Even though I'm almost 30 minutes late for our interview (went to the wrong address, whoops!), Ciara greets me with a giant hug and a big, genuine smile. We're downtown at the Institute of Culinary Education, and the singing-dancing superstar has just finished cooking a gigantic dinner for City Harvest, an organization that provides meals to New Yorkers facing hunger.
Between the warmth of Ciara's hug, the intoxicating smell of melted butter and freshly baked pie, and the sweet giving-back vibes in the room, it feels like I've stumbled onto Thanksgiving in heaven. Except instead of my real mom, I'm suddenly with a mother who does this on a regular basis:
Today, Ciara's talking about how she's combining what she loves about motherhood with her power as a superstar by being the spokesperson for Unilever and Feeding America's #ShareAMeal initiative.
"Being a mom means something like this campaign speaks even deeper to my heart," says Ciara. "I can't even think about my son not having a meal, and because of that, I want to be able to use my voice to be able to go out there and make a difference."
The #ShareAMeal campaign wants to help out the one in every five children who go to bed hungry at night by providing over a million meals this year. "Growing up, I would see all those commercials about childhood hunger in third-world countries, and you'd think it's only happening there," says Ciara. "But it's happening here. Someone in your own neighborhood might be suffering."
With the holidays quickly approaching, Ciara (who tells me that her favorite Christmas song is "This Christmas"—and even sings a few bars), is looking forward to eating all of her favorite holiday foods. "I love Thanksgiving," she says. "I love the candied yams, macaroni and cheese, and turkey legs. I love this time of the year because it's not an everyday meal. I get excited." And of course, she's also looking forward to spending time with the people she loves and inspiring those around her to take some time to give back (including other musicians and celebrities). "I think it's important that, in addition to the fashion and the selfies, we take a moment to use our platforms to make a difference."
Speaking of selfies, Unilever has made them just one of the ways you can help out the cause: When you share a photo with the hashtag #ShareAMeal, Unilever will donate one meal to Feeding America. If you're camera-shy, you can also just retweet or share a photo of an empty plate with the hashtag.
Ciara and I take a selfie (her suggestion, not mine!) to contribute to the campaign right then and there:
Before we wrap up, Ciara leans in and shares one last thing: "I realize how privileged I am," she says, "and I want to make sure I am humble and grateful for all these opportunities. I'm grateful for being able to have food on my table and being able to help those who don't."
Caitlin Abber is the Senior Editor of WomensHealthMag.com. Follow her on Twitter.