When Eli Winkelman met former President Bill Clinton after a speech at Claremont College, she presented him with a foil-wrapped loaf of challah. That interaction got her and her organization, Challah for Hunger, a mention in Clinton’s book “Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World.”
“I still can’t believe I had the chutzpah to do it,” said the outgoing redhead. Winkelman started Challah for Hunger in her first year at Scripps College, when she and a friend collaborated to sell the bread to raise money for Darfur.
“It only takes one successful sale to bring enough money in to pay for ingredients for next time,” said Winkelman. Word of mouth soon spread to other colleges where students were eager to start their own chapters. Today there are branches of Challah for Hunger in 32 sites worldwide, including eight chapters in New York, and the organization has raised more than $150,000 since its inception. Each chapter is asked to donate 50 percent of proceeds from challah sales to the Sudan Relief and Advocacy Fund at the American Jewish World Service, and the other half to an organization of its choosing.
After graduating college, Winkelman, a native of Austin, Texas, worked for Hillel and then the environmental group Hazon before dedicating herself full time to running Challah for Hunger. According to Winkelman, anyone looking to open a chapter needs just three things: a kitchen, people to make the challah and people to buy it. She works with every chapter on getting the operation off the ground and lends guidance as it continues.
“There’s something really special about doing something hands on,” she said, “taking these ingredients and making them into something real.”
Political aspirations: Winkelman worked a short stint on Hillary Clinton’s primary campaign in 2008.
Family ties: Winkelman, an avid baker in high school, learned her prized challah recipe from her mother.
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