Dining for Women: Changing the World One Dinner at a Time

foodBy Lysa Salsbury

A few weeks ago, I received an invitation from a friend inviting me to dinner. This wasn’t just any old dinner invitation, however. Theresa had recently started a chapter of Dining for Women here in Moscow, Idaho.

Theresa learned about the organization from a friend in Portland. Dining for Women uses the Giving Circle model to help women and children in the most poverty-stricken regions around the world. Theresa was deeply inspired when she learned about the many groups of women and children that Dining for Women has sponsored in the 11 years since its founding. An avid traveler and consummate foodie, the mission of the organization spoke deeply to her, and aligned with her personal values. Dining for Women provides financial support for women around the world who are working to improve the social and economic welfare of their communities.

Breaking Ground June 2013Conceived and founded by Marsha Wallace, a former obstetrics nurse and mother of four from Greenville, South Carolina, Dining for Women is a dinner giving circle. Chapter members “dine in” together as a chapter once a month, each bringing a dish to share. They pool their “dining out” dollars (what they would have spent if they had eaten out at a restaurant) and send them to Dining for Women, who in turn funds development programs that empower women worldwide. Dining for Women combines all donations from hundreds of chapters to support carefully selected international programs each month. They fund grassroots programs in education, health care, vocational training, micro-credit loans, and economic development. These programs are aimed at improving living conditions for women and their families, by providing the tools they need to make lasting change.

IMG_7529Last night, 11 of us enjoyed a fantastic evening of sharing home-cooked dishes and local wines, making new friends, and learning about Dining for Women’s Program of the Month. This month, our collective donations will go to a group in Nepal called One Heart World-Wide. The mission of One Heart World-Wide is to decrease maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity in remote rural areas. The organization is creating a “Network of Safety” to improve 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. This successful program provides community educational visits, vitamin supplements, birthing kits, and cell phones for emergency labor situations. A grant of $50,000 from Dining for Women will support the Network of Safety program by helping to fund four master trainers’ salaries and benefits for one year, training expenses and supplies for 800 trainees, and 2,000 birthing kits, which include sterile gloves, plastic sheeting, razor blades, string, and soap.

One Heart 2013
To date, Dining for Women has more than 400 chapters, engaging over 9,200 active members, and is making a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of women and girls living in the most extreme poverty in more than 30 countries around the globe. To date, Dining for Women has raised nearly $2.5 million for grassroots development projects, one dinner at a time.

For more information, please visit Dining for Women’s website. Please also see the Moscow Women’s Giving Circle for other opportunities to become involved in local women-centered philanthropy initiatives.