Growing up, Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack knew there would always be food on the table. Despite her family being low-income, her mother promised they would never go hungry, and made sure the family ate nutritious, healthy meals on a daily basis. Now, the Highlands Ranch-based blogger and co-author of the Muy Bueno Cookbook is dedicated to the No Kid Hungry campaign, which fights to end the child hunger problem in the United States. This holiday season she’s hosting a private “tamalada” (a tamale-making party) to spread the word, and encourage others to give back to those in need.

“Every year, I try to do some kind of fundraiser [for the No Kid Hungry campaign],” Marquez-Sharpnack says. “And every year, I also host a tamalada. This year, I figured it’d be fun to roll both of them into one.”

Yvette Marquez Sharpnack and her mother, Evangelina, at a previous tamalada. Photo courtesy of Yvette Marquez Sharpnack.

Marquez-Sharpnack has invited close friends and family to partake in the party on December 17, where they will make fresh tamales and enjoy each other’s camaraderie. A small tree will be set up at the event for attendees to clip donations to the branches and, at noon, Marquez-Sharpnack will host a Facebook Live video on her Muy Bueno Cookbook Facebook page to give people a behind-the-scenes look at the tamalada and inform the public about the No Kid Hungry campaign.

“That’s what I love to be able to do,” she says. “To inspire people to give back, to do what they can. Especially during this time of year, when kids are out on Christmas break, [many of them] are not getting fed because they’re used to getting those meals at school. That’s what really hits home for me: knowing that there are kids out there [who] are hungry this time of year.”

Thirteen million children in the United States struggle with hunger, according to No Kid Hungry. And about 20 percent of children under eighteen struggle with hunger in Colorado. Growing up in El Paso, Texas, Marquez-Sharpnack knew a number of other children who relied on food stamps to survive, but they would typically spend the stamps on junk food like chips and soda. “There are kids who are literally not starving, but they are just eating junk food, not eating the proper meals, and buying what they can because they don’t know how to make anything else,” says Marquez-Sharpnack. “So many times, kids are going to school starving, and not being able to learn because they’re hungry, and they depend on the school to feed them.”

But every $10 donated can connect a child to 100 meals, according to No Kid Hungry. Marquez-Sharpnack says she hopes to inspire others to host their own tamaladas, and events designed to give back to those less fortunate.

“‘Tis the season for tamales,” she says. “In my culture, people are getting together to host their own tamalada, so hopefully it inspires them to do something like this. Yes, we can get together with friends and family just to have a good time, but at the same time, we can be doing something good for other people.”

To donate to the the tamalada fundraiser, follow this link.