Because we live in one of the world’s wealthiest nations, it’s astonishing that so many people here — children, families, and the elderly — are malnourished or simply don’t get enough to eat. In 2010 (the most recent year for which statistics are available), 17.6 million households were food insecure, the highest number ever recorded in the U.S. In a country that prides itself on fairness and equal opportunity, how can there be so many people who are hungry? While we may not know the exact answer, there are hundreds of things that we can do to help.
Click here to see the 48 Things You Can Do to Fight Hunger in America (Slideshow)
A couple of our editors used to work for a website called Always Hungry NY (since folded into The Daily Meal). The sense of that name was of always having an appetite for more and better gustatory delights. For all too many people, though, "always hungry" describes not a pleasant state of craving but a harsh reality.
The Daily Meal is dedicated to good things to eat and drink, on every level, from street food to sublime cuisine, but we frankly don't spend as much time as we should thinking about those to whom, as Paul Simon once put it, "The evening meal is negotiable, if there is one." With the weather taking a cold turn and the holidays, with their attendant feasting, fast approaching, things can become even more difficult for those less fortunate.
We were inspired when we read that last year, Oct. 24 was designated as Food Day by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, with one of its goals being to "expand access to food and alleviate hunger," so we decided to think about ways in which we might help do just that.
We searched the Internet and canvassed friends and colleagues and came up with 48 ideas for things that almost any of us can do right now to start making a difference. Some are as simple as clicking a link, sending a tweet, or listening to music; others are as time-consuming and collaborative as planting and tending a garden or holding a bake sale. There are products to buy, places to donate, things to watch. You can even make a contribution by going bowling, getting a haircut, or taking a quiz. All these actions will, to a greater or lesser extent, put food on somebody's table. They aren't answers to the question posed in the first paragraph. They aren't definitive solutions to the problem. But they're a start.
There's a corny old saying about how it's better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness. We'd add that it's better to deliver dinner for Meals on Wheels or text a cellphone donation to Imagine: There's No Hunger or support farm-food processing through Adopt-an-Acre than to simply eat another meatball slider or chutoro-maki or sole meunière without a second thought for those to whom hunger is an always thing.
What does that old Sunday morning PSA say? "The more you know..."? You may be surprised to find out which 10 American cities are suffering the worst from food hardship and which prominent celebrities are doing their part to turn things around. Learn more by reading 10 American Cities That Are Going Hungry and find some inspiration in the unselfish acts of others in 10 Celebrities Fighting Hunger in America.
But don't stop with what you'll find here. There are hundreds upon hundreds of other things you can do to make a difference. If you're actively involved in hunger relief in ways we haven't mentioned, know of other worthwhile programs, or just have some good ideas that you think can be acted upon, let us know in the comments below.
Colman Andrews is The Daily Meal's editorial director. Follow him on Twitter @Colmanandrews.
Research by Haley Willard, assistant editor. Follow her on Twitter at @haleywillard.
Ten Things You Can Do to Fight World Hunger
May 13, 2009
This monthly feature was conceived by writer and Nation editorial board member Walter Mosley as a kind of do-it-yourself opinion and action device. Most often “Ten Things” will offer a brief list of recommendations for accomplishing a desired political or social end, sometimes bringing to light something generally unknown. The purpose of the feature is to go to the heart of issues in a stripped-down, active and informed way. After getting our visiting expert–or everyday citizen–to construct the list, we will interview that person and post a brief online version of “Ten Things,” with links to relevant websites, books or other information. Readers who wish to propose ideas for “Ten Things” should e-mail us at [email protected] or use the e-form at the bottom of this page.
Our planet produces enough food to feed its more than 960 million undernourished people. The basic cause of global hunger is not underproduction it is a production and distribution system that treats food as a commodity rather than a human right. In developing countries huge agribusinesses, fat with government subsidies, sell their unsustainable (and sometimes genetically modified) products at a reduced rate, thus making it impossible for local farmers to compete. Farmers who can’t compete can’t feed their own families or work their own fields. Hunger becomes both the cause and effect of poverty.
Ruth Messinger, president of American Jewish World Service, says sending food aid is not a sustainable way to end hunger. Rather, people must be empowered to raise their own food. She proposes Ten Things we can do to help solve the world’s growing hunger problem.
Write letters to the editor and op-ed articles in your local paper calling on the government to cut or end subsidies that encourage large agribusinesses to overproduce grains and dump their surpluses on the developing world at sub-market prices. This ultimately places poor communities at the mercy of volatile global commodity prices. Learn more at The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy for more information.
Ask your representatives in Congress to demand that more foreign food aid be in the form of cash and training rather than food. Farmers in the global South know how to grow food but lack the resources, inputs and tools to farm effectively, develop markets and compete in the world marketplace.
Learn the specifics of what makes products “fair trade.” Buy them where available. Download “Green America’s Guide to Fair Trade” for a definition of “fair trade” and a list of organizations that follow these specifications.
Conserve energy. With a reduced demand for fuel, global commodity prices–which spiked as the cost of fuel for shipping rose dramatically last year–can remain more stable. This is important because while sending food to poor countries is not the ultimate solution for ending hunger, Food Aid has a role to play due to the desire for variety in food supplies. And, more importantly, natural disasters or political instability will always cause humanitarian emergencies where the flow of aid is crucial.
Pressure the Obama administration to come up with a renewable energy policy that does not stress ethanol and other biofuels. As demand for biofuels has grown over the past few years, farmers in the developed and developing worlds have set aside more and more land for fuel production, degrading the environment and reducing food for human consumption.
Eat less meat. Every pound of meat produced requires sixteen pounds of grain food given to farm animals each year could feed the world’s hungry with plenty to spare. Search “Diet for a Small Planet” and “We Feed the World”.
Support grassroots projects that advance sustainable agriculture at the community level. Organizations like American Jewish World Service partner with grassroots organizations in the global South that use sustainable farming techniques.
Persuade your local editorial writers to cover hunger in a way that focuses on economic rights rather than food scarcity. Emphasize that the underlying causes of poverty are political instability, joblessness, gender inequality, illiteracy and limited access to education, loss of land, disenfranchisement, forced migration and preventable epidemics. These hamper local food production and sustainable development. Click here for current coverage.
Demand a worldwide reduction in the sale of pesticides, herbicides and genetically modified seeds, which benefit large agribusinesses like Monsanto because they do not reproduce, forcing farmers to purchase new seeds year after year. Watch Future of Food for more information.
Advocate for food security as a human right. Even though the United Nations has declared that nutrition is a universal right, many member nations have adopted policies that reinforce a global system whereby food is treated as a commodity to be bought and sold by speculators.
Read “The Politics of Hunger.” Remember that global hunger is a local problem, a feminist problem, a socioeconomic problem and, most urgently, a political problem that can be overcome.
CONCEIVED by WALTER MOSLEY with research by Rae Gomes
The Nation Twitter Founded by abolitionists in 1865, The Nation has chronicled the breadth and depth of political and cultural life, from the debut of the telegraph to the rise of Twitter, serving as a critical, independent, and progressive voice in American journalism.
I was once in need of a food pantry. I was between jobs and money was non existent. I was psyched to find a food pantry near me, I was that in need. I was however mortified. I was handed a brown paper bag and had to walk down a handout line of boy scouts. One young man would put corn in my bag the next boy would give me bread and so on. It was humiliating. Wanting to teach your kids to help others is great. But here I was a grown man taking handouts from a line of kids. I’m going to form a pantry in my area that does not do things like that to adults who are already struggling with being unemployed or whatever their situation. Little Johnny can earn his community service badge somewhere else and little and the little kids and their soccer mom can feel good about themselves somewhere else.
I’m glad you found a pantry to help you during that transition. While I respect your right to feel however you feel about this, I do know as a parent that children really want to (and like to) help adults, since they are more often in the position of receiving help themselves. I’m sorry to hear you felt humiliated by their help, but I’m guessing they were very grateful for the chance to give it. Teaching children the power of service–and that everyone needs help sometimes, kids and grown-ups–is so important.
8 Best Ways to Combat Food Insecurity in Your Community
Whether you volunteer or donate, you can make a difference in the lives of those around you.
Hunger is an all-too-common issue in the United States. Food insecurity has increased sharply in America due to the widespread economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving laid off, furloughed, and reduced-time workers struggling to put food on the table.
It&rsquos estimated that as many as 54.3 million people won&rsquot have access to enough food for their households this year&mdashup from 37 million pre-pandemic. That's over 16% of the country. In addition to turning to federal support, families have depended on local food banks to fill the gaps. These organizations face declines in donations and volunteers, but continue to do the hard work needed to help their communities.
Food insecurity can't be solved with just one approach&sbquo and no one form of aid is automatically better than another. So no matter what you're able to do in your community&mdashvolunteer, donate, advocate, organize&mdashany work put toward food justice gets us one step closer to overcoming the problem for good. Here's how you can fight food insecurity and make a difference in your area.
More About the Greater Boston Food Bank
What are the greatest needs your food bank is helping meet in our local community?
One in 10 people in Eastern Massachusetts is food insecure, and one in eight is a child. The Greater Boston Food Bank provides more than 48 million healthy meals a year through its network of 530 member food pantries, meal programs and shelters across Eastern Massachusetts, serving more than 140,000 people at risk of hunger a month.
What special programs does this food bank offer to members of the community (e.g., life skills classes, mobile food bank, etc.)
The Greater Boston Food bank operates four direct service programs: Mobile Markets, School-based Pantries, Brown Bag for Seniors, and Commodity Supplemental Food Program for Seniors at nearly 70 sites across Eastern Massachusetts.
How are campaigns like Walmart’s “Fight Hunger. Spark Change.” making a difference in the fight against hunger in America?
Walmart’s campaign raises money and awareness in the fight against hunger in America. Last year, The Greater Boston Food Bank benefited from $200,000 raised through “Fight Hunger. Spark Change.”
What specific benefits are you seeing from the campaign here at this food bank and in our local area?
Last year, The Greater Boston Food Bank benefited from $200,000 raised through “Fight Hunger. Spark Change.” In addition last year, Walmart Foundation grants directly benefited two of our member agencies.
What’s something about food insecurity in America or even our local community that people might be surprised to know?
About a third of the people struggling with hunger in Eastern Massachusetts earn too much to qualify for any federal assistance programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps). These are hardworking, low-income people who earn too much for federal assistance but not enough to meet their basic expenses and feed themselves and their families.
What do you recommend for members of our community who want to get involved and help with the fight against, but don’t know where to start?
People can give food, money or time. They can do so by supporting their local food pantry or by supporting The Greater Boston Food Bank. Wherever and however they choose to contribute to the fight against hunger will help make a difference.
Are you looking for additional volunteer help here at your food bank? What kind of volunteer services do you need most to meet the community’s needs?
The Greater Boston Food Bank offers year-round volunteer opportunities, from sorting donating food to helping put together food packages. You can visit our website at gbfb.org to learn more and to sign up to volunteer.
What is World Food Day?
Oct. 16 is World Food Day 2018, a day that the FAO has designated to bring attention to how governments and individuals can help combat world hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity.
On Oct. 16, 1945, representatives from 42 countries gathered in Quebec, Canada, to create the FAO. World Food Day commemorates the group's founding, celebrates the progress that has been made and highlights the need to do much more to fight hunger-related issues including malnutrition and food insecurity.
The U.N. has set a goal of achieving zero hunger worldwide by 2030, and on World Food Day the FAO asks governments, farmers, organizations and individuals to get involved in working toward a world where everyone has reliable access to enough nutritious food — i.e. food security. With that goal in mind, the World Food Day slogan is "Our actions are our future."
There are World Food Day events around the world, including a ceremony and panel at the FAO headquarters in Rome. Many local, national and global anti-hunger groups are holding events as well.
For example, to celebrate World Food Day this year, the group Rise Against Hunger will attempt to break the Guinness World Record of the most people assembling hunger relief packages simultaneously at multiple locations, and they're asking for individuals to help.
Even those who can't make it to an official World Food Day event can still help support the cause of ending world hunger. Here are five ways simple ways to help.
1. Donate food.
Individuals and businesses can help their local communities by donating food to food banks and community organizations. The anti-hunger organization Feeding America allows people to search by zip code for local food banks.
2. Volunteer time.
According to Feeding America, 51 percent of all food programs rely entirely on volunteers, so giving time is a great way to help bolster food security.
3. Raise awareness.
The FAO encourages people to talk to friends, family and coworkers about the zero hunger goal. Spreading the word can start with something as simple as tagging social media posts with #ZeroHunger.
4. Waste less food.
Wasting less food is one of the keys to creating a world without hunger, according to the FAO. Only buying what is needed, eating leftovers and using scraps are three possible ways to waste less.
5. Give money.
While donating food and time are great way to help on the local level, giving money is probably the most efficient way to help fight hunger globally. The UN's World Food Programme and Action Against Hunger are two large organizations fighting world hunger.
For more ways individuals can help, check out the What you can do to help achieve #zerohunger PDF from the FAO. And happy World Food Day!
Have other ideas?
Reach out and let us know
Have we missed anything in our guide? Reach out and let us know!
Connect WITH OUR SOCIAL ACTION TEAM
Fighting Hunger Together
With the economy getting hit hard, Walmart is helping to fight hunger by donating over over 42 million meals to local food banks. You can actually find your local community and vote for them and they could also be included. Voting ends on April 30th for that. Alongside Walmart with this initiative, you’ll find Conagra, Kraft, Kelloggs, and General Mills also helping out. By simply purchasing products from the Fighting Hunger circular and following the very easy directions, you’ll be able to activate a donation!!
I don’t think I have to tell you how important this topic is to me. I’ve discussed it many times so I do hope that you guys take advantage of these simple things you can do to help fight hunger. Even taking this current campaign out of it….there are so many ways for you to support your local food banks. You could simply buy an extra few cans at grocery shopping time every week and then take those and donate them. Doing something is better than doing nothing!
/>Disclosure: I am an official Walmart Mom. Follow me and my fellow Walmart Moms as we share our experiences and ideas! Walmart has provided me with compensation and gift card in return for my time & efforts to create this post. My participation in this program is voluntary and my opinions are my own, always have been, always will be.
12 Days, 12 Ways to Fight Poverty in America
BillMoyers.com is proud to collaborate with TalkPoverty.org as we focus on poverty coverage over the next two weeks. Every day, visit BillMoyers.com to discover a new action you can take to help turn the tide in the fight against poverty.
A few hundred marchers take part in a Martin Luther King Day march and rally to the Capitol in Olympia, Wash., Monday, Jan. 15, 2007. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
But as my friend and colleague at the Center for American Progress, Melissa Boteach, constantly says when she talks about poverty with activists — we can’t simply play defense, we’ve got to stay on offense.
Melissa is right, and frankly, with more than 1 in 3 Americans living below twice the poverty line — on less than about $37,000 annually for a family of three — it’s going to take a visible, disruptive and nonviolent movement if we are to create an economy that is truly defined by opportunity as well as a robust safety net that is there for us when we need it. To some extent whether it’s Republicans or Democrats who are in the majority, our task remains the same: we must build that movement.
In the two weeks ahead, BillMoyers.com will feature a post every day by an anti-poverty leader. Every day, one of these contributors will offer an action you can take to advocate for people who are struggling and to help build the movement we so urgently need.
Beyond these two weeks, I hope you will keep reading BillMoyers.com, which has long demonstrated its commitment to poverty-related issues. Sign-up, too, for TalkPoverty.org weekly emails, and we will continue to bring you the voices and ideas of people who are struggling in poverty as well as posts by other anti-poverty leaders.
There is nothing inevitable about poverty. The only questions that remain are the same ones we have faced for so long: are we committed to dramatically reducing poverty? And, if so, what are we willing to do to advance our goal?
Over the next 12 days, we hope the ideas offered by our contributors will provide valuable openings for your activism. We’ll keep adding to the list each day below. You can bookmark this page to see all the big ideas. Please share this link and your thoughts below in the comments and via Twitter using #12Days.
The views expressed in these posts are the author’s alone, and presented here to offer a variety of perspectives to our readers.
A stronger nation
Through providing food, food banks do so much more than feed people — they help all members of a community receive the fuel they need to be their best. Developing our network of food banks is helping build stronger communities meal by meal.
It’s our goal to end hunger in our country, but we can’t do it alone we need your help. Go online to locate your local food bank, find out more about hunger where you live and see how you can help. Working together, we can end hunger and create a better, stronger America for us all.