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Purpose Prize Fellow 2013
Every Friday, retired Naval officer Claire Bloom gives groceries to hungry children to get them through the weekends.
In 2011, Claire Bloom learned from a school teacher in her Dover, NH, community that many local children enrolled in the free school lunch program endure 68 hours of hunger every weekend between Friday lunch and Monday breakfast.
“From the instant I heard her say that, I knew that I could not know this and continue on my life doing nothing about it,” she says. The first woman to be the second in command of the USS Constitution, Bloom had founded and operated two companies after her Navy retirement in 1998. She knew that she could take the knowledge she learned during those decades to answer a social need through a meaningful encore career.
In October 2011, Bloom delivered the first 19 bags of food to elementary school children in Dover. Today, End 68 Hours of Hunger delivers 550 bags of food to children in 13 New England communities.
Every Friday, the food is tucked into backpacks for the children, who remain anonymous to avoid stigma. Their teachers report that they’re doing better in school and have fewer behavioral problems than before, an impact that mirrors research findings.
“It is clear to me that the skills and abilities I mastered through my career prepared me to start and to run this organization,” Bloom says of her encore calling. “I started the program pledging that 100% of the funds I collected would be used to purchase food, and I have maintained that commitment.”