There are few initiatives that evoke as much vigor and collaborative spirit as the fight against hunger. As communities engage to provide sustainable solutions and educate others about food security, Food & Nutrition celebrates Hunger Action Month this September with a nod to organizations who champion the cause of food for all.
AARP and AARP Foundation
Representing 37 million people age 50 and older, the American Association of Retired Persons and its affiliated charity, the AARP Foundation, have championed causes to fight hunger in one of the country’s least food-secure populations. These organizations work with state and community partners and volunteers to help older adults enroll in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commission research on the causes and consequences of senior hunger, and award grants to help develop or expand sustainable solutions for older-adult anti-hunger programs that have the potential to be scaled.
Through its Drive to End Hunger campaign, AARP and its Foundation not only raise awareness about food insecurity among older people, but have provided 22.9 million meals through donations and volunteer efforts since the program launched in 2011.
AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, which provides free tax-filing assistance to low- and middle-income seniors, has helped more than 50 million seniors since it began in 1968.
Community outreach, nutrition education, community events
A network of more than 200 food banks nationwide, Feeding America serves 37 million people, including nearly 14 million children and 3 million seniors, through local agencies such as food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters and after-school programs.
Each year, these agencies collectively distribute nearly 3.4 billion pounds of food and grocery products — two-thirds of which are classified as “foods to encourage,” namely fruits and vegetables, protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy. From classes on how to purchase healthy foods on a limited budget to engaging communities in growing their own fresh foods, more than 80 percent of Feeding America food banks provide nutrition education programs. In addition, the organization’s network operates programs that promote self-sufficiency, educates the public about the problem of hunger and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry.
In 2012, Feeding America was named the fourth largest charity in the U.S. by Forbes. It invests 97 percent of all donations into programs and services for people in need.
Food rescue, driving, loading, repacking, community outreach
Founded at a time when many said the U.S. couldn’t afford to invest in both “bookend generations,” this organization supports public policy and programs that unite the nation’s oldest and youngest citizens — from older gardeners teaching younger people how to grow food to connecting Meals On Wheels delivery with driver’s education classes, as well as providing seed grants to urban gardens in underserved areas.
Generations United does not oversee direct programming, but provides free how-to manuals, webinars, toolkits and publications for starting new initiatives, plus an extensive directory where people can find ways to get involved through existing programs in their communities.
Last year, it launched GrandparentsDay.org to promote Grandparents Day (September 8) as a time of intergenerational activism, with many communities working on hunger activities.
Famous journalist Daniel Schorr delivered the keynote address at Generations United’s first conference after the original speaker, researcher Lisbeth Schorr, lost her voice. She later joked that it was one of the only times her husband readsomeone else’s words — the others being when he played small roles in films.
No direct programming, but has a volunteer program directory on its website
Meals On Wheels
Representing community-based senior nutrition programs across the country, the Meals On Wheels Association of America serves approximately 1 million meals a day to the nation’s seniors through two methods of food distribution: direct delivery to homebound seniors and adults with disabilities, and congregate meals served in group settings such as a community center or long-term care facility.
For more than half of Meals On Wheels clients — people at high risk for hunger and food insecurity, including individuals over the age of 60, at or near poverty, of a minority population and unable to cook or shop for food — the one meal they receive often constitutes most of the food they will have for the day. In addition, Meals On Wheels and congregate programs allow seniors to live in their own homes for as long as possible and avert far more costly alternatives such as hospitals and nursing home care services.
More than 1.7 million people volunteer for Meals On Wheels, making them the largest group of volunteers in the U.S.
Meal preparation, packaging or delivery, clerical support, special events
Follow Meals on Wheels
Share Our Strength
Founded nearly 30 years ago with the belief that everyone has a strength to share in the global fight against hunger and poverty, today, Share Our Strength focuses on making No Kid Hungry a reality in America. Because families at risk of hunger need access to food and the skills to make healthy meals with their resources, nutrition education is a key part of the No Kid Hungry campaign.
Through its Cooking Matters program, nutrition educators and chefs equip low-income families with skills to stretch their food budgets, shop smarter, make healthier food choices and cook delicious, affordable meals.
Working together to identify and eliminate barriers that may prevent children from accessing food and nutrition resources, Share Our Strength’s partnerships support
not only direct programming, but also the online No Kids Hungry Center for Best Practices, offering case studies, white papers, guides and toolkits.
Last year, more than 750 nutrition educators helped low-income families learn skills like reading food labels in the store, identifying whole grains and using MyPlate to guide family meals.
Community event planning, nutrition education, fundraising, advocacy
By the end of World War II, many regions of the world lay in ruins and there was urgent need for food, medicine and clothing. UNICEF began its operations in Europe and, at the peak of its activities there, provided 6 million children with daily meals and milk, earning UNICEF the nickname “milkman to the world.”
Today UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization in the world. Nutrition is a key component to its work, whether through an emergency feeding program during a disaster or famine or an established community clinic offering nutrition education and support to young mothers. UNICEF is the world’s largest supplier of ready-to-use therapeutic food for malnourished children and helped increase the world’s supply of therapeutic food by more than 9,000 percent between 2008 and 2012.
In the last two decades, UNICEF has helped reduce the number of preventable under-five child deaths by more than 40 percent.
Fundraising, advocacy, education
World Food Programme
Created as an “experimental” initiative more than 50 years ago, the World Food Programme serves the world’s least food secure in regions where hunger kills more people every year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Last year, the organization distributed 3.5 million metric tons of food to 97 million people in 80 countries.
In addition to its emergency response networks, the World Food Programme works to prevent hunger through helping communities build assets, educate its people and develop stronger and more dynamic infrastructures — from establishing environmental sustainability and connecting farmers with markets to supporting breastfeeding initiatives and introducing school meal programs. The World Food Programme is funded entirely by voluntary donations.
Every day around the globe, 2,500 World Food Programme logistics staff members manage an average of 5,000 trucks, 30 ships and 50 aircraft; a network of 650 warehouses and a fleet of approximately 700 all-terrain trucks.
Fundraising, advocacy, education