Feeding America’s Hungry: Do Your Contributions Really Help Non-Profits Serve Others?

If you’ve ever volunteered, donated, or supported any charity organization, you’ve likely heard statements like: “We provide food to millions of families worldwide”. Or, “because of your generous donation of “x” amount, you’ll provide “y” number of meals for families in need”.

But, have you ever wondered if the claims are true?

We believe donating, volunteering, or supporting any organization is an amazing thing. It does more than provide food and essentials for people in need. It provides hope. Hope to those who sometimes feel hopeless.

So, it’s only natural that you’d want to ensure your contribution is spent where it will make the most impact.

That’s why today we’re taking you behind the scenes, so you can see how your donations help provide food and essentials to families all over the world.

Donors, Donors, Donors

Here at Feed the Children, there are three important donations made:

  • The donor who donates money.
  • The corporate partners who donate resources.
  • The volunteer who donates time.

These three components allow us to create what we call our 7x multiplier.

Here’s what that means.

Mary is someone who donates $100 to our organization. Marcus, a volunteer, has made a commitment to help once a week in one of our distribution centers. And General Mills, one of our corporate partners donates 2,000 boxes of cereal with an offer to sell 20,000 more boxes of cereal at pennies on the box.

Mary’s $100 enables us to purchase the discounted boxes of cereal from General Mills. Those boxes of cereal then arrive by one of our trucks to the Distribution Centers we have placed around the United States.

When those donations arrive, Marcus spends his donated hours unpacking pallets and adding the cereal to hundreds of boxes. Those boxes are then sent to our community partners, such as The Boys & Girls Club.

This process is then repeated.

Thousands of donors like Mary send cash, multiplying all the other contributions as we transform money into food and essentials with the help of volunteers and partners.

So, when we say “your generous donation of x amount helps provide food and essentials to families worldwide”… we meant it.

Here’s What To Do Next

Without you, there is no us. Your donations are the hands and feet that serve others both domestically and internationally.

We have once central vision: to create a world where no child goes to bed hungry.

Every day we work to make sure this vision is a reality. But we can’t do it alone.

It takes hard work, dedication, focus, and everyone working together.

Will you help make that vision a reality? We’re always looking for donors, volunteers, and corporate partners who share in our mission: to provide hope and resources for those without life’s essential.

 

Christmas in July: How Our Partnership with Balsam Hill Will Help Feed Hungry Children

When you think of the holiday season, you think about spreading neighborly cheer and giving back to those in need. Now, with the support of our partner Balsam Hill, we can do that all year round!

Whether it’s in the middle of July, or the holiday season, we believe no child should go to bed hungry. With more than 6.5 million children in the U.S. living in food-insecure households, many may not know where they’ll get their next meal. But we can do something about it. We can work together to break the cycle of poverty. It’s no small task, but we believe that with collaboration, we can make a difference.

By joining forces through Balsam Hill’s annual Christmas in July campaign, our collective efforts will further our mission of providing hope and resources to those without life essentials.

Getting involved is easy! Here’s how you can join our cause:

You can give back by liking, reacting, and sharing our joint Facebook posts to help raise awareness. Feed the Children will be featured on Balsam Hill’s Facebook page from July 9 to July 13. However, we encourage you to share our message throughout the entire month of July.

For each like, love, and wow on Facebook, Balsam Hill will donate $0.50, while comments and shares will generate a donation of $1 each. Balsam Hill will match every cent made for Feed the Children during the campaign period with a corresponding donation. On July 31, you will have one more chance to donate to our mission by simply commenting or tagging ‘Feed the Children’ on a special post for another $1 contribution.

Let’s spread early holiday cheer by working together to defeat childhood hunger!

Read ‘Tis the Season: Balsam Hill Gives Back to learn more about the campaign and how YOU can give back in July and beyond. Join the conversation on how to defeat hunger using #FeedtheChildren and #BalsamHillGivesBack.

House Passes Its Problematic Farm Bill, Senate to Debate Its Better Version

Written by Andrew McNamee, Director of Government Relations

The House of Representatives took another shot at passing its version of the farm bill (H.R. 2) on Thursday, and in a razor-thin 213-211 vote, was successful this time. The same bill had failed when it was first voted upon last month (see our previous coverage here), but lawmakers had a deadline of June 22 to reconsider it. The difference this time was eight members of the Freedom Caucus, including its chairman Mark Meadows, changing their votes and supporting the bill.

We supported certain international provisions in the House farm bill, including elimination of the requirement to “monetize” U.S. commodities, but the bill has several problematic provisions related to domestic programs. It included expanded work requirements in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for parents with children between the ages of 6 and 12 who are currently exempt from such requirements, meaning that those parents will have to secure and compensate childcare services so they are able to work.

Meanwhile, the Senate voted 89-3 on Monday in favor of a procedural motion to begin debate on its version of the farm bill this week. The Senate version of the bill is resoundingly bipartisan, unlike the House bill, which was passed by a narrow margin over the united opposition of Democrats. The Senate bill, which doesn’t include many of the problematic provisions included in the House bill, previously passed through the Senate’s Agriculture Committee on a 20-1 vote.

Planting Seeds for the Future: The Story of Naima Dido

A former Feed the Children recipient reflects on her childhood and gives back to her community in need.  

Life for Naima Dido started out anything but secure. She was born in Kariobungi, Kenya – a densely populated area in western Nairobi – where even today, nearly 40 percent of families live in poverty. Naima says that hunger was a chronic issue throughout her early childhood in Kenya. In fact, when Naima was an infant, her mother was so stricken with hunger that she once blacked out while feeding her. “She actually checked herself into a hospital because she knew that she could get food there,” Dido said. “There was no food in the house. My mother sold everything in the house to buy food. The only items left were the bed and a plate.”

Feed the Children began offering school lunches at Valley Bridge primary school where Naima was a student in 1986. She said this simple act changed her life as well the lives of many other students.

 

“Being able to eat at school changed a lot for many of us,” she shared while reflecting on this challenging time in her life.

Internationally, Feed the Children strives to improve children’s school performance. The organization seeks to reduce barriers and add incentives to ensure children enroll and stay in school so they can reach their full potential. With this goal in mind, regular nutritious school meals are provided to school-aged children like Naima.

Naima, along with her parents and four brothers, came to America when she was 10 as part of the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program. “My parents lived in limbo for a long time before we moved to the United States because they couldn’t work as refugees in Kenya – it was the same as being an illegal immigrant in America,” Naima said. “My parents had to get creative on how to support a family.”

Naima has never forgotten the struggles of her home country and how one organization can make a difference in the lives of many. Today, Naima is the program director for Seed Programs International where her work supports underprivileged communities in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Naima Dido visits with Paul Mbugua, headmaster at Woodard Langalanga Secondary School in Kenya. Mbugua was one of Dido’s teachers when she was a student at the school.

“These children don’t have much; I was one of those kids not too long ago,” Naima said. “The idea that this is still happening today motivates me to keep doing what I’m doing.”

Today, Naima is proud of both her heritage and of the future she’s built with her family: husband and two kids. To help her stay connected with her roots, and to help her children better understand their roots, she visits Kenya when possible. She’s even reconnected with a teacher she knew when she was in the Feed the Children program all those years ago.

Learn more about our work to defeat childhood hunger in the U.S., in Africa, and around the world.

Senate Ag Committee Advances Its Farm Bill

Written by Andrew McNamee, Director of Government Relations

Yesterday, by an overwhelming 20-1 vote, the Senate Agriculture Committee advanced its version of the farm bill, S. 3042. The markup of the bill, when members of the committee offer their amendments and have those amendments voted upon, ended up being largely conflict-free. We applauded the Senate bill because it did not include the harmful Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provisions that were included in H.R. 2, the House version of the farm bill.

Meanwhile, GOP leadership in the House has committed to holding a vote on an immigration measure supported by the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus. With that vote scheduled, Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) has committed to vote in favor of H.R. 2. Meadows’ support of the bill could clear the way for other conservative members to vote for the bill before the June 22 deadline for reconsideration. (H.R. 2 failed by a 198-213 vote the first time it was considered. See our previous coverage here.)

The Senate and House bills diverge in many ways, most notably over their respective treatments of the SNAP. No members of the Senate Agriculture Committee offered amendments to the Nutrition title addressing SNAP because of the strong, bipartisan support for the program in that chamber. However, divergent opinions on the Nutrition title caused a breakdown of negotiations on the House side that stymied initial efforts to pass H.R. 2.

The House and Senate will need to come together once they pass their respective versions of the bill to negotiate a combined version that can pass both chambers, in a process called a “conference.” We will continue meeting with members of both chambers to discuss the harmful SNAP provisions in the House bill and urge that they not be included in the conference legislation.

Senate Agriculture Committee Debuts Its Farm Bill

Written by Andrew McNamee, Director of Government Relations

The Senate Agriculture Committee introduced its version of the 2018 farm bill, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, on June 8. As expected, the bill takes a very different approach to authorizing agriculture and nutrition programs compared to the House of Representatives’ version of the bill. (As you may recall from our previous post, the House version (H.R. 2) was defeated by a 198-213 vote.)

Senate Agriculture Committee Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) plans to give committee members a chance to add their amendments to the bill tomorrow, June 13, in a process called a ‘mark up.’ If the bill passes the committee by a wide margin, Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have said they will quickly move it to the Senate floor for debate and a final vote on passage. Sen. McConnell has indicated he will allow up to three weeks of consideration for the bill.

The Senate bill does not include the harmful requirement that parents with children under 12 work in order to qualify for benefits, which was included in the failed House bill. This provision would require parents who are currently exempted from work requirements to secure supervisory care for their children under 12 years of age, which could be impractical given their financial situations.

The bill includes the removal of the requirement to monetize commodities provided through Food for Peace, which was a provision we supported in the failed House bill. Monetization is the requirement that U.S. commodities provided through USG feeding programs be sold in local markets in countries where the programs are operating, in order to finance development programs in those countries. Although U.S. commodities can be very useful when there is an absolute lack of food, they can also undercut developing local agricultural economies.

Finally, the bill does not include the relaxation of cargo preference that we asked for in the House bill. Cargo preference is the requirement that at least 50% of USG-impelled food shipments be transported on U.S.-flagged vessels. The cargo preference directs food aid resources away from the nutrition programs they are intended to support in order to subsidize U.S. shippers, because it effectively constrains the supply of ships available and enables shippers to exercise monopoly power. It can also cause significant delays in the shipment of food aid while available U.S.-flagged ships are identified and moved to appropriate ports. We plan to meet with Senate offices to ask that relaxation of cargo preference is included in the final bill. We look forward to the opportunity to reaffirm American values through this important legislation.

The House Farm Bill FAILS…What Happens Next?

Written by Andrew McNamee, Director of Government Relations

The farm bill (H.R. 2), which must be passed every five years to authorize agriculture and nutrition programs, was rejected last week in the House of Representatives by a 198-213 vote. As we mentioned in our previous post on the topic, there were international provisions in the bill we support, including elimination of the requirement to “monetize” U.S. commodities provided through Food for Peace. We opposed several domestic provisions of the bill, including a proposal to implement stringent work requirements on recipients with young children. We were hopeful that the harmful provisions could be fixed when the House and Senate worked out the differences between their versions of the legislation (done in what’s called a “conference committee”).

However, Democrats pulled out of farm bill negotiations due to their opposition to new work requirements for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients, meaning that the Speaker of the House had to pass a bill with only Republican votes. We advocated against the inclusion of the SNAP provisions, but they became necessary to passing the bill once Democrats announced their blanket opposition. This gave the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus the leverage to demand a vote on an unrelated immigration measure in exchange for their support. When their demand was rebuffed, the Freedom Caucus joined Democrats to oppose the bill, sinking it.

The real question is, what happens next. The Senate Agriculture Committee is expected to introduce its own farm bill early next month, and Chairman Pat Roberts has said that he “look[s] forward to a bipartisan Senate Farm Bill.” The senior Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Collin Peterson (MN) said that he expects an extension of the 2014 authorization past the September 30 expiration date. House Republicans have pledged to try again to pass the farm bill, and today extended the deadline for them to reconsider the bill to June 22.

Finding Work-Life Balance for Mothers

Being a mom is a full-time job. If you ask any mom, they will tell you about the all-night shifts that stretch into the early morning hours, and the never-complete to-do lists. Moms serve as our teachers, drivers, counselors, negotiators, cooks, cheerleaders and all-around fixers. Undeniably, our mom forms each of us into the person we will be for the rest of our life.

However, moms also play an important part in today’s workforce.  According to the Department of Labor, 40 percent of moms are the primary source of income for their households.  This comes with its own set of challenges as many times jobs require time commitments outside a 9 to 5 day.

With the day-to-day tasks of running a household along with the pressures of financially supporting a family, work-life balance can seem like an elusive concept without a clear definition. There are only so many hours in the day, after all. How can a mom give her job or career the dedication it deserves, and still spend quality time with her kids? How can she juggle both work and home?

These are questions that every working mother struggles with. But everyone can agree, that their most important goal is to provide the best life possible for their children.

 

“My kids are so important to me that I will do whatever I can to protect them and keep them out of harm’s way.  I’m trying to be the best mom I can. But I also have a lot on my mind with bills, keeping the rent paid, keeping all the utilities on – it is just hard,” said Sandi, mom of two.

Consider the following if you are struggling to create a work-life balance;

  • Set manageable goals each day. Make a “to do” list, and take care of important tasks first and eliminate unessential ones.
  • Unplug from electronics. The same technology that makes it so easy to work remotely can also burn us out if we use them at all hours of the day and night.
  • Give yourself a break. No one’s perfect! Every mom is doing the best she can.
  • Get support from family and friends.
  • Ask for help if you need it. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.

Many times, asking for help is one of the most difficult things to do, especially for a mom. She may have the self-expectation that she can conquer anything in her way. But everyone – at some point – needs help.

One of our core values at Feed the Children is to defend dignity. We believe in treating each family member in the communities where we work with value and worth. To help ease the burden of mothers across the U.S., we distribute our essentials box, which we refer to as our ‘dignity box.’ These boxes contain personal care products to support the well-being of hard-working women and their families. Click here to see how you can support mothers everywhere.

Tweet us how you YOU tackle work-life balance and why you are thankful for your own mother’s sacrafices #ThankYouMom.

What it Means to be a Mother

Being a mother is life-changing. Challenging. Rewarding. Scary. Wonderful.

If you ask several women to define what it means to be a mother, no two answers may be the same. However, you may find one central theme: motherhood is not easy. Mothers are essentially the backbones of their family. They carry, birth, feed and provide for their children for the rest of their lives. And, many do it all with a smile.

Between chasing the monsters away at night and nurturing us while we’re sick, they are often quite simply, superwomen. Being a mother can be emotionally and physically demanding, but some women wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m sure you have heard your own mother say, “No matter how old you get, I will never stop being your mother.” That’s because motherhood has shaped her into the person who has endless and unconditional love for her children.

 

“Love is when you wake up every morning and watch your children grow. I show love to my children every day by making sure they hear me say ‘good morning’ with a hug. I never go a day without telling my children I love them.” -Mia, mother of three

Being a mother means teaching your children how to walk, talk, feed themselves and eventually grow into well-adjusted adults. They have a hand in guiding their children’s values and morals for the future, which can define how their potential grandchildren are raised.

 

It means a lot as a mother to have taught all my children and grand kids to cook, and keep healthy food in the house. It has been very important throughout my life and theirs to be healthy. Teaching them the value of their health has made them each grow into adults who now prepare great meals at home for their children.” -Jessica, mother of three

Being a mother means making sure your children can have the world, even if you don’t have the world to give. In the U.S. today, mothers are the primary or sole earners for 40 percent of households with children under the age of 18. Many women work multiple jobs to make sure their children have the clothes, food and school supplies needed for their education. They work hard to equip their child with the means for a successful future.

 

“I sacrifice for my kids every day. Even if I have to go without, they’re going to get what they need regardless of the situation. If I’m down to my last dollar, I’m going to give it to them so they can go to school with cash. I just try to be the best mom I can for them.”-Connie, mother of two

Feed the Children helps children and mothers during their most difficult times. In addition to providing boxes filled with food, our essentials box, which we refer to as our ‘dignity box,’ contains personal care products to support the self-esteem of hard-working women and their families. These boxes may contain items like shampoo, make-up, perfume, feminine hygiene products, and more.

As Mother’s Day approaches this year, make sure you thank the special woman in your life and support women around you. Click here to see how you can support mothers everywhere. From everyone at Feed the Children, thank you to all of the women who have the world’s hardest job. Taking care of us!

Tweet us what it means for YOU to be a mom and why you are thankful for your own mother #ThankYouMom.

House Agriculture Committee Advances 2018 Farm Bill: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Written by Andrew McNamee, Director of Government Relations

Last Wednesday, the House Agriculture Committee advanced its version of the 2018 farm bill (H.R. 2) with a favorable recommendation from the committee. The next step is an expected floor vote in early May, when Congress returns from a week-long recess.

The provisions of the bill addressing international food assistance programs contain some good news for us and the families we serve. Most importantly, the bill text includes removal of the requirement to monetize commodities in Title II of the Food for Peace program. Our Washington, D.C. team met with several offices on the Hill and asked for this requirement to be relaxed, and we’re very happy to see the provision included in the bill’s text!

However, we also asked for elimination or relaxation of “cargo preference” to be included in the bill, and that was absent from the text. “Cargo preference” is the requirement that at least 50% of USG-impelled food shipments be transported on U.S.-flagged vessels. This requirement directs food aid resources away from nutrition assistance towards ocean freight costs, and reduces the number of people who receive timely nutrition support. We are hopeful that cargo preference can still be addressed through an amendment when the bill is taken up on the House floor, and we have begun meeting with offices to push for the amendment to be included.

Although the text addressing international programs has some positives and negatives, the text addressing domestic programs is much more problematic. The bill’s text includes a proposal to eliminate the option for states to utilize “categorical eligibility” for (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) SNAP participation. If a state utilizes this option, it enables people who are already certified as eligible for a certain program, such as Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), to be automatically certified as eligible for SNAP. It helps states cut down on the paperwork required while also reducing the burden on beneficiaries. The proposal to eliminate “categorical eligibility” reduces flexibility for states while increasing the burden on program beneficiaries, with no expected cost savings other than qualified people choosing not to avail themselves of the program.

The bill also proposes to alter the work requirement exception for parents with children. Currently, parents with children aged 12 and under are excepted from work requirements, while the bill proposes to change that to parents with children aged 6 and under. Parents with children between ages 6 and 12 who currently stay home with their kids would be forced to obtain (and pay for) babysitting services, or simply leave their children home alone. Our Washington, D.C. team will oppose both domestic provisions in its meetings with Congress in the next few weeks.