Goals and we, as members of DFW, are part of the larger movement to MOVE THAT NEEDLE on extreme poverty!

That is why in the next few weeks, you will receive a letter asking you to contribute to our 13th Month Annual Appeal in support of DFW’s mission to educate and engage people to collectively act on behalf of women and girls in the developing world.  Your gift WILL strengthen our ability to serve more girls and women and to strengthen the community of global citizens we have – which is growing all the time!

Our 13th Month Annual Appeal is the time of year when we ask all our members to make one additional donation to DFW. As we have in the past, we continue to rely on your 13th Month gifts to fully fund our important work each year. Monthly chapter donations do not sufficiently cover our four programs (Grants, Member Education and Engagement, Grassroots Advocacy, and Partnerships) as well as the administrative expenses that are critically important to the strength and sustainability of our organization. Your gift will allow us to fund our grants, conduct rigorous screening, vetting and monitoring of our grantees, provide educational materials that foster informed global citizens, launch our grassroots advocacy program, expand our number of chapters, and ultimately help even more women and girls.

As a result of your generous gifts last year, we were able to accomplish a great deal toward our 2020 Vision, including an exciting partnership with the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Program, the establishment of volunteer committees for Grassroots Advocacy and Diversity, and many initiatives that are laying the foundation for significant growth in the number of DFW chapters across the U.S.

Our Grants Program connected members with organizations producing outstanding results. (Have you seen Breeze of Hope’s Google Hangout? What an inspiring organization!) We also determined this year that, since our inception, we have educated 28,000 people about global issues affecting women and girls and, conversely, how women and girls can affect global issues.  This exciting statistic secures DFW as the largest educational giving circle in the world and with untold impact beyond our chapter meetings.

The goal of this year’s annual appeal is $360,000, and we are already well on our way!  To date, we have raised approximately $55,000 toward our goal, and excitement is building with fundraisers planned by many of our chapters over the next few months.

Marsha Wallace, DFW Co-Founder, points out that “last year 2,011 members (25 percent) generously participated in the 13th Month Annual Appeal. This year, we are aiming for 100 percent of members making one additional gift, at whatever level they are able. The DFW Board of Directors continues to be a 100 percent giving board, and our staff is 100 percent giving as well. Whether it is $5 or $5,000.  Every gift counts.”

That is what we ask now.  Will you please participate in this important appeal to help us reach our goal of $360,000?  We thank the generosity of those who have donated $55,000 already! If everyone can participate at a level that is generous for them – whether that is $5 or $5,000, we WILL be a big part of bringing extreme poverty down another 50 percent.

Let’s make some MORE GOOD NEWS together!



Sub-Saharan Africa and the Sustainable Development Goals

Recently, Dining for Women’s Board reaffirmed our commitment to the UN-mandated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In the next nine months, a number of DFW featured grantees are from the Sub-Saharan Region of Africa. This offers DFW members the opportunity to learn about individual challenges faced by individual countries and communities in the vast region. This blog provides an overview of Sub-Saharan Africa in the context of the UN’s SDGs.

Sub-Saharan Africa is comprised of the 48 countries geographically located below the Sahara Desert and distinguished from the Northern African countries that are part of the Arab World.  This beautiful region that makes up the bulk of the African continent consists of deserts, Sahel, savanna, swamps, rainforests, plateaus, mountains, rivers and lakes and enormous diversity in flora and fauna that has shaped human evolution in our geological past.

Today, the region has a combined population of close to 1 billion (the lowest population density of all the major continents) with hundreds of ethnic groups and close to 1,000 languages. The socio-political, economic, and human development landscape of this region is very diverse with considerable variability within countries. Agriculture is still a major occupation for most people in the region but since 1940, occupations have diversified with considerable migration to rapidly-changing urban areas. The average human lifespan for the region as a whole is only 58 years and several countries in Sub-Saharan Africa struggle to make progress on health and economic indicators.

The 17 SDGs adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015 are an unprecedented opportunity for countries and citizens of the world to forge pathways to improve the lives of all people everywhere and to combat climate change by 2030. According to the Overseas Development Institute, as we project progress of Sub-Saharan Africa towards the SDG Agenda of 2030, several key points are worth noting. For several of the SDG goals and targets, low starting points and inequality that exists between countries and within countries makes reaching these goals difficult by 2030. This region has 40 percent of its population who live in extreme poverty with a rate of undernourishment of 23 percent. There have been declines in poverty and undernourishment in the past decade but much more remains to be done. Large gains have been achieved in youth literacy and primary education, but poverty, armed conflict, child marriage and gender discrimination continue to be barriers for secondary and tertiary education, especially for girls.

Women’s access to paid employment is the most impressive progress in Sub-Saharan Africa and women continue to gain power in politics especially in Rwanda. There has been remarkable progress in bringing down the absolute rates of Maternal Mortality from a high of 990 per 100,000 in 1990 to 510 in 2013. Similarly, Child Mortality has seen huge declines from 179 per 1,000 in 1990 to 86 in 2013. It is notable that some of these declines have occurred in low-income countries like Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. Challenges remain to bring down these rates further, but experts in the field are heartened by the fact that low income in these countries is not a barrier to saving the lives of mothers and children.

For a region that has been hit the hardest during the HIV epidemic, the rate of new infections have been dropping steadily and the availability of anti-retroviral therapy since 1995 has averted at least 4.8 million HIV-related deaths. Challenges remain in the region where only a third of those between the ages of 15-24 have a comprehensive understanding about HIV.

A major focus of the SDGs is the impact of rising temperatures, rising sea levels, changing rainfall patterns, and the impact of weather-related disasters on health, water supply and sanitation, agriculture and food security, forestry and fisheries, energy, industry and trade. The impact of these macro indicators can be very severe on vulnerable communities such as those living in poverty in rural and urban areas, subsistence farming communities, and pastoral and nomadic communities that rely on the animals they herd for sustenance. The Sub-Saharan region has 50 million pastoralists who live in arid and semi-arid regions. In most vulnerable communities, women play key roles in managing the natural resources in their environment and, as such, are more impacted by climate change and its rippling effects.

According to the Overseas Development Institute, based on current trends with reference to the SDGs, Sub-Saharan Africa’s progress towards economic growth and domestic resource mobilization looks promising. Ending extreme poverty, reducing maternal mortality and access to energy require a redoubling of efforts. On the goals of reducing slum populations, reducing waste, reducing violent deaths, marine conservation and combatting climate change, trends in the region are headed in the wrong direction. Progress on these goals will require innovative solutions and strong efforts.

A vast region like Sub-Saharan Africa comprising of 48 different countries each with their own political systems, natural resources and political will to effect change collectively face challenges to reach their individual SDG goals and targets by 2030. DFW’s collaboration with grassroots efforts to bring about change in their communities is a drop in the bucket, but together we are part of that pathway to change.



Collins, Robert O. and Burns, M. (2007). A history of Sub-Saharan Africa. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Mulinge, M.M. (2013). Climate Change: The Challenge of the 21st Century. In Mulinge, M.M & Getu, M. (Eds.), Climate Change and Variability on Pastorilist Women in Sub-Saharan Africa. Kampla: Fountain Publishers.

Nicolai, S., Hoy, C., Bhatkal, T., and Aedy, T. (2016). Projecting progress: The SDGs in sub-Saharan Africa. London: Overseas Development Institute.

United Nations. (2015). The Millennium Development Goals Report 2015: Regional Backgrounder Sub Saharan Africa.



The Proven Platter – Mali

Hello Diners!

We are off to Mali this month, located in West Africa, in support of the Tandana Foundation. Their Women LEAP program provides literacy and numeracy training, as well as democratic governance and leadership skills.

Often, the program we are supporting will send us recipes that are rooted in their culture. This month we received a very detailed recipe called “Recipe for Toh, (Oro Dja), Traditional Food of the Dogon People,” by Jemima Tembiné. She started learning to cook when she was about 10 years old and has been preparing Toh since she was 15 years old. Near as I can tell, Toh is a dish of millet dough that has been pounded, and served along with different sauces made out of various leaves, dried fish and dried vegetables.

Because I want to give you an idea of what women often have to go through just to prepare ONE meal, I am including the link to the recipe so that you can see for yourselves how much of their day is spent just surviving. For starters, prep time is listed at 2 – 3 hours, and it makes just one family meal. Your head will start to spin after you’ve read the first paragraph.

Instructions such as “pound millet seed in husk in a large mortar and wood pistil until the husk comes off, pour into a large calabash bowl, pour into another bowl so the wind will take the chaff away,” is just one of many, many, pounding instructions throughout the recipe.

I think it’s easy to understand why nobody has time for school, or anything that doesn’t involve feeding yourself and keeping yourself warm.

Absolutely nothing gets wasted. Water from drained millet is fed to the goats. The ashes from cooking fires are recycled as well. Most of the ash goes into the animal compost that eventually goes into the fields. Some is put in the bags of grain that are stored on the roof or in the house to help conserve it and keep insects out. And some is used to make potassium to add to their food.

No worries though, I am not asking you to make Toh or pound anything this month! I am just sending you to the grocery store to pick up a lovely piece of fish, grab a can of coconut milk to make a sauce, (or heck, now that you know how easy you have it in the kitchen, make your own coconut milk), and have a lovely fish dinner on the table in under half an hour!

I’ve taken my inspiration from a wonderful cookbook called “Zainabu’s African Cookbook,” by Zainabu Kpaka Kallon. She was born and raised in Sierra Leone, West Africa. (No, she did not have a recipe for Toh in her book – I looked!)

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments about the recipes at I would love to hear from you!


Tilapia in Coconut Lime Sauce (Tested)

Serves 6

Tilapia, or “ngokah,” is also referred to as “Nile perch” because it is abundant all along the Nile River region. Now that California aqua farmers are successfully raising this delicate perch-like fish, we can find it in our supermarkets, bringing this once “only in Africa” fish to our dinner tables. If perch is available in your area you can substitute perch for the tilapia. Other worthy stand-ins are red snapper or cod, or any white fish that you enjoy.

Note that this recipe calls for either fresh hot pepper or green sriracha sauce and that these ingredients are added at different times in the recipe.

2 tbsp. peanut oil or vegetable oil

1 small onion, chopped, about 1 cup

2 large cloves garlic, sliced

One (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and slivered

1 fresh hot pepper, chopped, or 2 tsp. green sriracha sauce

2 cups sliced mushrooms, about 6 oz.

14 oz. coconut milk, canned or homemade

1 lime

1 tsp. kosher salt

2 lbs. tilapia

2 green onions, chopped (white and green parts)

Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish


Heat a skillet large enough to contain all the fish and coconut milk. Add the oil to the skillet along with the onion. Sauté for 2 minutes until slightly softened, then add the garlic, ginger, and hot pepper, if using. Cook for one minute.

Add the mushrooms and stir for one minute. Cover the pan and let the mushrooms steam for a few minutes. Remove the lid and let the mushrooms finish cooking.

Add the coconut milk. Using a zester or grater, grate the lime peel right over the pan, then cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice into the pan. Add the green sriracha, if using, and the salt. Bring the sauce to a simmer.

Lay the fish in the sauce, and sprinkle with the green onions. Cover, and simmer until fish is done. This could take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fish. Remove the fish to a platter and reduce the sauce if it looks thin and you would like it to thicken. Pour sauce over the fish and garnish with parsley.

Recipe adapted from: “Zainabu’s African Cookbook,” by Zainabu Kpaka Kallon

Photo credit: Linda McElroy


DFW Achieves Platinum Status on GuideStar

Donors and volunteers can find many sources of information on nonprofit organizations. Two of the most well-known resources are GuideStar and Charity Navigator, both of which are 501(c)3 organizations. Since I have been with Dining for Women, many members have asked me about DFW’s status on GuideStar and Charity Navigator, and I want to give you an update.

We are so excited that, after two years of working on foundational aspects of Dining for Women, we have achieved Platinum Status at GuideStar!

GuideStar is the world’s largest source of information on nonprofit organizations. It provides information about a nonprofit’s mission, legitimacy, impact, reputation, finances, programs, transparency, governance, and so much more.

Platinum is the newest and highest level of recognition offered by GuideStar. Achieving Platinum Status means that DFW demonstrates that we are focused on measuring progress and results, shows results year over year, and provides a concrete alternative to donors evaluating DFW on our overhead ratio.

Go HERE to see our GuideStar profile.

Charity Navigator is the nation’s largest and most-utilized evaluator of nonprofits. Charity Navigator’s rating system examines two broad areas of a nonprofit’s performance: their financial health and their accountability and transparency.  It measures financial performance in seven key areas that assess an organization’s financial efficiency and financial capacity. To evaluate transparency and accountability, Charity Navigator scores an organization on seventeen metrics that assess whether it follows best practices of governance and ethics, and whether it makes it easy for donors to find critical information about the organization.

Charity Navigator does not evaluate every nonprofit. DFW is currently not rated by Charity Navigator, but we want to be! It is possible, however, to ASK to be evaluated and we would like you, our members, to help make this happen. Here’s how:

  1. Go HERE to see our Charity Navigator profile.
  2. Click on the upper right button that says “VOTE for this charity to be rated”.
  3. You will then be asked to register in order to vote. Please register and make your vote count!

Another popular organization to review a nonprofit organization is Great Nonprofits.  This is a service that takes donor and volunteer reviews of an organization and posts them – just like Amazon!  Dining for Women has about 30 reviews, but we would welcome more!  Please go to Great Nonprofits and write what you love about Dining for Women!

This is an exciting time for us and I am so glad that you are a part of DFW at this point in our history!


Preparing Girls for the Future with STEM and Entrepreneurial Projects

DFW’s $100,000 grant to the Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn Fund in support of girls’ education will fund four anchor activities – all of which help girls by removing social and structural barriers that prevent access to education. Over the last few months, we have discussed two of them: GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) Camps and Clubs and Men as Partners (MAP) projects. This month, our focus is on two additional activities: STEM Projects for Girls as well as Business and Entrepreneurial Training for Girls.

Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education is critical to creating a ready, qualified workforce around the globe, and girls must be part of that future. The goal of STEM Projects for Girls is to inspire girls to pursue careers in these fields. Activities teach them the value of science, enhance their education in STEM and equip them with the tools they need to share that knowledge in their communities.

STEM Projects for Girls are targeted to the needs of different locales and may include activities such as these:

  • – Camp Scientifille is a youth camp specifically designed to promote a love of science in young girls. Girls learn the value of science through hands-on experiments and sessions. Through the camps and development of follow-up science clubs in home communities, the goal is also to inspire girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
  • – Let Girls Learn Hackathons are collaborations between students, Peace Corps Volunteers, university students in STEM fields and software developers who brainstorm and develop innovative solutions to overcome local barriers to female education. These solutions utilize technology, software and websites. Participating girls receive ongoing support for implementing the solutions generated at Hackathons.
  • – Math and science conferences address factors that contribute to poor math and science scores and the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields. These conferences inform teachers about using hands-on techniques in the classroom, expose students to new topics and encourage them to pursue further education in the sciences.

Business and Entrepreneurial Training for Girls, much like STEM projects, may take the form of camps, clubs, competitions, seminars or workshops. Participants leave these experiences with enhanced business skills, increased confidence, an understanding of the creative process necessary to be an entrepreneur and a better understanding of how they can uniquely contribute to their community and its economy.

Business professionals and Peace Corps Volunteers facilitate sessions and projects tailored to the needs of local communities. Projects such as these include:

  • – A National Youth Business Plan Training and Competition, held in Benin, is designed to ensure that young people have the skills necessary to create their own enterprises. In particular, this initiative provides females, who are frequently excluded from entrepreneurship training, an opportunity to present and use their skills. Participants create and then compete with their own business plans, with the chance to win prize money to help start their business.
  • – Village to City projects, like the one funded by DFW in Mongolia, equip the brightest and most ambitious students with the necessary knowledge to become future leaders. Exposure to female leaders empowers female students to see and internalize the possibility of becoming leaders in their communities. Students travel from rural villages to commercial companies to engage in discussions with company leaders. They also participate in workshops to develop professionalism, networking, goal setting, decision making and action planning skills. By the end of the week, students have successfully begun creating their own professional network. Students then work with adult supervisors to create a presentation to take back to their respective communities. They show everyone that, while they may be from a small village, they have the world within their reach.

Sharing Best Practices: Annual Appeal is Coming Soon!

It’s almost time for our 13th Month Annual Appeal, and many chapters are already getting geared up and pumped up!  There are many ways that you can bring your chapter members together to support DFW while having some fun along the way.

Chapter Fundraisers
Last year, we raised close to $38,000 from more than 50 chapter fundraisers.  If your chapter is considering a fundraiser for the 13th Month Annual Appeal, be sure to check out our Chapter Fundraising Guidelines and complete the online Fundraiser Approval Form before you get started.

Don’t feel like you have to come up with a new and original fundraising idea.  There are lots of simple, tried and true fundraisers that our chapters have done over the years. Here are just a few:

  • Community Shopping Events at Ten Thousand Villages – Contact your local store about having a fun night of shopping, with a percentage of sales being donated to DFW. If you don’t have a Ten Thousand Villages store in your community, try approaching another local vendor that supports women and girls.
  • Yard/Consignment Sales– Yard sales, consignment sales, clothing exchanges or “white elephant” sales can be very successful fundraisers. These can be done on a small scale at one home, or a larger event in partnership with another organization.
  • BeadforLife Marketplace – Last year, at least 15 of our chapters partnered with BeadforLife, a former DFW grantee, to host a marketplace at one of their chapter meetings. Funds raised helped women in Uganda with 20% of sales donated to DFW’s 13th Month annual appeal. Visit here for more information.
  • Whole Foods – Our Elkins Park, PA chapter has partnered with its local Whole Foods store on several fundraisers, including a community dinner and “Nickels for Nonprofits”. Contact your local store to see what you can do in your area.
  • Movie screenings – There have been some great films in recent years about the challenges facing women and girls (e.g. He Named Me Malala, Girl Rising, I am a Girl). Several of our chapters have organized special screenings in their community as fundraisers for DFW.
  • Arts and crafts sale/market – This is a great idea if your chapter is crafty but, if not, you can reach out to local artists. The CA, San Jose-2 chapter has held several successful craft markets over the years.
  • Holiday gift wrapping – Many local malls or stores have a program that allows nonprofits to raise funds by doing gift wrapping for their customers. The Grand Rapids, MI chapter did this at its local Barnes and Noble – check out your local Barnes and Noble to see if they offer this.

If a fundraiser is not your bag, there are other ways for you and your chapter to support our annual appeal:

  • – Demonstrate your support by making your own donation to the campaign early on and then asking your members to contribute as well.
  • – Designate a “13th Month Champion” for your chapter – someone who can talk about the 13th Month at each meeting and encourage member participation.
  • – Ask your members to sign up for monthly recurring donations to ensure DFW has a stable source of income year-round. Make it easy by having copies of the Automatic Withdrawal Form to hand out at meetings.
  • – Encourage your members to use our Amazon affiliates link when they make Amazon purchases. DFW receives anywhere from 5-10 percent of your purchase price when you buy through this link. (Please note: this is not the same as Amazon Smile, which returns a smaller donation to DFW.)

Whatever your chapter chooses to do, tell us all about it by emailing, and if you decide to do a fundraiser, be sure to complete the Fundraiser Approval Form well ahead of time.


The Proven Platter – Bolivia

Hello Diners!

This month we get to travel somewhere new, Cochabamba, Bolivia. And we are making one of Bolivia’s most beloved dishes, “Pique Macho.”

Bolivians consider Pique Macho the world’s greatest expression of meat and potatoes!

The dish is a sultry combination of perfectly seasoned beef cubes and sliced hotdogs. It is served over a bed of crispy potato fries and finished with julienned vegetables and multiple garnishes. Hot sauce is an integral part of this dish. Bolivians use a fiery hot sauce that they make from their local locoto peppers, but you can use your own favorite hot sauce.

But wait, how did this dish become so popular? Urban legend has it that late one evening, a group of hungry (and drunken!) workers arrived at a local restaurant just as it was closing. Upon being told there was nothing left to eat, the ravenous men insisted that they would eat anything. So the owners (Honorato Quinones and his wife, Evangelina Gomez Quinones) set about chopping whatever ingredients remained from the evening, then they piled everything high on a bed of fried potatoes. They included copious amounts of hot sauce in the layers, supposedly to help the patrons with their drunkenness. There was enough food to feed an army, and as the owners dropped the platter off at the table Evangelina said, “Piquen si son machos” which means “eat it if you think you’re man enough!” Thus, the Pique Macho was created by the owners of Restaurante Miraflores in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Go there if you are ever in the area, and bring your appetite!

I’ll admit I did a little happy dance when I saw the list of ingredients, but here are some options for “classing” things up a bit, just in case hotdogs and French fries aren’t your thing. You could always substitute sausage links for the hotdogs, maybe chorizo? As for the potatoes, I might suggest Tater Tots, since they are easy to bake, fun to eat, and stay crispy longer. Or perhaps you’d prefer new potatoes, quartered, and roasted in the oven with just a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Do make sure you include ketchup and mayonnaise on the side, as they really help to bring the whole mess together.

At first I thought this recipe might be too weird to include here. But, in fact, this dish really is not so different from our nachos. Think about layers of chips, covered with melted cheese and all manner of toppings, including meats and vegetables, served on large platters to hungry diners (often drunk!) and well, you can see the similarities, can’t you?

I think this recipe lends itself well to serving at a potluck. You can divide and conquer the list of ingredients and work by assigning different parts of the recipe to others. Then you can set out all the separate bowls of ingredients and serve buffet style. Everyone can then build their own Pique Macho!

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments about the recipes. I’d be happy to hear from you.

Buen Provecho!

Pique Macho (Tested)

Serves 4 to 6

This dish is as fun as it is deliciously interesting. The parts of the dish can be separately prepared and presented buffet style in separate platters, bowls, and serving containers, and your guests can build their own platefuls of their favorite combinations and garnishes. Generally, a bottom layer of potatoes is first topped with a scoop of the meat topping, ideally with a spoonful of the meat juices included. A layer of salad is then added, and on top of the salad, the garnishes are applied, including ketchup and mayonnaise, which really help to bring the whole mess together, and the all-important hot sauce.

For the meat ingredient, any tender lean beef will do. I used sirloin steak tips from Trader Joe’s and they were perfect. Although the hotdogs I used were great in this dish, you could class things up a bit by substituting sausage links. Use beer as the liquid in the meat topping if you would enjoy drinking the rest of it while you finish preparing your ingredients, or you can just add water if you’d rather not have leftover beer (never a problem in my house). For the French fries, you can substitute Tater Tots, which stay crispy longer than French fries, or new potatoes, quartered and roasted in the oven with just a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. My choice of beverage here would be an icy cold beer, served in chilled glasses.


Meat Topping


4 uncured beef hotdogs, sliced on a sharp diagonal (about 8 oz.)

1 lb. beef, such as sirloin steak, cut into bite-size cubes

1 clove garlic, smashed



Pinch of ground cumin

½ cup beer or water


Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the hotdog slices and brown on one side. You should not need to add oil as the hotdogs will release some fat. Turn and brown the other side, remove from the pan, and set aside.

There should be a film of oil left in the pan, but if not add a drizzle of oil to the pan and heat. Add the beef cubes and the garlic, browning the meat on one side. Turn and brown the other side. Season aggressively with salt and pepper, and add the ground cumin. This browning process should take anywhere from 4 to 5 minutes, depending on the level of heat.

Stir the hotdogs back into the pan. Add the beer. Reduce the liquid over the heat for just a minute; you will want some juices left in the pan to keep everything moist. Pour the meat and the juices into a serving bowl.




1 large tomato, sliced in thin wedges, or 1 cup cherry tomato halves

1 small red onion, sliced very thin (3.5 oz. or 1 cup)

½ of a large red or green pepper, sliced very thin (about 3 oz.)

1 tbsp. cider vinegar

1 tbsp. vegetable oil



Mix the tomato, onion, and peppers with the vinegar and oil; add salt to taste. Place in a separate serving bowl.



1 (24-oz.) bag of frozen French fries

Bake according to the directions on the bag. Slide onto a platter to serve.



Hard-boiled eggs, cut into wedges

1 jalapeno pepper, sliced very thinly in rounds (optional)



Hot Sauce

Place each garnish in separate container for serving


Serve ingredients separately and ask guests to serve themselves.


Recipe adapted from:

Photo credit: Linda McElroy

diversity word cloud

Beyond Dining – Diversity and DFW

By Denise Woods, Chair of the DFW Diversity Committee and Beth Ellen Holimon, President

Dining for Women was founded on a culture of inclusion and the belief that all women and girls matter. With racial justice in the headlines of American newspapers on a daily basis, we want to take this opportunity to engage our members in a conversation about diversity and unity at DFW.

DFW stands for equity, justice and compassion for all women and girls living in extreme poverty in developing countries. The women and girls we serve represent diverse races and ethnicities from around our world. We recognize that DFW’s board, staff, volunteers and members overwhelmingly do not look like the women and girls we champion.  While this does not describe every DFW member, it is safe to say that we are largely a homogenous group of white women of a certain age, education, and income level. We need to determine the reason for this and, more importantly, what we can do about it (see below).

Why is this even a problem? We believe that to truly empower women and girls living in poverty, we must recognize the power relationships and the power differential between citizens in “developed nations” and “developing nations.” We must foster understanding internally within our own organization, even as we seek to create bridges outside of our organization.

In addition, we know that diverse voices are essential for making innovative strategic decisions as an organization and for achieving our bold 2020 Vision.  As we developed our 2020 Vision, we listened to the many voices of our members and committed to addressing the long-recognized issue of diversity at DFW.  Barb Collins, Board Chair and Co-Founder, stated: “The board is unanimous in the need to broaden our demographics, transcending boundaries of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, and ability. This is why diversity is singled out as a strategic priority in the 2020 Vision.”

DFW is addressing this with a multi-pronged effort including:

  1. A Diversity Committee has been established to ensure that our commitment to diversity is clear and to develop and implement a plan for embracing inclusion in all areas of DFW.  The committee’s mission and purpose is currently being developed and will include examining DFW as a system in order to determine what visible and invisible barriers exist and to ensure that everyone feels welcome and empowered within DFW.
  2. At the board level, we are in the process of identifying an individual to serve in a new Grantee Stakeholder position. This will help ensure that our board is more representative of the women and girls we serve.
  3. We are also seeking individuals – with diverse backgrounds – to serve in advisory capacities on the Grants and Partnerships Oversight Committee and the newly-created Panel of Experts.

Even as we begin to determine how to embrace diversity, we will be asking these questions through our Diversity Committee:

  1. What does a vital, healthy DFW look like through the lens of diversity and full inclusion? What does it feel like? How will we know it?
  2. How do we equip our volunteer leadership to foster the growth of diversity in all our chapters? What knowledge, skills, and new behaviors do volunteer leaders need to embrace in order to move into this next stage of DFW’s development?
  3. What is the role of DFW’s home office in building capacity to grow vital, healthy, diverse chapters that are fully inclusive?
  4. What does DFW need to do to dismantle unconscious bias or assumptions operating within the organization? This includes, but is not limited to, examining what messages our website and all our communications send to our members and visitors.

As we explore this path of unity and excellence we need your voice to join the choir. You can do this by applying to become a member of our new Diversity Committee.  And while we welcome all women and gender identities to apply, we are specifically seeking women of color whose voices are valued and vitally needed. Please help write the lyrics by applying here now. The application deadline is August 15th.  Apply HERE.


Let Girls Learn Grant Teaches Men & Boys about Gender Equality

Last month, we updated you about DFW’s $100,000 commitment to the Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn Fund in support of girls’ education. The Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Program helps adolescent girls around the world complete their education by removing the social and structural barriers that many girls face in accessing an education. We also provided information on GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) Camps and Clubs, one of the approved projects that will be funded through the DFW grant.

Our grant will also fund Men as Partners (MAP) projects, STEM Projects for Girls, and Business and Entrepreneurial Training for Girls. This month we discuss MAP projects.

Teaching men and boys about gender equality is an important component of Let Girls Learn and its goal of advancing educational opportunities for girls.  It is also important in shifting attitudes so that men become advocates for gender equality.

MAP projects include a variety of events and may take the form of week-long camps for boys, workshops and seminars for adult men motivated to learn about gender equality, or classroom trainings about specific issues, depending upon the needs of each community. Men are trained by local expert facilitators (health professionals, teachers, business people, etc.) on building alliances, empowering women and embracing gender-based discourse. Projects depend heavily on open dialogue and group discussions, but they may also include other activities such as field trips, skits, soccer and expression through dance.

One of the MAP projects is Boys Respecting Others (BRO) Camps and Clubs that teach young men about gender-related topics rarely addressed in schools. Inspired by GLOW Camps and Clubs, BRO camps and clubs focus on uniquely male issues and build the skills and capacity of young men to think critically about gender, sex and sexuality.

In BRO Camps and Clubs, boys learn about male identity, gender equality, expressing their emotions, self-esteem, communication, peer pressure and more, in addition to addressing topics such as malaria, HIV/Aids, substance abuse and nutrition. Through discussion groups and hands-on activities, boys focus on leadership skills, healthy lifestyle habits and the importance of gender equality. In some camps, boys from diverse backgrounds learn from each other and forge new friendships that cross cultural lines. Camps are designed to be fun, supportive, safe spaces. Each camp has activities and content tailored to the needs of the community in which it is held.

In many instances, participating Peace Corps volunteers host a regular boys club in their community, and BRO Camps were designed to complement those clubs. As with GLOW Camps and Clubs, boys who participate in BRO Camps bring enthusiasm, knowledge and skills developed at camp back to their local communities through the club programs, furthering the advancement of gender equality.

Each MAP project, whether a BRO Camp or a shorter workshop, aims to provide a gender lens through which men and boys can assess their own lives, by creating a safe space for participants to ask questions, share stories, and gain knowledge about various behavior changes proven to bolster gender equality – all of which support cultural shifts that further the ability of girls to attend school and stand on equal ground with their male peers.


The Proven Platter – India

Hello Diners!

Welcome to India. We’ve traveled there before. Flavors from exotic spices perfume every dish.  Garlic, ginger and chiles add heat. If you love Indian food but are intimidated by long lists of ingredients and techniques, well, I’ve got your back. I’ve taken my inspiration for our recipes this month from “Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick & Easy Indian Cooking” and “Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking.” Both of these books are devoted to recipes in the under 30 minutes or less category. You’ll need to purchase some spices (the bulk spice aisle is your friend here), but other than that most of the ingredients are commonly found.

I first prepared and planned this menu nearly 15 years ago for our annual block progressive dinner party. It was so memorable people still talk about that dinner from long ago. I thought it was about time for a repeat and I’m excited to share these recipes with you. Baked Chicken Breasts with Tomato and Cream, Turmeric Rice, and Green Beans with Garlic and Mustard Seed form the structure of the meal. I’ve also included a recipe for Mango Iced Tea. It’s refreshing on a hot summer day, and I daresay could benefit from a splash of rum if you were so inclined.

But you’ll perhaps want other dishes to round out the meal. You could purchase samosas for an easy appetizer. Indian breads like naan are readily available in most stores now, or see a recipe previously posted on our site for Naan. You’ll find recipes for many other dishes on our website, as well as ideas for dessert. I’d recommend a simple one like purchased mango ice cream since it’s August and it’s hot!

View this month’s Proven Platter recipes.

View all recipes from India.

Please feel free to contact me at if you have any questions or comments on these recipes. I’d love to hear from you!

The 2015 Camp GLOW/Bro in Volta, Ghana which was held during the week of August 24, 2015. 

Quick processing for the Let Girls Learn Campaign - NOT OFFICIAL CAPTION

DFW Funds GLOW Camps to Inspire Girls

In March, Dining for Women announced its $100,000 commitment to the Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn Fund in support of girls’ education and empowerment. This grant will be used by Peace Corps Volunteers in developing countries around the world to fund grassroots, community-led projects that address barriers to girls’ education and improve the quality of that education. There are four types of projects that are eligible for DFW funds: the first is GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) Camps and Clubs – a proven model for inspiring girls to change their world.

Peace Corps Volunteers organize and lead GLOW Camps and Clubs to promote gender equality and empower young women. Camps range from day-long sessions to week-long overnight programs. They create a safe and supportive environment for learning, cultural exchange, individuality, creativity, leadership development and fun. Peace Corps Volunteers work with community leaders to design GLOW camps that reflect the unique characteristics and diversity of the local area.

The GLOW Camp program encourages self-confidence, challenges campers to think beyond traditional gender roles, and addresses the unique societal and health issues girls and women face. Specialized curriculum and learning experiences culminate in a planning session for girls’ goals and future careers. As an extension of GLOW camps, GLOW Clubs incorporate lessons in self-esteem and leadership into reoccurring activities to sustain the development of adolescent girls over the long-term.

“I don’t know if the community recognizes the impact of girls’ education,” a Ghana Camp GLOW Volunteer said. “When you look at it from a societal view, if only one gender is really shining, then the whole community or the whole society will not succeed. In order for a nation to thrive, you need both genders to be powerful, and you need both of them to be able to think independently, to work together in unity. That’s why all of the great programs within Peace Corps that promote girls’ empowerment and girls’ education are so important. The GLOW Camp is a fantastic camp that brings girls together and gives them the self-esteem and self-motivation to say, ‘Yes, I can do this. Yes, I will keep doing this.’”

But the impact doesn’t stop once the campers head home. A crucial element to a successful GLOW camp is encouraging the girls to return to their towns and pass on their knowledge to their peers. The skills and ideas presented at the camp can be disseminated to a much larger number of young people if each girl makes an effort to share her experience. For example, since a GLOW camp held in July 2015 for girls from the Lake Alaotra region of Madagascar, several of the girls have done presentations in their communities and Volunteers are currently developing plans to begin a weekly youth club led by the GLOW participants. This practice of sustainable peer education is the most valuable aspect of a GLOW camp, and Volunteers hope to see the impact grow in the coming months as the girls relive the exciting experiences from their week of camp.

“Education is important because it can help us to be prosperous, so that we can become a developed country one day. I have learned a lot of things at the GLOW Camp, like how to prevent malaria and how to educate a Camp GLOW in the Volta region of Ghana. The GLOW Camp was here to educate girls, especially the girls, and to show how a girl can become a leader. If a girl furthers her education, she can become a leader in anything.” – Mariana, age 14, GLOW participant.

DFW’s partnership with the Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn Program will directly and indirectly impact more than 50,000 people in support of adolescent girls’ education. GLOW participants are an important part of spreading the message of education and empowerment to their peers in villages, communities, nations and around the world.

Read about a GLOW Camp in Madagascar.


Update on Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn Partnership

In March, DFW announced its first impact partnership grant – a $100,000 commitment to the Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn Fund in support of girls’ education.  The Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn Program helps adolescent girls around the world complete their education by removing the social and structural barriers that many girls face in accessing an education.

So what has been happening since this partnership grant was announced earlier this year?

DFW’s grant funds have been awarded to the Peace Corps and are already being put into action by Peace Corps Volunteers around the world!

How are the funds dispersed?

  1. Peace Corps Volunteers receive specialized training on Let Girls Learn priorities and programming interventions, and hundreds of Volunteers are helping their communities identify barriers to girls receiving a quality education. Peace Corps Volunteers work with leaders at the community level in the country where they are serving. Together, they identify local needs and generate ideas for projects to address those pressing challenges.
  2. Peace Corps Volunteers work with their communities to create a grant application in the Peace Corps’ grants system.
  3. The grant application undergoes a period of review by the Peace Corps.
  4. The project is posted online to raise funds from the Volunteer’s family and friends along with other individual donors (crowdfunding).
  5. Once the project has been online for two weeks, it becomes eligible for DFW funding – provided it is one of the approved activities under the DFW grant.

According to the terms of our agreement with the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund, DFW will fund activities that fall into one of these four areas:

  1. GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) Camps and Clubs, which promote gender equality and empower young women.
  2. Men as Partners/BRO (Boys Respecting Girls) projects, which seek to promote increased gender equality and involve men in addressing the health and gender issues that affect their families and communities.
  3. STEM Projects for Girls, which inspire girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.
  4. Business and Entrepreneurial Training for Girls, which provides girls with enhanced business skills, increased confidence, and a better understanding of how they can contribute to their economy and country.

All of the projects we will fund are small-scale and community-driven. Community members, including women, must be involved in the development, execution, and sustainability of every project funded. In addition, all communities must contribute a minimum of 25% of the project costs in either in-kind or cash support.  This ensures that the community has a vested interest in the project and helps ensure long-term sustainability.

On a quarterly basis, the Peace Corps will provide us with a list of projects that have been funded by our grant, including a description, the country in which the project is being implemented, the total project cost, and the dollar amount at which DFW is funding each project. These quarterly project announcements will be posted on DFW’s website and in The Dish.  We expect that the first quarterly report will be made available to DFW members in August. The Peace Corps will also provide us with a final report summarizing the impact of the grant, a detailed breakdown of projects supported by region, and project highlights from around the globe.

In addition to sharing the quarterly project lists as they are available, we have also prepared a series of blogs that will describe each of the four activities that are eligible for DFW funds.  This month, we are talking about GLOW Camps and Clubs.

Read blog on GLOW Camps and Clubs

Watch The Dish for future blogs – next month, we will talk about the Men as Partners projects.

You may also want to check out these brief videos on the Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn Program.

Let Girls Learn – Peace Corps Ethiopia

30 Second #LetGirlsLearn promotion

If you have any questions about our Peace Corps partnership, please email us at

updated 9/1/16

Board of Directors

The Evolution of DFW’s Board

The gravitation to Dining for Women’s philanthropic model is evidence of the power of collective action. In the last decade, giving circles have emerged as a driving force for social impact. Dining for Women is a powerhouse, blending traditional nonprofit values with those of a grassroots movement. We are the largest giving circle globally — with 400 chapters — focused on women and girls.

In 2005, the New Ventures in Philanthropy Initiative first studied 70 giving circles in this highly-engaged and flexible form of philanthropy.  Dining for Women was one of those circles. Since then, several studies have been published, including New Ventures follow-up studies in 2007 and 2009, all validating the increasing popularity of collective, engaged giving. According to leading expert, Dr. Angela Eikenberry, a new study is under way which will be looking closely at long-term implications, and has identified up to 1,000 circles in the U.S. Details


Panel of Experts Established to Advise DFW

I am delighted to announce that Dining for Women has established its Panel of Experts with our first two extraordinary individuals.  The Panel is a collection of individuals who bring unique skills and expertise, and provide advice and recommendations to the Board of Directors and staff.

Ambassador Steven Steiner, our first Expert, serves as a Gender Advisor at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). USIP is an independent, nonpartisan organization that works to prevent, mitigate, and resolve violent conflict around the world.  Ambassador Steiner leads the global effort to educate men about the importance of gender equality and the benefits of empowering women in all parts of the peace process. In May, he was quoted as saying, “You can’t succeed on women, peace and security if you don’t have, in each country, a concerted, organized effort to engage men to understand and to support the rights of women.” Details


The Proven Platter – Uganda

Hello Diners!

We are going to Uganda this month in support of DIG, Development in Gardening. DIG provides experiential training in sustainable agriculture, nutrition and improved cooking practices, along with developing 400 women-led home gardens.

It is July, it’s hot, and I’m hoping that you’ll be able to do some grilling. I’ve got Beef Skewers in Green Masala on the menu, although you could certainly use chicken or pork if you prefer. A Cabbage Salad with Pineapple presents a fresh new take on coleslaw with an African twist. And for dessert, we have a stunning Mango Coulis with Tapioca.

When was the last time you made tapioca? Right – that’s what I thought. Ages ago, or maybe never! Tapioca is derived from cassava, as the plant is known in Africa, or yuca, as it is known in Latin America. (The word manioc is also sometimes used to refer to the plant and to the starch produced when its roots are dried and leached in preparation for cooking.) Cassava was brought to Africa by Spanish and Portuguese traders and has been a staple food ever since. In West Africa cassava is eaten daily, pounded into a mash called “fufu.” If you’ll remember, I wrote about yuca just a few months ago when our focus was on Nicaragua and we made Vigoron, a salad that included boiled yuca root. This time we are using the end result of drying cassava – tapioca – to make a dessert.

I’ve taken inspiration from a cookbook written by Marcus Samuelsson, “The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa,” for two of my recipes this month, the beef skewers and the dessert. Marcus shares many traditional African recipes in his book, along with updated and modernized versions suitable for American palates. For example, his recipe for Tangerine Consommé with Tapioca is brilliant, and I have adapted and streamlined the recipe for my taste and preference, taking traditional ingredients like mangoes, coconut milk, and tapioca, and turning everything into an entirely American concept. I’ve renamed the recipe Tapioca with Mango Coulis as this reflects the changes I’ve made. This is not the tapioca pudding of your childhood, but rather a lovely and sophisticated dessert for adults, with childhood memories included.

Please shoot me an email at if you have any questions about the recipes or would like to make a comment. And I’d like to give a big shout-out to the awesome ladies in the Northeast Region who attended their chapter leader retreat; they sent the most unusual thank you card I’ve ever received. You sure know how to make a gal feel appreciated!

Tapioca with Mango Coulis

Serves 8

This refreshing dessert is perfect for a summer day. You’ll need to plan ahead for this, but that’s a good thing. Both components of this dessert can and should be made one day ahead of time. The tapioca will need to soak for four hours before you even get started, so make sure to factor that into your planning.

The soaking really makes a big difference in how the grains plump up. While the original instructions called for an overnight soak, I found that was too long. The tapioca dissolved in my fingertips. I then tried four hours and found that was just right. I also experimented with not soaking the tapioca before cooking, and I found that result wasn’t nearly as satisfactory as the soaked tapioca, so I highly recommend that you don’t skip this step.

Finally, make sure your box of tapioca is fresh, and not pulled from the dusty depths of your cupboard. You want to purchase small pearl tapioca, not the instant or large pearl variety.


1 cup sugar, divided

2 lemons

1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice

One 10-oz bag frozen mango chunks, pureed (makes about 1 cup puree)

½ cup small pearl tapioca, soaked 4 hours in 2 cups of water

One 15-oz. can coconut milk

Fresh berries, for garnish

Mint sprigs, for garnish


To make the mango coulis: Put ½ cup of the sugar into a small saucepan. Grate the zest of two lemons right into the pan. Squeeze juice from the lemons into a separate bowl and reserve. If you are using a vanilla bean split the bean lengthwise and scrape seeds into the pan with sugar. Or just add vanilla extract. Add 1 cup of water and bring to a simmer, just until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain syrup into a container and stir in reserved lemon juice, orange juice, and mango puree. Refrigerate overnight, or until thoroughly chilled.

Combine the pre-soaked tapioca (including the remaining soaking liquid), coconut milk, and remaining ½ cup sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly; the tapioca should start to thicken almost immediately and become somewhat gloppy. When finished, the tapioca pearls should look translucent and have swollen to about twice their size. When tasting a spoonful, the texture should be gelatinous, without any crunchy bits left. The timing should be less than five minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. As the tapioca cools it will thicken considerably. Refrigerate overnight for best texture.

To serve, divide tapioca among eight shallow soup bowls. I used a 1/3 cup ice-cream scoop to dish out the tapioca in order to get nice rounded mounds. Pour mango coulis around the tapioca. Garnish with fresh berries and mint.

Recipe heavily adapted from “The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa,” by Marcus Samuelsson

Photo credit: Linda McElroy


The Proven Platter- Mexico

Hola Amigas (y Amigos)!


I didn’t have to think too hard this month to decide which recipes that I wanted to share with you. Although I owned an Italian restaurant in Seattle for 25 years, my entire kitchen staff is from the state of Michoacán, Mexico, and the food of their country is the one that we have made over and over again for restaurant family meals and celebrations. As you may have guessed from the photo accompanying this post, what you are looking at is our end-of-the-shift family meal. These tried-and-true dishes are at the heart and soul of my repertoire. I hereby bring you “McElroy Family Favorites!” Details


DFW Implements Best Practices in Program Funding

2015 was a big year for Dining for Women! Significant changes took place that have strengthened the vision, management, and operations of our organization. In her first full year at the helm, our Executive Director, Beth Ellen Holimon, realigned the duties and reporting structure of staff, led the Board of Directors through an extensive visioning process, and successfully created and executed DFW’s first, formalized fund development plan.



Afghan Women Are Impacting Communities and Culture

By Lynn O’Connell, DFW Member

We Are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope is the title of the book released just last month from the George W. Bush Institute. I had an opportunity to attend an event announcing the book’s publication in Washington, DC, hosted by the United States Institute of Peace which featured a discussion by Laura Bush, former U.S. First Lady, and Mina Sherzoy, a Council member of the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council. Details


The Proven Platter – Making Your Own Coconut Milk

Hello Diners!


We’re off to Tanzania this month. “Prawns in Coconut Sauce” and “Pilau Masala” are headlining the menu. These recipes have been graciously shared with us by Miriam Kinunda, the author of the blog “Taste of Tanzania.” I’ve tested both recipes and I give them the thumbs up. You’ll find many other recipes to choose from on her site, as well as some very good ones on our own Dining for Women recipe site.



Let Girls Learn Partnership is a Big Step Toward Our 2020 Vision

What a month we have had at Dining for Women! Less than a year ago we were hammering out the details of our 2020 Vision and on March 8th we met the First Lady of the United States to celebrate our partnership with the Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn program.

DFW’s Partnership Program is now initiated with this proactive, issue-based funding for girls education. This partnership allows us to coordinate our work with other organizations to make a global impact. It is the necessary balance to our Featured Grants in which we are able to respond to needs identified by in-country organizations. Now, in the company of organizations like Proctor and Gamble, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, J. Crew, and Salesforce Foundation, we are part of a bigger movement to eliminate the barriers to education for girls all over the world. Details

Barsha at Podium

It’s Personal

Yes, being in the same room with change-maker champions and meeting First Lady Michelle Obama was a big moment for Dining for Women. Announcing a cross-sector strategic partnership through a $100,000 grant to the Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn Fund is a defining moment. But at the end of the day, it’s all about impact. It’s all about the girls. And it’s personal. Details


DFW is Closest Thing to Peace Corps Experience

By Peggy Smith, Mid-Atlantic Regional Leader and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer

Ask any Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) about their experience and they will tell you, “It changed my life”. Yes, we come home after working as a volunteer in a Third World country to clean water, hot showers, comfortable beds, nice dwellings and clean sanitation, but with a passion that does not dissipate. We have to get involved, to do something, to continue to serve a need. So, we volunteer in soup kitchens, teach English to the newly-arrived from developing countries, work with the Junior League, help with outreach at our church — and for many, we join Dining for Women. Details


DFW Supports Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn Program

On March 8th – International Women’s Day – Dining for Women announced its first Strategic Partnership with a $100,000 commitment to the Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn Fund in support of girls’ education. On that day, we were honored to participate in a special event with First Lady Michelle Obama in Washington DC to support the Let Girls Learn Initiative. (See White House Fact Sheet) Details

Sharing Best Practices – Welcoming New Members

By Wendy Frattolin, Communications & Membership Director

As you know, Dining for Women’s goal is to grow to 20,000 members by the year 2020. Some people have asked how we plan to accommodate 20,000 new members into our nearly 400 existing chapters! Clearly, this is not possible. We know that, in order to meet our membership target, we will need to significantly increase our number of chapters. Promoting new chapters throughout the U.S. will be the main focus of our growth strategy over the next five years. Details


The Proven Platter – Nepal

Hello Diners!

We are off to Kathmandu this month. I’ve always wanted to go there. Since I’m stuck in Seattle in front of my computer though, I will have to find another way to experience Nepal. That’s one of the great benefits about being a Dining for Women member: armchair travel, through our monthly grantees and exploring the cuisine of different countries feels like I’m there – almost. So let’s go! Details

Senegal 1

Connections and Transformation in Senegal

By Marsha Wallace, Dining for Women Co-Founder

When I received a call from Susan Anderson, a board member with The Grandmother Project (GMP), inviting me to travel with her to Senegal to see their work in action, I jumped at the chance. Patricia Andersson, inveterate traveler and trip leader, was up for the adventure too! CREATE!, another DFW grantee, was headquartered within several hours drive of the GMP office, so we were fortunate to be able to visit both organizations to see the projects we’ve supported with our DFW grants. Details


New Committees Set Up to Advance Our 2020 Vision

We are very excited to announce our latest steps toward achieving DFW’s 2020 Vision.  We are launching a new Operational Committee structure which will allow our members to engage more in the decision-making processes of DFW and influence the directions we will take in the future. Details


International Women’s Day – Women’s Equity vs. Equality

By Beth Ellen Holimon, Dining for Women Executive Director

International Women’s Day is March 8th and this year’s theme – “Pledge for Parity” – brings up the issue of equality. According to the World Economic Forum, the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2133. We know the benefits of closing the gender gap – Dining for Women Co-Founder Marsha Wallace addressed it in her blog and I addressed it in a blog as well. We know the importance of equality, but we also need to recognize the importance of equity. Details


The DFW “Salon”: An Alternative Chapter Model

By Leslye Heilig, Co-Leader, Northeast Region and Chapter Leader of MA, Great Barrington-1 and 2

For the past four years, I have been the Chapter Leader of a large, successful potluck dinner-based chapter, with approximately 25 to 50 members attending each month. This past spring, at the request of some members who did not feel comfortable driving in rural areas at night and who were looking for a more intimate and in-depth discussion, I started a daytime chapter. I continue to lead both chapters, and thoroughly enjoy each of them for their very different yet equally wonderful aspects. Details


Visiting DFW Grantees in South Asia

During the fall of 2015, I traveled extensively in South Asia co-directing Furman University’s India/Sri Lanka Study Away Program, which included 15 students and two faculty members. I made the most of being in South Asia by conducting site visits and interviews with five Dining for Women grantees: Emerge Global, The Unforgotten, Anchal, Matrichaya, and Vacha Charitable Trust, our featured grantee this month. Details


Find Me Fascinated

The first time I talked with Jessica Posner, co-founder of Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO), was June 2011.   Shining Hope for Communities was Dining for Women’s featured grantee, and I had asked her to Skype with my chapter. It was about 2:00 a.m. in Kenya! We were riveted as she described the school and the vision that she and Kennedy, her life partner and SHOFCO co-founder, have for their organization. We were hooked by the vision but also by the story of Jessica and Kennedy, drawn together in life and in work. Jessica is from Denver, Colorado. Kennedy was born and raised in the slums of Kibera, in Nairobi, Kenya. Together they’ve established a thriving nonprofit that is changing the lives of precious girl students and also their community in Kibera. Details


Laying the Foundations for Growth

Last year, Dining for Women announced its 2020 Vision, with plans to grow our organization to 20,000 members by the year 2020. This is indeed a bold goal, and one that we believe is achievable over the five-year period. Our focus this year is on laying the foundations for our future growth, and we are off to a great start! I want to tell you about an important initiative that has recently been under way. Details


Three Reserve Grants Awarded

Thanks to the generous support of our members and donors in 2015, DFW has awarded three reserve grants. These grants are awarded when excess funds are accumulated in our grant reserve fund. Reserve grantees are named alternates in previous grant cycles which means they were thoroughly vetted and met all of our rigorous criteria. These organizations were also required to submit updated information and budgets for evaluation prior to being awarded a reserve grant. The three reserve grantees for 2015 are:

Visions Global Empowerment (Ethiopia) — $46,728

Mercado Global (Guatemala) — $28,061.99

EDUCATE! (Uganda) — $15,000



Sharing Best Practices – Showing Our Appreciation

Dining for Women relies heavily on our committed and passionate volunteers, especially the 600+ chapter leaders and co-leaders like you. We simply could not achieve all that we do without our volunteers, and we want every volunteer to know that their contributions are recognized, valued and appreciated. Details


The Proven Platter | A Vegetarian Thali Platter

Hello Diners!

This month our culinary journey takes us to India, specifically the Maharashtra state in Western India. I got a little ambitious this month though, and rather than present you with one “proven platter” dish, I constructed an entire thali platter just for you! I had a lot of fun working on this project, and even more fun eating the leftovers for days!



Dining for Women’s Theory of Change

As the board and I worked to culminate the voices of members, leadership volunteers, and staff for the 2020 Vision, we had to look hard at the desires of the future.  Most importantly, we had to understand what Dining for Women is trying to change.  This instigated a very interesting discussion because, as we have been pointing out throughout this year, there are many points of change in our model.  As we pursue our vision of change, we recognize that Dining for Women must create a number of transformations along the way: Details

Speaking with our hearts

Speaking With Our Hearts

I’ve been writing and rewriting this message for over a decade. The heart of it is always the same: collective action drives social transformation. When individuals believe they have found a way to change the world, it’s a powerful force for good. Dining for Women is a way to change the world. And in this world of unprecedented division, Dining for Women is a movement where individual differences are inconsequential and unity and solidarity prevail. Details


Our Sustained Funding Grantee: Anchal Project | Designing Change, Stitch by Stitch

The mission of Anchal – our sustained funding grantee for January — is to address the exploitation of women around the world by using design thinking to create employment opportunities, services and products that support empowerment. This mission statement truly comes to life when you hear the stories of Nita and Nasine:

Nita is a senior artisan and project assistant with Anchal Project. She was married at a young age and left her husband after years of abuse. Because of her limited education and lack of transferable skills, Nita joined the commercial sex trade. Nita has now been with Anchal Project for four years where she has excelled in design training and created beautiful, marketable pieces. She has taken advantage of Anchal’s workshops in financial planning and saved enough money to move out of the slum and purchase a home in a new neighborhood where she is no longer stigmatized for her previous life as a sex worker. Details


Sharing Best Practices – The Joys of Mentoring

By Peggy Smith, Regional Leader for the Mid-Atlantic Region

 Let’s hear it for our DFW Mentors. These are our foot soldiers, they walk the talk.

So what does it take to be a mentor? It takes a commitment to DFW and its mission, and an interest in sharing that passion to inspire and motivate others.

Mentors play an important role at the grassroots level of DFW by answering inquiries from people who want to join an existing chapter or start a chapter of their own. They have to know their territory well so they can match up potential new members with the most appropriate chapter within their geographic area. They also help launch new chapters, which includes educating potential Chapter Leaders about how to start and manage a DFW chapter, helping them organize their first meetings, attending the new chapter’s first meeting where possible, and answering any questions that arise.



The Proven Platter: Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Hello Diners!

Are you familiar with amaranth? We’re going to go all amaranth this month! Perhaps you’ve used it in breakfast porridge, or granola, maybe even a smoothie. Puente a la Salud Comunitaria is a grass-roots organization working primarily in the indigenous state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico. Its focus is on farming, consumption and commercialization of amaranth.



Gender Equity: A Path to Peace

Recent terrorist attacks in Paris have resulted in shock and sadness among millions, making some question what, if anything, can be done to make a positive impact on the state of affairs that contributed to the violence. In others, it has generated a sense of urgency to do something, to make a difference.

This quote comes from a friend who posted her thoughts on Facebook: “So many things swirling in my mind this afternoon. Things about how enormous the problems and injustices in the world are, and how insignificant any one person’s efforts seem in the face of such immense wrong.” Another friend was so moved to take action that she decided to write a letter to a nonprofit she’s involved with, suggesting the creation of a program to bring women of the U.S. together with women in developing countries as a way to foster deeper knowledge of others, to break down barriers that keep us from seeing one another’s common humanity.



DFW’s 4 Programs Add Up to Big Impact

In my very first week at Dining for Women, I sat around a table with our Board of Directors while Barb Collins, Board Chair and Co-Founder, asked each of us to share our “Dining for Women Story”. It was my first time meeting Anne Capestrain, but she told a story I will never forget. She shared how DFW had given her the opportunity to be a part of other women’s lives and, in doing so, she was inspired and her life had been transformed. I have visited about 50 chapters this year and have heard similar stories across the country.




During this time of year, we hear a lot about Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. Did you know that there is also Giving Tuesday, a global day dedicated to giving? Since its founding in 2012, Giving Tuesday has inspired giving around the world, resulting in greater donations, volunteer hours, and activities that bring about real change in communities. This year, Giving Tuesday takes place on December 1st.



The Proven Platter—Nepal, December 2015

Hello Diners!

Our culinary travel this month of December finds us in the Himalayas, specifically Nepal.

Originally, I had it in mind to come up with an interesting twist on the “momo”, a Nepalese steamed dumpling with a meat or vegetable filling, wildly popular and sold on the streets. What about a sweet dumpling filling and call it dessert? My first attempt at this idea was a complete failure, but I still liked the idea and decided I’d work on this for the next time we visit Nepal in April 2016. So I’ve got time to get this right!



Syrian Refugee Crisis: A Firsthand Perspective

It is devastating to see and read about the Syrian refugee families, and I find myself searching constantly for more information, more perspective. Dining for Women’s featured program in January was the Collateral Repair Project (CRP), which helps refugees living in Jordan. Our $37,000 grant is being used to provide psychosocial and wellness programs as well as leadership training for refugee women, many of whom have escaped from the conflict in Syria. I wanted to loop back with CRP to dig a little deeper into the perspective of the refugees and the future. Details


The Benefits of Recurring Donations

Monthly recurring donations are the easiest and most convenient way for you to give to DFW and ensure that ALL our programs receive your support – even if you cannot attend your chapter meeting that month.

Recurring donations provide a predictable source of income we can count on to fund our grants program and our member services. They also help us increase our efficiency and reduce costs, allowing us to help even more women and girls.

So what does it mean to be a recurring donor? It means that your credit card or bank account will be charged on a certain date every month according to your specific instructions. You can set up a recurring donation for our funded programs, support DFW’s 13th Month Campaign all year long, or both. You can change or cancel your automatic withdrawal at any time.

There are several ways to set up an automatic recurring donation:

  1. Complete our Monthly Giving by Automatic Withdrawal Form and mail it to DFW’s home office. You can set up either a bank or credit card withdrawal by using this form. For bank withdrawals, you must send in a voided check with the form.

(PLEASE NOTE: An automatic bank withdrawal that is set up by completing this form is the least expensive payment method for DFW, costing only about 11 cents per transaction.)

  1. Go online to DFW’s donation page and choose the “repeat payment option”. Online recurring donations can be set up via E-Check (electronic bank draft) or credit card. If you set up a recurring donation online, you do NOT need to fill out the Monthly Giving by Automatic Withdrawal Form, nor do you need to send in a voided check for an electronic bank draft.
  1. Call DFW’s home office at 864-335-8401. DFW staff will be happy to help you set up your recurring donation.

The Proven Platter—Togo, November 2015

Hello Diners!

This month we visit the small West African country of Togo. Sandwiched between Ghana on the west and Benin on the east, the southern end of Togo sits at the Gulf of Guinea, where plenty of access to fresh fish helps to round out the cuisine. While fish is an important source of protein, bush meat is also often consumed. The most well-liked bush meat is the giant rat. I think we’ll skip that and make a delicious beef stew instead!



New Sustainable Development Goals Will Guide DFW Decisions

By Beth Ellen Holimon, Executive Director

On September 25th, the United Nations made a historic and bold move by adopting the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These new SDGs follow and expand on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which were set in 2001 and are due to expire at the end of this year. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years.

The Millennium Development Goals were a good framework for governments and international aid that have resulted in many global improvements, but they were too narrow to create comprehensive change. For the past two years, thousands of stakeholders have been developing a new approach. The 17 SDGs, which include 169 individual targets, are collaborative and transformational; they are inextricably linked to each other and reliant on each other for total success.



Co-Founders’ Blog: Imagine a World that Works for Women

By Marsha Wallace, Co-Founder

This month, Co-Founder Marsha Wallace discusses the importance of investing in Dining for Women through our 13th Month Campaign.

Imagine…. A world that works for women…..

Imagine every woman and girl worldwide having access to education, healthcare, economic opportunity, legal and political participation in their communities and nations, living lives free from discrimination, oppression, violence and poverty. Imagine hundreds of thousands of Dining for Women members united by a common goal – to ensure equity and opportunity for women and girls living in poverty globally. What an exciting and BOLD vision!



NEW!! Click & Pledge for Online Donations

Donating online to Dining for Women is now easier than ever with our new Click & Pledge processing system. Members can conveniently make one-time, recurring or in memory/in honor donations all in one place – whether they are on their computer, tablet or mobile phone.

Click & Pledge is a simple, user-friendly, and highly secure system that is designed specifically for non-profits and is widely used throughout our industry.



One Chapter’s Take on 13th Month

This month, Merle Steiner, Co-Leader for the MD, Rockville-1 chapter shares what the 13th Month Campaign means to her chapter.

Our Rockville, MD Chapter is about to celebrate its 8th Anniversary. We are very proud to have been one of the early chapters joining the Dining for Women family. We have watched DFW grow from a group of creative, intelligent women working from their kitchen table to the amazing organization it has become.



New Grantees Selected for First Half of 2016

Equipping women in rural Mexico to farm a highly nutritious local grain crop; helping marginalized girls in Mumbai, India to complete their schooling; empowering Maasai women in Tanzania to protect their natural resources for themselves and future generations; and helping victims of human trafficking achieve justice and prosecute their traffickers. These are some of the objectives of the six featured programs that you – our DFW members – will support in the first half of 2016 through grants totaling more than $275,000. See the Program Flyer for a complete list of the newly-selected grantees.



PROGRAM UPDATE: One Heart World-Wide

One Heart World-Wide was Dining for Women’s featured program in July 2013. At that time, it was awarded a $50,000 grant to help expand the “Network of Safety” program that improves the lives of women and newborns during pregnancy and childbirth in two remote rural areas of Western Nepal. The Network of Safety includes health provider training, health facility improvements, and community outreach programs to ensure that pregnant women and their newborns have access to necessary care.



Why Is Giving Internationally Important?

by Beth Ellen Holimon, DFW Executive Director

Philanthropic reports tell the story that Americans are among the most generous in the world.  Private giving exceeded $358 billion in 2014 with individuals giving 72%, foundations giving 14%, bequests 8% and corporations at 5%.  The only category of giving to decline in 2014 was international giving, making it the third year in a row that giving has dropped in this category.



How are DFW’s program grantees selected?

A look at the work of our Program Selection Committee

By Janine Baumgartner and Susan Garrity

Members frequently ask how programs are selected for funding. We consider the selection of program grantees one of the most important decisions we make.  As with every important decision, there is a designated person or body and there is a process.



Setting Our Course for 2020

A Special Message from DFW’s Board of Directors

Over the past year, our Board has been listening to and reflecting on many points of view from our members, our volunteer leaders, committee members, and our staff.   From this, a dream has emerged for the future of our organization, and we want to share it with you.

As DFW members and supporters, we know that you share our passion for improving the lives of women and girls around the world through gender equity and empowerment. No matter how far apart we live, or what our life experiences are, we are all connected in deep and meaningful ways because of our shared vision for what we want DFW to accomplish, and what it brings to each of us in terms of heartfelt connection with each other and the broader world.


Cabbage Tostada

The Proven Platter: Guatemalan Beet and Cabbage Tostada

Hello Diners!

This month we travel to Guatemala. Oh how I love the food of Central America! While Guatemala does not seem to have a national dish, tamales are very popular. I hesitate to share a recipe with you because they’re pretty labor intensive. Instead, how about something simple, refreshing and different, like a Cabbage and Beet Tostada?



A conversation with Muditar

We spoke with Tricia Karpfen and Amy Hartenstine from the Muditar Foundation about how Dining For Women’s sponsorship will help provide maternal and infant care for the women in the Pa-O tribal villages in Southern Shan State, Myanmar. Muditar has worked hard to create a Maternal and Infant Health program that empowers women to make healthy reproductive choices reducing maternal and infant mortality and raise healthy children.


DFW Without Volunteers

Dear DFW Member-Volunteers,

After coming off two three-day weekends with Dining for Women volunteers, I am more grateful than ever for what you do, how you think, and the impact you have on Dining for Women.  DFW is extremely reliant on volunteers and the thought of all our volunteers going on vacation for a month at the same time is frightening.  Fortunately, because I like to think positively, this will never, ever, ever happen.   Then a tiny voice in the middle of the night says, “Beth Ellen, wake up.  What IF DFW volunteers did NOT show up for a month? What would happen?”



Reacting to Ebola: The World Takes Stock.

Dining for Women’s grantees are located around the world, but many work in Africa, specifically West Africa. For
the past year, the burdens of recovery from war – inadequate infrastructure and the struggle for education, health care and in many cases, survival – have been increased by the fight against Ebola.

In a three-part series, Dining for Women takes a closer look at this disease. In part one, we looked at the basics of the disease and the 2014 – 2015 outbreak. Our second feature looked at how a past Dining for Women grantee played a critical role in containing the outbreak. Finally, we look at the current state of this outbreak.



Is cervical cancer the next biggest health risk for women?

Dr. Leslee Jaeger, an OB/GYN in Minneapolis and a DFW chapter leader, recently returned from a medical training trip to MamaBaby Haiti. There she taught clinic staff how to screen for cervical cancer. She wrote this article about her concerns of the growing risks of cervical cancer for women in the developing world.  Details

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Smiles on Wings’ Scholarship Students

In December 2013, through the Smiles on Wings program, we invested in the futures of five young women. They are daughters of the Karen tribe in Thailand. The Karen people are outcasts in Thailand and often have little or no access to health care or education. These five girls are studying either nursing or childhood education and will return to work in their villages and improve the lives and health of their community. Here’s a look at the students we are supporting.  Details


A conversation with One Acre Fund

In August 2009, Dining for Women granted $18,437 to a small non profit providing support to farmers in Rwanda. Today, that program has grown from serving 25,000 farmers in two countries to a projected 305,000 farmers by the end of this year in four countries. We had a conversation with Briehan Lynch of the One Acre Fund to find out how they did it and to talk about the impact of our investment in them. This is the first in a series of Impact Hangouts to re-connect with past programs.  Details

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Re-connecting with past programs

Our first Impact Hangout takes us to the One Acre Fund. We’ll reconnect with this program and find out how they’ve grown from serving 25,000 families to more than 300,000 families in Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi in just six years. This is the first of a series of Impact Hangouts for 2015. Details


Fighting Ebola exposed the weaknesses in Mali healthcare

Dining for Women’s grantees are located around the world, but many work in Africa, specifically West Africa. For the past year, the burdens of recovery from war, inadequate infrastructure and the struggle for education, health care and in many cases, survival have been increased by the fight against Ebola. In a three-part series, Dining for Women takes a closer look at this disease. In April, we looked at the basics of the disease and the 2014 – 2015 outbreak. In May, we take a look at how a past Dining for Women grantee played a critical role in containing the outbreak. Finally, in June, we look at the current state of this outbreak. Details

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A Mother’s Day Tribute to Moms and Mentors

Who taught you to stand up for yourself and for others? Who showed you that being kind didn’t mean being weak? Who helped you become the woman you are today? For most of us it was our mom, or an aunt, or a sister, teacher or friend. In honor of Mother’s Day, we invited our programs to share stories of strong mothers and confident daughters among the women and girls we’ve supported. These are their stories.  Details

Dig into our 2014 Annual Report

Our 2014 Annual Report is out and we’re excited to present it to our members, donors and readers.

We hope that as you review it, you’ll feel the energy and pride that comes from knowing you were a big part of this.

Our story is told through the incredible photos of women and girls around the world, through the stories of how your investment in programs has changed the lives of one woman, one young girl, one family, and through the impressive commitment of our annual appeal donors to keep our organization strong and sustainable.

Throughout the report, you’ll find links to interactive graphics, web pages and videos. We hope you’ll take the time to explore the depth and breadth of what you accomplished last year.

Download the Annual Report

We’re also introducing the first stage of our new donor recognition and fund development plan.

Dining for Women is making donor recognition a bigger priority with a more formalized program that began at the end of 2014. As an organization, we need to recruit, solicit and obtain the higher level gifts that will support the growth and sustainability of the organization for years to come. To help define this, we’ve established a Founders’ Circle where we can recognize and reward those donors who support the organization at higher levels.

Learn more about the Founders’ Circle

As this report clearly illustrates, our strength comes from everyone working together. And we’ll be working on developing a plan for chapter and volunteer recognition as well.

The 2014 Annual Report is an interactive PDF that is designed to be read on a computer or tablet. It is best viewed and printed, if desired, in landscape mode. The report was designed by Jennifer Land.

Other editions available: Read the annual report in the digital magazine format Issuu. Available on all mobile devices as well as online.


Women defending their rights and natural resources

Dining for Women is moving to be a part of the broader conversation about gender equality and women’s global empowerment. We have connected with Oxfam America on some projects and recently Marsha Wallace was invited to become an Oxfam Sister on the Planet Ambassador. Through that lens, we are having our eyes opened to some issues in the world of international rights, compensation and environmental impact. Details

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Featured program selections announced

We’ve selected the featured programs to round out the 2nd half of 2015. They focus predominantly on maternal and child health but there are also programs on environmental sustainability and girls’ education. Check out this interactive graphic.  Details

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RIPPLE Africa makes home fires safer

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Cooking should be one of those activities that makes us feel safe and secure. What’s more comforting than home fires? But in much of the developing world, indoor cooking over open flames results in dangerous household air pollution. The World Health Organization estimates that 4.3 million die each year from its complications.

RIPPLE Africa has developed a low-tech, sustainable and efficient stone cookstove that burns significantly less wood and uses bricks that retain heat as the cooking surface. This is safer than open flames, reduces the indoor air pollution and saves women significant time spent gathering wood for cooking fires. That time can now be used on educational or economic activities in the home.

RIPPLE Africa is our featured program for May 2015. Our $45,000 grant — distributed over two years — will directly effect 3,000 families in the Nkhotakota district of Malawi. The Changu Changu Moto project will build a cookstove in each of 3,000 homes, provide instruction for the families on safe use and include follow up visits for more training and education as well as data collection.

For more information about RIPPLE Africa, review their program page and program fact sheet. You can learn more about Malawi customs and cuisine and review this month’s Proven Platter.


Ebola: Africa struggles to recover

Dining for Women’s grantees are located around the world, but many work in West Africa. For the past year, the burdens of recovery from war, inadequate infrastructure and the struggle for education, health care and, in many cases, survival have been overshadowed by the fight against Ebola. In a three-part series, Dining for Women takes a closer look at this disease. In April, we focus on the basics. In May, we take a look at how a past Dining for Women grantee played a critical role in containing the outbreak. Finally, in June, we look at the current state of this outbreak. Details


Why we aren’t Square

Mobile credit card payments, marked by the ubiquitous plug-in credit card reader, are growing in popularity. There’s growing interest in using services like Square and others among DFW chapters. But security concerns and administrative support must play into our decisions as well. Here’s an FAQ. Details

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Surviving rape in Cambodia

We invited some of our programs that deal directly with violence against women to share some stories. The stories show the impact these programs are having fighting violence against women, addressing their root causes, and providing support and a way back for its victims. This is the story of a young Cambodian teen-ager, whose name has been changed, who was helped through this tragic experience by Lotus Outreach’s aftercare and reintegration program — a Dining for Women sustained program. 

Of 4 sisters, 2 walk a different path

We invited some of our programs that deal directly with violence against women to share some stories. The stories show the impact these programs are having fighting violence against women, addressing their root causes, and providing support and a way back for its victims. This is the story of a young Kenyan girl who was spared the traditional female genital mutilation and sent instead to study at the Kakenya Center for Excellence.  Details

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Violence changed this child’s life, but won’t define it

We invited some of our programs that deal directly with violence against women to share some stories. The stories show the impact these programs are having fighting violence against women, addressing their root causes, and providing support and a way back for its victims. This is the story of a young Kenyan girl who knew the horrors of domestic violence at an extremely early age. Her mother was murdered by her father, who then abandoned Naanyu and her five siblings. Taken in by family, she is studying at the Kakenya Center for Excellence where she has learned that her life will not be the same as for others in her village. FGM will not be performed on her.  Details

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Violence against women 2014

Gender inequality and violence against women walk hand in hand through the world. Dining for Women has supported more than a dozen programs that specifically work to stop violence against women, to help its victims re-enter society and reclaim their lives or to empower girls to have the confidence and the skills to say NO to violent practices like FGM and indentured servitude.  Details


Stop the violence

The 16 days between the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (Nov. 25) and Human Rights Day (Dec. 10) represents a coordinated effort to promote activism and awareness. Violence against women exists in every country and at every income level. So there are many voices talking about the issue this week.

Dining for Women has put together a digital magazine that is curating and aggregating these voices. On Twitter, #16days and #violenceagainstwomen are being used to coordinate the conversation, but there are others. On Facebook, these tags and DFWs #DFW16days are being used as a way to bring all your comments together.

And there are news articles, scholarly articles and posts from the UNWomen, programs and nonprofits.

You can read this magazine on the web just by following this link or by downloading the free Flipboard app for whatever flavor of mobile device you use. If you see a page that just has a hashtag on it, like #16days, that’s a custom search that will bring up a current list of all tweets using that tag.

The magazine will be updated automatically with new content from across the web. You can Follow the magazine to have it added to your Flipboard bookshelf and share it with others.  Share your insights, observations and thoughts for increasing awareness: post on Facebook or Twitter with the #DFW16days.

Photo: The Empire State Building in New York City lights up orange to support the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The United Nations was also lit up in orange. 



Read Stop the Violence


A Rwandan Thanksgiving with Gardens for Health

By Jessie Cronan
Executive Director, Gardens for Health

More than 500 people gathered at the Gardens for Health farm in Rwanda on Friday, Nov. 7, 2014, for a very unique Thanksgiving celebration. Families enrolled in our program joined local officials, neighbors, and visitors, for a day of dancing, singing, and – of course – eating. Details

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Chapter fundraisers are a great way to support 13th Month

 By Wendy Frattolin
DFW Member and Volunteer Director

Many of our chapters hold special events or activities to raise funds for the 13th Month Campaign.  In addition to raising money to support DFW’s operations, local fundraising events can also be a great way to build relationships within your chapter members, spread the word about your local chapter, or encourage new members to join. Details

Peru 2014: The floating islands

By Lisa Eurich

First off, I really enjoyed the very short but sweet stay we had at Llachon. The food was delicious (especially the fried cheese for lunch) and the families were very hospitable. I would definitely recommend a homestay at Calixtos hospedaje. Our mamacitas gave us little bouqets of geranium flowers and munyo. Details

Peru 2014: Exploring Pucallpa

By Karen Zocchi

Our loads considerably lightened after distributing baby clothes and supplies, maternity gowns and medical supplies, we spent some time in the town of Pucallpa. We took a boat ride in the lake and saw many vultures, tuki tuki birds and had a wonderful lunch at a floating restaurant with our friends that are beginning to feel like old friends – not strangers that we met five days ago!

We motored by the bathing spot for the vultures. After cleaning in the lake, they stand on the bank and spread their wings to dry. Very impressive! (some of us thought menacing would be a more appropriate adjective!)

There are many small green plants floating on the lake. They were so thick that the tuki tuki bird appeared to walk on water. When the tuki tuki found a promising plant, he would flip it over and eat the insects off the bottom.

We learned an interesting old tale. It was feared that dolphins stole women by impregnating them. No women were allowed to swim in the lake during the time they were fertile!

Tonight we head back to Lima and a few hours later we head to Puno and our home stays.

As we finish off the first part of our trip, I’d like to extend a sincere thanks to everyone who donated and helped us collect supplies. They were very gratefully received!

Peru 2014 arrival

Peru: We’re here

By Karen Zocchi

Oct. 20, Day 2

Fifteen women.

Thirty large suitcases and duffel bags.

More than 15 backpacks and additional bags.

One very determined tour leader and one very patient airline employee who worked magic math to get everything on the same plane. A short, smooth ride and then…

Loud music, people clapping, putting paper leis around our necks, welcoming us to Pucallpa and inviting us to dance. Right now. In the airport.

All the planning, collecting, buying, packing and schlepping giant suitcases to another continent seemed a distant memory.

Thus begins our adventure with InMed. Tomorrow we will meet the people who are served and supported by InMed. We can’t wait!


Featured programs announced for first half of 2015

Dining for Women is pleased to announce its grant program for the first six months of 2015, which will provide more than $331,000 to grassroots program from Jordan to Haiti. The programs will directly benefit more than 13,500 women and girls, and countless more indirectly.

The programs work toward improved health, increased educational opportunities, training of healthcare workers to return to rural villages and medical care.

“This group of grantees all offer something new to Dining for Women,” notes Dr. Veena Khandke, interim program director.  “These programs are innovative and collaborative,” she says, noting that they represent a strong cross-section of need from aiding Middle Eastern refugees to inventing a completely new and renewable process to make affordable sanitary pads for girls in Rwanda.

The featured programs are:

  • The Collateral Repair Project in Amman, Jordan, which focuses on providing support for women and families who have been displaced by war and unrest in the region. The program will provide therapy and wellness programs, health and nutrition support, leadership training to rebuild lost self-esteem and exposure to women-led organizations in Jordan.
  • Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) based in Rwanda will provide critical health education to young girls, along with manufacturing and distributing affordable go! Pads, made from a renewable source – banana fibers – and offering education and menstrual hygiene. Due to cultural norms and misinformation, girls are often excluded from school and social activities during menstruation. This program aims to break the silence around menstrual taboos in schools.
  • In Senegal, the Grandmother Project develops training and education programs to encourage grandmothers to be agents of change in their communities. The leaders program will include the development of reusable training materials and workshops as well as a series of “Under the tree” pilot training programs.
  • Cervical cancer is a major women’s health issue in Haiti where the Mama Baby Haiti program is launch a well woman project. The project will include screenings and treatment for cervical cancer as well as education on sexual health, risky behavior and sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Open fire cooking, which is the norm in Malawi, is a dangerous practice. Improper venting of fumes can cause serious respiratory illness for women and their families. Well-vented open cook stoves, such as a Changu Changu Moto stove provided by Ripple Africa can save lives as well as preserve the critical forests.
  • Women artisans in Rwanda have been benefitting from the entrepreneurial programs of Indego Africa. But a new program – the Leadership Academy — will offer women advanced business training and the opportunity to apply classroom learning in actual situations by managing cooperative programs.

In addition to these six programs, Dining for Women has also granted $75,000 to five programs we have selected for multi-year funding. They are: The BOMA Project, a program supporting micro-enterprises in Kenya; Matrichaya, which offers vocational training, health education, medical aid and literacy programs in Ranchi, India; Friendship Bridgeis a microloan program that works with women in Guatemala to assist them in starting, expanding or diversifying their business; Village Enterprises in Uganda works in partnership with the Jane Goodall Center to provide women entrepreneurs with business and conservation and work toward the goal of sustainable livelihoods and environmental awareness;  and PINCC, a medical treatment and training program in India that treats cervical cancer, trains and educates professional staff and women on prevention and treatment.


International Day of the Girl 2014

Educating girls may be the key to changing the world, but it’s not as simple as providing books, pencils and school uniforms. Girls’ education involves safety and security, health and wellness, reproductive education, and even educating parents to value and support their daughter’s education. To celebrate the 2014 Day of the Girl (Oct. 11), Dining for Women sat down with three of our programs to talk about their holistic approaches — what they do, how it’s working and what cultural shifts they are seeing in their parts of the world.  Details

New Executive Director named




Beth Ellen Holimon brings 20 years of leadership experience

Beth Ellen Holimon, a resident of San Diego, CA, has more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit management, organization development and executive consulting, most recently as president of Holimon Planning and Coaching, a nationwide nonprofit and board consulting firm. Details


A conversation with Nicholas Kristof

Marsha Wallace hosted a conversation with “A Path Appears” co-author Nicholas Kristof about the new book, the gains made in reducing extreme poverty and women’s equality — and the distance yet to go. The authors mention Dining for Women in several spots throughout the book. “Sheryl and I are such big fans of what you guys do,” Kristof said during the Hangout. View the on-demand video of this insightful conversation. Details


Afghanistan presents many challenges, and equal opportunities

Many Dining for Women members and constituents raised questions about what would happen to the women supported by the Bond Street Theatre program when they are released from prison or once the US leaves Afghanistan. We posed these questions to Bond St.’s artistic director and founder, Joanna Sherman. Her answers are thoughtful and thought-provoking.  Details

Former Kamlari at sewing class

Moving beyond kamlari in Nepal

The Nepal Youth Foundation was our featured program in January 2012. Dining for Women funded the Indentured Daughters Program, which, with the official abolition of kamlari, has become the Empowering Freed Kamlaris program. We recently saw an inspiring television report on their success and asked for an inside look. This update on the organization’s efforts and the photos and success stories show the tremendous impact we can all have. Details


Nigerian kidnapping focuses world attention on a massive global issue

The shocking kidnapping of 270 Nigerian schoolgirls has turned the world’s attention to human trafficking. Every day, in every country, people’s lives and futures are stolen from them. There is no easy answer, no quick fix. But we can take advantage of the opportunity to educate others on the widespread horror of modern-day slavery and to inspire them to join in efforts to change cultures for women around the world. 



Great Day (Louisville, KY) interview with Marsha Wallace

Marsha Wallace visited Louisville to meet with local chapters, to present at a University of Louisville-sponsored conference and stopped by WHAS11’s Great Day program. Joined by Louisville member Christy Haas, Marsha talked about the important role women play in the world and the power they have to change their communities when they are given a hand up. Take a listen.  Details

Soure: CNN

Safety and security far from the reality of women caught in civil war

Women and children in conflict zones around the world are far more likely to be killed, raped, injured and torn from their homes than actual combatants. The Women Peace and Security Act offers protection for women on the ground and a seat at the negotiating table. But it is languishing in Congress. What can DFW do to help?


Children of Vietnam 2

A special dinner at Children of Vietnam

Each of three small groups were guests at a beautiful, bountiful luncheon which had been prepared by single mothers – recipients of DFW micro-loans to Children of Vietnam’s Empowering Foundations for Women & Children (EFWC).

How appropriate that the last line of the DFW Dinner Affirmation reads, “May we all be able to feast together some day.”

(And then, of course, there were the dishes to do!!!)

Children of Vietnam 3 Children of Vietnam 2

Children of Vietnam 4— Marilyn Murphy


Visiting Children of Vietnam


DFW member Ashley Gibb at Children of Vietnam


By Cynthia Sawtell
San Anselmo (CA)

Feb. 22 — Our day started off rainy and cool. We spent most of the morning in the wonderful Ethnographic museum learning about the 53 ethnic minorities which together make up 14 percent of the population. Later, we visited an ancient Confucian university with its lovely gardens and shrine. The rest of the day was deeply meaningful. Details

Women’s empowerment activist from Vietnam visits DFW chapter

DFW Feb2014-2-2

Mary Caroline Mitchell and Rachel Broughton flank Dr. Ha Ngo, who visited their DFW chapter meeting. 


By Mary Caroline Mitchell
Springfield, IL-3, Chapter Leader

Dr. Ha Ngo, Ph.D., is the director of a women’s empowerment program in Vietnam. Visiting the US as part of a program sponsored by the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program, we were fortunate to have her join us for our February chapter meeting. The State Department program fosters citizen diplomacy and brought Dr. Ngo, the deputy director, Center for Education, Promotion and Empowerment of Women located in Hanoi, Vietnam, to Springfield. Details

The sights and sounds of Hanoi

By Karen Hasara
Springfield, Illinois

Feb. 21 — Our first full day in Hanoi and what a day it was! Our first venture was a walking tour of the old city and our first lesson was learning how to venture down the sidewalk together and to cross a street and survive! We learned that we had to carefully venture out, never hesitating, never running, and not trying to go back. Details

Life on Tonle Sap Lake


DFW travelers receive blessing at a Buddhist monastery

By Thora Pabst
Greeley, CO

FEB 20 — Our group, perhaps a little worse for the wear, left bright and early for Tonle Sap Lake, the largest fresh water lake in Asia. This area supplies the majority of fish brought to the market. Life on the water can be challenging in so many ways. Homes are generally on stilts to receive the benefit of breezes and protection from rising waters during the rainy season. Modern amenities are virtually non-existent. Though their situations seems cobbled together, the residents appeared undeterred in their pursuit of daily life. Details

Is there hope for the International Violence Against Women Act



DFW Co-Founder

DFW recognizes that our mission of making a meaningful difference in the lives of women living in extreme poverty cannot be separate from our commitment to promote gender equality.

This is reflected in our recently revised vision statement: “We envision a world in which millions of lives have been transformed and extreme poverty has been reduced because Dining for Women has connected people in creative, powerful ways that assure gender equality. “

One of the most prevalent symptoms of gender inequality is gender-based violence. As Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn explained in the introduction to their book, Half the Sky, more women have been killed just because they are women than all the men killed in all the world wars of the 20th century combined.

Harmful practices like sex-selective abortion, female infanticide, suicide, honor killings, bride burnings, and rape are all components of gender-based violence. Estimates are that up to one in three women will be a victim of gender violence at some point, and in some countries, as many as 70 percent of women are victims. Gender-based violence, one of the most egregious of human rights violations, is a public health crisis and a barrier to some of the world’s greatest challenges: eradication of HIV and AIDS, extreme poverty and political stability in some of the world’s most conflict- ridden countries. Details

Questions about our programs? Here’s how to get answers

By Jamye Cooper
DFW Executive Director

Our education team works hard each month to provide key information to enrich our members’ understanding of our featured program. But occasionally members or leaders have questions that aren’t addressed in our materials.

When that occurs, people may be contacting the program director or staff directly. Some of our funded programs report that they may be answering the same question from more than one DFW member or chapter. These can be time consuming calls for the program. But beyond that, if one program has a question, there’s a good chance others might as well.


You’ve got photos? We want them


By Laura Haight
DFW Communications Director

There are some amazing things happening in dining rooms, kitchens, living rooms and great rooms across the country. Some of them are newsworthy – perhaps to a DFW audience or sometimes for a more general interest audience.

The most common content is photos – from anniversaries, fundraisers or meetings with special speakers. Social media gives us ways to share a lot of photos that don’t find a home on our website with a large audience every day. While photos tell a story, they do need a little help in the form of captions and descriptions. It’s important for us to know who’s in the photo, what they’re doing, where they are from and why it’s significant. Large group photos of your chapter do not need to identify each person; but photos of five or fewer should include IDs with first and last name, location, title and affiliation, from left to right.



Email: Love it or hate it, it’s an important tool for DFW



By Laura Haight
DFW Communications Director

With 8000 members spread out from Bangor to Santa Cruz, DFW uses email as the most efficient way to communicate. These messages include monthly newsletters, donation acknowledgements, tax receipts and other messages.

Dining for Women is very aware of the flood of emails all of us receive on a daily basis. To that end, in 2013 we significantly reduced our communications. Most months, the average member receives one email from us – The Dish; chapter leaders get two with the CL Newsletter. We have consolidated what used to be separate emails for new programs, trips or products into these monthly communications.


DFW-branded PowerPoint presentations – a guide for presenters

By Marcie Christensen
DFW Education Coordinator

The Education Team has developed a slide show template we will use to offer each month’s program in a brief and consistent format, rather than requiring each grantee to develop a PowerPoint presentation. Beginning with our January Featured Program, presenters will have clearer options for sharing the month’s featured program in ways that work best for each chapter.


A century-old craftsman connects two Portland members


Annie Johnston (left) and Karen Faunt in the living room of Karen’s new home.

By Patricia Andersson
Chapter leader, Portland


Annie Johnston could never have predicted that getting involved with our Portland Southeast chapter of DFW would allow her to once again visit the home where all her childhood family gatherings took place.

And Karen Faunt, long-time chapter member who’s also on DFW’s Program Selection Committee – as well as being the home’s new owner — would never have guessed that by hosting a DFW potluck, she’d be able to provide a new friend with a cherished walk down memory lane.



Visiting Matrichaya

By Tina Romenesko

During the afternoon, we headed to the Munda tribal village on the outskirts of Ranchi. The projects in this village are overseen by Matrichaya graduate, Bacchan Devi. Bacchan is a shining example of the ever widening circle of women. When she heard about Matrichaya, she thought because she was uneducated, she wouldn’t qualify. Details


Regions bring chapter leaders together to chart progress

Debbie Britt, right, and Cindy Ariel, left, with the  retreat facilitators.

Debbie Britt, right, and Cindy Ariel, left, with the retreat facilitators.

By Laura Haight
Communications Director

Operational retreats are a fairly common practice among big business and this fall two DFW regions employed the practice to bring leaders together to discuss a variety of topics.

Chapter leaders in the Mid-Atlantic and West had regional retreats in October.

Debbie Britt and Cindy Ariel, co-leaders in the Mid-Atlantic, brought in two facilitators – both are professional leadership coaches as well as DFW members – to run the program, which included a discussion of what is working at the chapter level and what could be improved, an idea-sharing discussion that “harvested” ideas from each member. Details


Consult not your fears…

By Donna Shaver

The day began with a visit to the Spoken English and Computer Literacy programs for girls. Each is a three-month program. These are introductory classes, and the current group of students has had only had one week of classes. All of the girls are from impoverished families. Details


Anchal: The circle of women

By TIna Romenesko

Today is a day that all of us have been looking forward to since signing up for this Indian adventure. As we enter the Vatsalya building, we are again greeted by the lovely Jaimala. Today is a workshop day, so the women are sitting on the floor, sewing, measuring, and marking fabrics with Executive Director Colleen Cline. Details


An Ancient Scene

By Betsy Dunklin

On Nov. 9, after our visit to the Taj Mahal and on our way to the Agra Fort, we rode through an agricultural area with miles of recently harvested flat land, providing a respite from clamorous and congested Delhi. We saw no villages or houses, just the highway and farm land. In the middle of nowhere, a restaurant appeared, where we had a buffet lunch. Details

India 2013 Trip Diary: At the Taj Majal

By Donna Shaver

The astonishing white dome, barely visible in the hazy morning sky, rose above the deep red stone wall.  Just this preliminary glimpse of the iconic Taj Mahal was sufficient to bring a collective gasp of awe from our group.  We had waited in line for an hour and a half and that moment made it all worthwhile.

We piled into the bus at 6:15am for a short ride to the Taj.  Our most excellent guide, Sujata, secured our tickets and we joined the already lengthy line.  We had heard the day before that the sky would be hazy in the morning, but we decided to take our chances,  As we came at last to the red stone gate, the Taj Mahal was framed in the arch like a mirage.  I was surprised to find, in spite of the growing crowd, that each of us could capture that moment on our cameras unobstructed.

Now the Taj could be seen in all its splendor.  In the gauzy light, the Taj seemed constructed from the sky itself, floating above the earth.  We spent quite a bit of time photographing the Taj and each other in front of the Taj, interspersed with long moments contemplating its ethereal beauty. We also had a group picture taken before making our way down the steps onto long path to the world’s most famous tomb.



India 2013 trip diary: Bliss Yoga

India 2013 Yoga

By Tina Romenesko 

We were up and out of the hotel by 6:45 a.m., headed back to Kairali spa for morning yoga in their beautiful garden.  Our instructor, Swami Ganeshanand, is the founder and leader of Ananda (Bliss) Yoga.  Dressed in traditional white guru garb, he moved us through an energetic practice focused on quick repetitive movements synchronized with powerful exhalations to detoxify, energize, and open the body and mind.  The alignment cues were minimal – and as a yoga therapist – I was worried about the members of our group with lumbar and shoulder issues.  My sense is that the acute focus on anatomy in the U.S.  is a point where East and West diverge.  Perhaps the truly integrated practice is a place where the  traditional practice, with its emphasis on spirituality and energetcs, meets the modern view of wellness.

We ended with a lovely guided savasana, listening to the urban birds singing their Delhi morning songs.  As we came to standing – Swami Ji announced that we would be ending with Laughter Yoga, throwing his arms up into the air and releasing the most contagious laugh I have ever heard in my life!  We all joined in, arms extended toward each other with the Swami at the center of our circle.  “It is important every day to laugh”, he said.  “It releases stress and warms the spirit.”  Wise words from our wise teacher.

Guatemala 2013 trip diary: Saying goodbye

Travelers on last weekend with their guide - Manuel (center). Back row (L-R): Sue Fernbach, Colleen Blanchfield, Cristina Ramey, Rosemary McGee, Sheila Cook Front row: Lauren McCarthy, Manuel and Lynn McClenahan

Travelers on last weekend with their guide – Manuel (center). Back row (L-R): Sue Fernbach, Colleen Blanchfield, Cristina Ramey, Rosemary McGee, Sheila Cook Front row: Lauren McCarthy, Manuel and Lynn McClenahan

By Christine Ramey
Atlanta (GA)

Friday morning, October 11th, we are up for our last day in Panajachel where we have until 10am before our journey to Antigua begins. Some of us head off to a used Huipil Market, others take a walk to Lake Atitlan to enjoy the view one last time and several wander the main streets of Calle Santader for some last minute bargain shopping.

At 10am, we load up our bus with our trusted driver of Four Directions, Noel, and take off. Not too long after taking a final ascent up our favorite windy road of Panajachel, we come to a complete stop amidst a parking lot of traffic. We discover that the local community is protesting the high cost of electricity. This puts a less than desirable kink in our journey, as we make the decision to turn around and head back down into Panajachel to take an alternate route. What would have been a roughly 2.5-3hour trip, quickly turned into a 5 hour ride! But, hey, we can at least say we experienced everything Guatemala has to offer, right! Details

India 2013 trip diary: Getting to know each other

By Tina Romenesko

Our DFW adventure officially began on Nov. 6, Wednesday, with everyone arriving throughout the day.

We met at Grace Home – situated in a trendy area of South Delhi – and a small group of us shared dinner and got to know each other.  After breakfast on Thursday, we gathered together and shared our experiences with DFW. Taryn Walker, trip leader, also asked that we share an attribute we bring the group, and something we would like to work on personally while traveling in Inda. Details

In the US and the world, the fight for women’s rights does not end

Gloria Steinem, far right, with (from the left) Diane Wege Sherodan, Marsha Wallace, Elizabeth Howard, Jessica Neuwirth and Joan Davidson.

Gloria Steinem, far right, with (from the left) Diane Wege Sherodan, Marsha Wallace, Elizabeth Howard, Jessica Neuwirth and Joan Davidson.

By Marsha Wallace
Co-Founder, Dining for Women

My recent tour of the Northeast region was a dream come true,. It began with visits to the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, N.Y., and Susan B. Anthony’s home in Rochester, and ended with dinner at friend’s apartment in New York City, where I had the privilege of spending the evening with Gloria Steinem.

I was thrilled to be able to share the mission of DFW with Steinem, who remarked that our model of fostering meaningful connections and thought-provoking dialogue among our members “is how the feminist movement gained momentum. …Making enough room for discussion is critical for deepening our understanding of the issues.” Details


Managing photography in today’s digital age

By Laura Haight
DFW Communications Director 

Technology has put incredibly high-end photography features into the hands of everyone with a smartphone, but it hasn’t done a great job of educating this new class of photographer.

This becomes a problem for us when media calls and wants a “high-resolution” photo for print publication. This primer may help you understand some basics of managing digital photos – whether it’s personal or professional.



Guatemala 2013 trip diary: Thirteen Threads

Las Rosas

Las Rosas

By Christine Ramey
Atlanta (GA)

We started our morning leaving our hotel, Utz Jay, which today I discovered means “good home”, to walk over to the Mayan Cultural Center where we would spend time with our third organization, Oxlajuj B’atz’, or Thirteen Threads.

Receiving a warm welcome by the ED Ana Socorro Cumatz, we enter to find a room full of beautiful Mayan women and an altar that has been set up for us to participate in a Mayan ceremony. We were given some background on the altar set before us. Oct. 9 is a particularly special day as the Nawal-Energy is B’eleje’ B’atz’ signifying the female energy of the universe.  Details


Guatemala 2013 trip diary: Mercado Global


Mercado Global File Photo

Mercado Global File Photo

By Lauren McCarthy
Minneapolis (MN)

We visited Mercado Global on Wednesday and saw a different side to traditional Mayan weaving. Mercado Global has 31 cooperatives with about 340 women across Guatemala. It is a fair trade fashion nonprofit that sells wholesale to Anthropologie, Lucky Brand Jeans, Levi’s, Red Envelope, Henri Bendel, Calypso, and some Japanese retailers, among others. Although it is based in New York, the bulk of the staff are in and around Panajachel. Mercado Global’s immediate goal is to double its number of cooperatives/women in the next year but its larger objective is to change how the fashion industry operates, especially since the majority of workers in the industry are low-paid women. Details


Guatemala 2013 trip diary: Friendship Bridge

Friendship Bridge_1

By Rosemary McGee
Abington (PA)

We woke to a glorious sunny morning in Pana today and after a quick (but delicious) breakfast of fruit and banana bread headed off to visit with Friendship Bridge located around the corner on Calle Santander.

We were greeted warmly by Marta Ixtuc, Communications Coordinator and all around promoter of Friendship Bridge’s mission. She gave us a quick overview of the Microcredit Plus Loan Program, which received a DFW grant in 2007, and emphasized their dual mission of providing loans as well as education to Guatemalan women since 1998. Details

Guatemala 2013 trip diary: Starfish One by One


By Stephanie Sawyer
San Luis Obispo (CA)

After breakfast at our hotel, Utz Jay, this morning we took the one and a half block walk over to Starfish One by One. Melanie was our guide for the day and greeted our group with many hugs and warm welcomes!

After introductions to the staff and volunteers, they gave our ladies an overview of the services which include tutoring and mentorship programs for first generation high school students. Most of the girls are the first in the family to graduate due to many economic and social obstacles. This is where the work of the mentors fits in. Because parents haven’t received formal education, they often don’t understand the opportunities and benefits that can help the whole family after educating their daughters. The girls who are selected enter into a six-year leadership program. There are 220 girls currently enrolled. Since the pilot program in 2008, Starfish One by One has had 13 graduates, 7 of which are in university! For this team, it isn’t about how many, but rather how far one girl can go! Details


Guatemala 2013 Trip Diary: Totonicapan

Guatemala: Totonicapan

View of Volcán Atitlán, Volcán Tomilán & Volcán San Pedro at Lake Atitlán overlook.

By Christine Ramey

Another early day greets us as we wake up in Panajachel for breakfast at 7am. Once our bellies are full and happy, we are all gathered up and ready for our bus ride to Totonicapán, a 100-kilometer ride through very windy mountainous terrain, which left a few of us (me included) a little queasy. We are with our same guide from yesterday, Julio with Four Directions, who starts our morning off with a question, “is your heart happy today?” Which definitely puts one in a great mood! Before we took off officially from Panajachel, we stopped off at an overlook to see the gorgeous view of Lake Atitlán with three of their volcanos set as the backdrop; Volcán Atitlán, Volcán Tomilán & Volcán San Pedro. Some of the ladies even managed to get in some early shopping of jewelry and handmade figurines, as there were street vendors at the stop. Details

Guatemala 2013 trip diary: MayaWorks


By Lauren McCarthy
Minneapolis, MN

We started our tour of five visits to featured organizations at MayaWorks, spending the better part of Thursday and Friday there. MayaWorks uses traditional Mayan weaving techniques to create products for an American market, such as luggage tags and yoga bags. Jeannie Balanda is the director of MayaWorks and accompanied us both days to introduce the women, give background, and translate. We had the wonderful opportunity to meet with several groups of women weavers and seamstresses, as well as some of their students. Details

Guatemala 2013 trip diary: The gathering

The Guatemala travelers: ront row L to R- Colleen Blanchfield( Detroit, MI) Sheila Cook (Columbia, SC) Sue Garcia (Erie, CO), Karen Rawley (Weavers Way, PA), Lynn McClenahan (Portland, OR). Middle Row (L-R): Lauren McCarthy (Minneapolis, MN), Sue Fernbach (Asheville, NC) , Cindy Badocious (OH), Meg Sears (Bowling Green, OH), Cristina Ramey (Atlanta, GA), Rosemary McGee (Abbington, PA), Caarol Huckabee (Danbury, CT), Kira Walker (Atlanta, GA- trip leader). Back row: Barbara Myers (Newton, CT), Stephanie Sawyer (CA), Erica Crawford (Santa Cruz, CA).

The Guatemala travelers: Front row L to R- Colleen Blanchfield( Detroit, MI) Sheila Cook (Columbia, SC) Sue Garcia (Erie, CO), Karen Rawley (Weavers Way, PA), Lynn McClenahan (Portland, OR).
Middle Row (L-R): Lauren McCarthy (Minneapolis, MN), Sue Fernbach (Asheville, NC) , Cindy Badocious (OH), Meg Sears (Bowling Green, OH), Cristina Ramey (Atlanta, GA), Rosemary McGee (Abbington, PA), Caarol Huckabee (Danbury, CT), Kira Walker (Atlanta, GA- trip leader). Back row: Barbara Myers (Newton, CT), Stephanie Sawyer (CA), Erica Crawford (Santa Cruz, CA).

By Lauren McCarthy
Minneapolis, MN

We are all here! A few members of our group arrived early, but as of Wednesday at noon we have all made it safe and sound to Guatemala! We have had sunny and warm weather (about 75 degrees) and felt safe, although it is a bit conspicuous being with a group of 17 gringos.

After we got our luggage (and everyone’s arrived) and went through immigration and customs, we met our driver, Noah; tour leader Alfonso, and group leader Kira Walker, who were waiting for us. Details

DFW PSA running on CBS Superscreen in Times Square

Marsha Wallace, DFW Founder, in front of our video in Times Square

Marsha Wallace, DFW Co-Founder, in front of our video in Times Square

By Laura Haight
DFW Communications Director

A 10-second public service announcement for Dining for Women is now appearing on the CBS Superscreen in Times Square.

The video, which will run through Jan. 4, focuses on the future for women that Dining for Women works to secure – strong women, who are skilled and able to support healthy and happy families with hope for a better world for their daughters to grow up in.  Details

Celebrating the 2nd International Day of the Girl


By Laura Haight
DFW Communications Director

Girls are more likely to be left behind, left out, left off – just because they are girls.

This simple fact has been the focus of complex global initiatives undertaken since 2002 that include the Millennium Development Goals and UNESCO’s Education for All campaign. Since then, progress has been made toward parity in educational opportunities at the primary level, but a massive UNESCO global report on gender inequality, notes that those drop off at the secondary and college levels. Details

When we would rather close our eyes, we must open them up



Editor’s Note: Foundation Rwanda, this month’s featured program, addresses horrific situations that are the result and the legacy of the 1994 civil war. Rape, brutalization, genocide are not pretty and many of our members have been disturbed by some of the images. We provide an array of tools that can be used to learn about our programs – the video is only one. Due diligence – on all of our parts – to make sure we make members aware of sensitive content is important. But equally as important is understanding that there are horrible and ugly things in the world. We can’t help to change them, if we won’t open our eyes to them.
This post looks at the sensitive balancing act we must try to walk.


Keys to writing a good press release


By Laura Haight
Communications Director, Dining for Women

On the wall in my office there’s a map showing newspapers and periodicals in a portion of the country based on data from the 1880 Census. It is actually one of the first infographics with red triangles showing dailies, blue dots showing weeklies, squares showing periodicals and different colors denoting the number of each in the area. There is hardly a town not covered with dots, triangles and circles.


Today, there are many fewer formal publications and yet probably even more communication channels when one considers blogs, websites, tweeters and more. Nonetheless, when a group, business or non-profit wants to get information out they turn to the established media: newspapers, television stations, magazines and, perhaps, established mainstream blogs.


Often, they find they don’t get the response they expected. So here are five tips to get your press release or information noticed.


Lysa Salsbury

University of Idaho’s Women’s Center

Lysa Salsbury wrote a post on the University of Idaho’s Women’s Center blog about her first exposure to Dining for Women when a friend invited her to a meeting. Her article talked in equal parts about the concept of DFW, the featured program (One Heart) and the experience of the meeting. The Women’s Center’s mission – as stated on the blog – dovetails with ours: To promote and advocate for gender equity on campus and in the community through programs and services that educate and support all individuals in building an inclusive and compassionate society.

View Article

Cornucopia: The sights, sounds and emotions

Editor’s Note: Jeanette is the daughter of DFW co-founder Barb Collins. We asked her to be our roving reporter during the 10th anniversary weekend and record her impressions, special moments and emotions from the event. 

By Jeanette Collins

I was 13 when I first heard of Dining for Women.

Marsha Wallace and my mom, Barb Collins, have done an amazing thing: They took an idea and made it a reality. I feel honored to have grown up with what began as one small gathering and is now an international organization changing the lives of women and girls. Details

The Power of the Girl


Tara Abrahams delivers Decade of Dreams Keynote

By Laura Haight
DFW Communications Director

tara keynote2A group of journalists known as The Documentary Group were looking for ways to continue the work of a media icon – Peter Jennings – after his death in 2005. They wanted to do the work that he would have done – telling important stories that can effect change in the world.

Their focus became ending global poverty – a pervasive issue with many causes. But as they researched the topic, reaching out to experts in many different fields including international development, public health, peace and security, economic politics, one message came clear.

Educate girls. Details

The Secret Sauce for Successful Chapters


By Marcie Christensen
DFW Education Coordinator

Cari Class started her DFW chapter in Santa Cruz, CA, nearly six years ago. “That same passion for what we’re doing as an organization, which just rocks my world and gives me a deep sense of purpose in my life, is no less vibrant today than the day I started,” says Class, whose energetic presentation drew cheers and applause from conference attendees. Details

Speaking Truth to Power: How to be an Effective Advocate

Nancy Delaney 2_0 Nancy Delaney 1





By Laura Haight
DFW Communications Director

If you talked to your child’s teacher, questioned your doctor or sent a letter to the editor of your paper, then you have acted as an advocate.
“We are each advocating for a host of important community and personal issues every single day,” noted Nancy Delaney, manager of community engagement for Oxfam America. “As members of the Dining for Women community, you’ve each become advocates for the women and girls whose lives and dreams you support.” Details


Founded around food but the founder is not a cook (and other small bites)

Food – cooking it and sharing it – is a part of who we are. But it got started that way because co-founder Marsha Wallace, who admits she’s not much of a cook, liked the idea of people bringing food over to her house. For more interesting details, check out this in a Philanthropy Journal story about DFW, Marsha’s contribution to the Women for Women cookbook, and our 10th anniversary #DFW10year this weekend.

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Indonesia 2013 trip diary: Emotional connections and celebrations

Borneo 2

By Patricia Andersson
Portland, OR, chapter leader

Update #2 from Borneo: Our luck has been continuing on this trip — finding lost cameras, rains not arriving until the completion of a big celebration, and biggest of all — everyone staying happy and healthy. We’ve just wound up three amazing days with ASRI/Health in Harmony in Sukandana, and are heading off tomorrow to visit the orangutans. In Indonesian, the word orang-utan means “person of the forest” and indeed their word for person is orang, which makes it an easy one to remember. As always, I’m trying to learn a bit of the local language, and have down a few phrases, which I trot out much to the amusement of the local “orangs.” Occasionally I unknowingly toss in a little Spanish too, having only one file in my brain called “foreign language.” Big laughs, at my expense. Details

Vietnam 2013 trip diary: Rolling up our sleeves in the kitchen

Hoi An Cooking Class 2 Hoi An Cooking Class

By Tina Yoppolo
Sylvania, OH

We began our day with a walking tour of Old Town Hoi An. Well preserved temples, pagodas and ancient homes line the vibrant narrow streets. UNESCO has named this a World Cultural Heritage Site. Centuries old structures gave us the feeling of walking through 16th century Viet Nam. Our guide bravely took us through the Hoi An market to look, not shop! The bustling market was bursting with exotic fresh fruits, vegetables fish ,and meats. Open kitchens serving fresh local dishes, flowers, and spices all contributed to the visual and aromatic delights. Artisans sold their crafts, vendors offered silk scarves, kitchen utensils and so much more. Details

Vietnam 2013 trip diary: Visiting Children of Vietnam

lunch w COV

By Lynn O’Connell
Alexandria, VA chapter member

Living in Washington, DC, I tend to think of a nation or a destination in terms of its monuments and memorials.  So, during this week in Vietnam, as I have seen 200-foot tall Buddhas, statues, etc., I immediately assume “National Monument” and try to find out what it is in my guidebook or from my Vietnamese contacts at home.  Finally, one Vietnamese friend texted, “Remember, very few national treasures remain in Vietnam today.” Details