Beginnings: Exploring Work North Korea Part 2

Recently, we shared an interview with you about a trip that Corey Gordon, our Chief Marketing Officer took to North Korea. He traveled to this place that few Americans ever visit. He explored the possibility of feeding hungry children in this country. In July, Corey traveled again to North Korea to meet with more government leaders and see the results of our first shipment of food into the country. We thought you would like to hear this update on his trip and the work we are doing.

Feed the Children: What did you do on this trip to North Korea?
CG: I traveled to North Korea to validate with my own eyes, the Vitameal distribution. My guides took me to 9 different orphanages. One day I also visited a children’s hospital and a physical rehabilitation center.

I also had several meetings with higher-level officials, including those with the Korea Education Fund (KEF), an internationally recognized NGO established by their leader, Kim Jung Un. KEF’s mission is to ensure the feeding, education and health of the childen in North Korea. Here, I was able to meet with and have a really productive conversation with their president and their senior program manager. We discussed partnering together, and how best to work in conjunction with the governmental agency that oversees Feed the Children’s involvement in the North Korea.

Feed the Children: What did the North Koreans think of the shipment of Vitameal?IMG_0053

CG: We couldn’t have picked a better product to send than Vitameal. Everyone I met with, the orphange directors, the doctors at the larger orphanges, the government officials, the team from KEF, were all very supportive and saw the value of the protein and nutrients in the Vitameal for the kids.

We knew this would be far more nutritious than just sending rice, with the added vitamins and minerals necessary for the healthy development of the kids. However, what we didn’t know at the time was the cultural good we were also doing.

Rice is cliché in Asian cuisine – everybody eats rice. But if you go to a nice restaurant and ask for rice, they don’t just give you plain white rice. You get something else mixed into it – other grains or beans, which is a sign of higher level in society. Vitameal is a combination of lentils, barley, and rice, and they mixed it into the rice they already had. So this made the children’s meal more like a special treat or occasion. Needless to say, they are very eager to receive more. They also told me countless times how thankful they were that Feed the Children followed through on its promise. It added greatly to our credibility that we made good on our commitment, before going back there.IMG_0022

Feed the Children: Did you see anything else interesting on your trip?

CG: My guides wanted me to see more of their country, to learn more about their history and culture, things that made them proud of their country.

I visited Kaesong, the cultural historical birthplace of Korea, the home of the Koryo dynasty. I love history, so it was fascinating to see things that were 1000-1200 years old. I was also given a tour of the birthplace of Kim Il Sun, which holds as much honor to them as we would view Mount Vernon.

I traveled to Panmunjom, which is the actual border between north and south (not the demilitarized zone). DPRK soldiers escorted me right up to the border itself. And I saw the building where the UN and Allied troops met with the DPRK leaders and where they signed the armistice. Everything was there just as if the meeting took place yesterday! I even sat in the chair where the UN negotiators sat to work out the deal.

Feed the Children: What were some aspects of your time in North Korea that surprised you this time?

CG: Even after visiting once, I didn’t realize how many preconceived notions I had about North Korea. I was very humbled by that, as I had considered myself to be fairly balanced and open-minded.

Probably what surprised me the most was the level of criticism directed towards American NGOs. I had expected there would be such towards the U.S. goverment, but it’s pretty evident that they don’t think much of the arrogance and tactics of American NGOs and visitors.

IMG_0123Unfortunately, the perception of the “Ugly American” is still very much alive internationally, with our seeming belief that we have all the answers and can solve all the world’s problems. Yet they can just as clearly see that we have our own issues and sins as well. I reiterated over and over that we would not be there to be critical and judgmental, we would always be respectful guests and partners.

Feed the Children: What are your hopes for Feed the Children’s relationship with North Korea in the future?

CG: Working in North Korea is very much a step-by-step process, as we continue to work hard to establish credibility and trust, both ways. Kim Jung Un recently visited an orphanage himself, and was quoted as saying, “Children are the king of this country.” That statement clearly highlights that the North Korean leaders really do want to help their children, but just need help to do so. Our response – a second shipment of Vitameal arrives into North Korea this week, with the next container to be shipped at the end of the month. These shipments cost us $5,000 per container, so if you look at it from a per serving basis, that’s less than 3 cents per meal. It’s such a small cost for making a huge impact on the future of so many children!IMG_0134

Beyond providing food, the North Korean officials have already authorized us to begin bringing into the country deworming medicines and Vitamin A, as we look to expand our work to focus on the health of the children. As funding continues to be available, we are looking forward to a long-term relationship with our North Korean partners, expanding the type of products we can send to help more kids.

To help futher this work, I will be traveling to South Korea this week, where I will be meeting with a number of potential board members and supporters and moving forward with the launch of Feed the Children Korea. Our office in Seoul will direct our programmatic work in South Korea, as well as help support the work in North Korea. Our goal is to have our office up and running by the end of the year, and I hope to return to North Korea in December.

Hunger Headlines from the Past Week

The Current System is Broken: Bringing Hunger Relief Home for the Summer

During the school year, 21 million American children qualify for free or low-cost school meals from school lunch programs. But when school ends, so do these reliable meals. Kids right here in the United States are going hungry this summer, wondering where their next meal will come from (we call this “food insecurity”). How can they enjoy a summer of just being kids when their stomachs are growling? That’s just it – they can’t.

Read Kevin Hagan’s entire article on The Huffington Post

 

Two Years In: Meet the New Feed the Children

Our new brand reflects our renewed commitment to do more together so that more kids can just be kids and no child ever goes to bed hungry. It’s a promise we make to the world and to ourselves about how we will carry out our mission. Our mission stays the same: to ensure that no child goes to bed hungry. Our brand is how we go about doing that.

The theme of all our messages—and theme of all our work—is to help kids be kids.

Read the rest on Kevin Hagan’s blog

 

Poll: Fewer Americans Blame Poverty on the Poor

As millions of Americans continue to struggle in a sluggish economy, a growing portion of the country says that poverty is caused by circumstances beyond individual control, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. The poll shows a significant shift in American opinion on the causes of poverty since the last time the question was asked, nearly 20 years ago.

View the results and infographic on NBCNews.com

 

Young People Are Much More At Risk To Be Poor Now

The OECD (The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) is out with a new report on rising income inequality. The key finding that stands out, is that the risk of poverty has shifted from the elderly, those over the age of 65, to young adults, those between the ages of 18 and 25.

Read more on Business Insider

 

World Refugee Day: Shameful That Tens of Thousands of Children in South Sudan Could Die From Lack of Food

Almost a million people have been forced to leave their homes in South Sudan following months of violent conflict. Over one million are displaced and dispersed in hard to reach areas in the country, and over 350,000 more have fled South Sudan for refuge in neighbouring nations. These statistics, like many others you will no doubt read today on World Refugee Day are shocking in their scale. Unless we act now, these numbers will be about death rather than displacement – because famine is looming.

Find out where the glimmers of hope are for Sudanese kids

 

What do you recommend from last week’s hunger headlines?

Do You Write To Your Sponsored Child?

Thousands of you have become child sponsors over the past year. To each of you — thank you for keeping children from going to bed hungry.

You may already know the 5 Myths of Child Sponsorship, but do you know what child sponsorship does for kids over the long-term?

When you sponsor a child:

  • You help her become the hero in her fight to escape the cycle of poverty, and you also uplift her entire community.
  • You help pay for his school fees, life-saving preventative medicine, and access to safe, clean drinking water.
  • You remove the insecurity of not knowing when she will eat next.

Awesome, right? But there’s so much more! You can transform a child’s life far beyond his or her physical needs in one very simply way — by writing a letter!

When you exchange simple letters with your sponsored child, you give them a powerful gift that transcends surface needs. I’ve taken many sponsors to visit their sponsored children. They have very few possessions, but in every case, the child had the letters and pictures they received from their sponsor right next to their bed. Children love hearing from their sponsor!

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Many years before he became the President of Compassion International, Wes Stafford set out to prove that letter writing between sponsor and child was a worthless exercise. He actually did his doctoral thesis on the impact of sponsored children’s letter writing on the children in order to prove that it made little difference to and on them.

But instead, he found that children who exchanged letters with their sponsor:

  • Received better grades in school
  • Completed more years of school
  • Were healthier
  • Had a better outlook on life
  • Had a higher percentage of positive outcomes in life after graduating from the sponsorship program

It’s quite simple, really. Children who receive regular letters from their sponsor do better at school, at home and in their community because those letters show that somebody loves them. They feel seen, heard and important to their sponsor. Knowing someone cares how they are doing boosts their energy and ability to fight for a better life for themselves.

To know and to be known — it’s a powerful resource for a child fighting hunger. Write to your sponsored child today!

Childhood Hunger: Who’s the Hero?

Our future lies with the children. The young without limits. The spirited who dream big. The hopeful who envision a better world, a world where no child goes to bed hungry.

It’s a simple statement, one we can all believe in. Food is essential to all, yet out of reach for many. Without it, our children can’t think. They can’t do. They can’t thrive and they can’t dream. Kids are the heroes of the story, and hunger is their Kryptonite.

Childhood hunger is deeply rooted. It’s an invisible enemy, ruthless and deadly, maiming and even destroying childhood. It’s not easy to defeat.

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Some provide food to those who need it, when they need it. Others attack the root cause. Most try to do it alone.

This is not enough. To only feed perpetuates the cycle of poverty. To attack the root cause neglects those in need today. To believe one organization can do it alone is hubris and simply maintains the status quo.

At Feed the Children, we know that to end childhood hunger, we need to empower children, unite forces, and attack the problem from all angles. It takes all of us:

  • Donors to believe in the cause
  • Experts to diagnose the problem and innovate solutions
  • Organizations to pool their resources and expertise
  • Communities to work together toward sustainable success
  • Leaders to institutionalize change

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It takes the power of many standing with the children to fight childhood hunger, to defeat the status quo.

This is the fight we have chosen. We chose it, not because it is easy, but because it is the right thing to do. Because our children need someone to fight with them and for them.

Because it is the only way to ensure that one day, no child goes to bed hungry.

Join our fight to defeat hunger and help kids be kids.

When the World Comes to Oklahoma

It was exciting to be in the Feed the Children offices in Oklahoma City last month.  The world came to Oklahoma as we hosted all of our international regional and country directors for our annual Global Conference.

Over the course of 8 days we shared stories of our work, we discussed our plans to add and expand programs, and we challenged one another to grow together in professional development.  Most of all we dreamed together about how we could serve even more children and families—truly fulfilling our mission that no child goes to bed hungry.

We kicked off the week with an historic event: the international leadership of Feed the Children and World Neighbors, our newest partner, sat in the room together and planned collaborative work to help build self-sufficient communities around the globe. It was the first time since World Neighbors became a Feed the Children subsidiary that our respective teams joined together in such a dialogue. I felt so privileged to witness this talented and motivated group gathered in person around a common table to talk about how we could build a more cohesive organization as a global family.  And the synergy that exists between the work of these two organizations was amazing to witness!

Spent some time with our Philippines country director, Abellana Esperanza (who managed the extreme time change quite well).
I loved spending some time with our Philippines country director, Abellana Esperanza.

World Neighbors and Feed the Children are already working side by side in several countries, such as Kenya and Guatemala. Each organization will bring their best to the partnership.

We also made plans for Feed the Children to expand into regions of Asia in which World Neighbors has worked for years. They have much to teach us and we hope to learn from them as we enter into new communities together.

Our teams also shared administrative strategies. Feed the Children has strengths in the area of fundraising and marketing that will help World Neighbors fund their work.

Listening in and being a part of these discussions encouraged me greatly for the future.

The non-profit world, especially among relief and development agencies, has a bad reputation for competition, not collaboration. I want the larger Feed the Children family to build a different, more collaborative reputation. What encourages me is that World Neighbors is not, nor has it ever been, that kind of organization, not in its 60-plus years of existence.

Meeting as we did at the Global Conference last week, international and domestic staff working together for a common purpose, gives us the opportunity to do great things. Together, we have the opportunity to challenge the way we’ve always conducted business. We have the opportunity to more effectively communicate our mission to those who contribute to our work. We have the opportunity to deliver excellent customer service to our colleagues, no matter if our home base is in Nairobi, Cebu, Nashville or Oklahoma City.

Our Global Conference is an important annual tradition. Not only do I think that our international field staff leaves the USA refreshed and more energized for their work, but so does our US-based staff.

As I walked around our offices this morning, several of our employees told me how wonderful it was to have our international colleagues among us recently.  I couldn’t agree more, and I’m excited to see all that we’ll accomplish between now and next  year’s annual conference.

Five Myths about Child Sponsorship

As we work and talk with people across the country and around the world, we run across many misconceptions about child sponsorship.

Perhaps you’ve heard of (or said yourself) some of these:

Myth #1: Sponsorship-funded programs feed children only, nothing more.

In fundraising speak, this myth claims that these programs operate on a very low cost-per-beneficiary budget that leaves little room for development work.

Fact: Sponsorship-funded programs feed kids and also address the root causes of hunger.

This myth is partially the fault of messages that emphasize feeding a child for pennies a day without mentioning working toward longer-term solutions. We want to provide the kind of help that enables communities to become self-sufficient. We don’t want them to need help forever!

Myth #2: Sponsorship-funded programs are mostly about letter writing between sponsors and children.

This is another myth implying that sponsoring a child doesn’t provide much in the way of tangible or long-term benefits.

Fact: Sponsoring a child encompasses far more than being his or her pen-pal.

Letters mean so much to the children in our programs. Research tells us that children who receive letters from sponsors go further in school and have better self-images than those who do not get letters. But sponsoring a child provides much more: food, water, health care, education, and livelihood training with a focus on the child, the family, and the whole community.

Myth #3: Sponsorship’s main purpose is to make donors feel good.

Sponsoring a child DOES feel good. But this myth claims that is the main purpose, not addresing the needs of the child and his or her community.

Fact: The goal of sponsoring a child is to develop individual, family, and community independence.

Again, this is the fault of messages that focus on telling donors how good they are for donating and failing to follow through with reports on the work being done and the results in the lives of the children.

Myth #4: Sponsorship only helps the sponsored child.

And this, if true, would result in some children receiving more than others.

Fact: While some child sponsorship programs may work this way, ours does not. 

We can’t speak for all child sponsorship programs, but at Feed the Children, we are very careful not to create a dynamic of haves and have-nots in the communities in which we work. We never want some kids to receive benefits while others suffer.

Myth #5: Sponsorship programs don’t work/You can’t evaluate sponsorship programs to show objective results.

Some people don’t think there’s any real scientifically-based way to assess the work being done and determine whether it’s actually improving conditions and child wellbeing. The underlying gist of these myths is the claim that the child sponsorship model hinders development organizations from designing effective community development programs.

Fact: Child sponsorship program DO work, and we have the research to prove it.

The Journal of Political Economy published the study “Does International Child Sponsorship Work? A Six-Country Study of Impacts on Adult Life Outcomes” in April 2013. This study uses the scientific method to show that child sponsorship programs do work.

While some poorly-designed sponsorship programs may hinder community development, the flaws are not inherent in child sponsorship itself. The weaknesses lie within certain program designs.

greenhouse kids blog crop

This is Feed the Children’s child sponsorship program:

  • A reliable way to fund community-based programs that help all children – even if the effects take a while to ripple out to everyone.
  • Community-based programs that improve the entire community without bias or leaving people out.
    For example:
    • A safe clean community water source leads to better drinking water for the sponsored child and all the others
    • Improved livelihoods for parents generate more income to pay school fees for all children, including the sponsored child (if their parents are involved)
    • Health promotion targeted at mothers of all young children results in healthier school-aged children later
  • A platform to educate and transform the donor. The long-term sharing of updates, progress reports, and program success creates a more knowledgeable, savvy, and engaged donor. People who understand community development not only support it themselves but become evangelists and educators of others, too!
  • A long-lasting, steady, and larger income source for organizations to fund holistic community development programs.

Your turn. What misconceptions have YOU heard about child sponsorship?

 

Feed the Children Goes to Washington

One of the most exciting new developments in the past year for Feed the Children has been the opening of a new office in Washington DC. Joining the ranks of its non-profit counterparts, Feed the Children created a government relations team to be a voice in Washington and to represent the millions of children and families we serve. Most of all we see the work of this team as the group to lead the charge into advocacy.

“Advocacy” means many things. At Feed the Children, advocacy educates, elevates conversations and promotes policies to address the systemic issue of hunger and poverty. We seek to be a voice for the voiceless. We seek to partner with governmental agencies already engaged in similar work both in the US and around the world.

US flag on building

Lobbying, or directly speaking to policy makers, is only one function of advocacy and is practiced by the two members of our advocacy team as well as myself and members of the executive team.

Bottom line—Feed the Children is and ALWAYS will be a non-partisan organization. We only take positions on specific issues that impact the communities we serve on a case-by-case basis. As a charity organization, we can’t make donations to any political party or endorse a candidate for public office.

In the last several months, we have built some very solid relationships with the Administration and members of Congress (on both sides of the political spectrum).  We have significantly raised our profile, not only with government officials, but also with our nonprofit counterparts.  It has given us a seat at the proverbial table and we have been widely welcomed.

food voucher

A day in the life of our team in Washington is different every day—often driven by the legislative schedule and the needs of our programing offices at any given time.

Most recently, our team pounded the pavement working to protect the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP), America’s largest and most effective hunger relief program. Recently, the House of Representatives voted $40 billion in cuts to the SNAP program but must be approved by the Senate and signed by the President to be signed into law. So the fight is not over. We are now encouraging members of the House and Senate to come up with a compromise bill that will reform SNAP while protecting the most vulnerable of our society.   This is only one example of advocacy in action.

Additionally, our staff in Washington also works to reduce roadblocks. For example, gifts in kind donations have been freed in international customs because of the work of our D.C. team. They’ve also been in conversation with the US Department of State and Embassies to handle other international operational issues that affect our ability to serve more children.  And of course, they fundraise too!  They are busy researching international grants and domestic program grants that can increase our impact through federal funding.

In addressing hunger in the US and around the world, the situation we are faced with is that even if we quadrupled our revenue and service, Feed the Children couldn’t begin to solve the child hunger problem alone. The problem has to be addressed in partnership with those who work in Washington among many others. And, Feed the Children is glad to be here in Washington—especially during seasons like this one.

From Skeptic to Believer: How Our CEO’s Wife Became Our Biggest Supporter

Once upon a time, only a few months ago, I never would have given Feed the Children a dime.

I never would have written anything nice about them in public.

I never would have put on a Feed the Children t-shirt.

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And my husband Kevin was Feed the Children’s new President and CEO.

As a 30-something pastor already involved through my church in supporting relief and development organizations, I was leery of the big promises of an organization with such a wide scope. I opted to support and give to my local church and to other do-good organizations with which I had a personal connection—places where I was confident my dollar was being put to good use.

Yet, I supported my husband’s calling to lead Feed the Children (I’d never seen him so passionate about anything quite like this) and soon thereafter I said yes to my first field program trip in August of 2012 to Malawi and Kenya… only because Kevin asked me to go with him.

As we boarded the plane Africa-bound, I sought to have an open mind.  Maybe it might be different than I imagined?

e hagan 2 editedAnd it was. From day one, I began to experience some of the most pure and life-changing work I’d ever seen—though I’d already traveled extensively in the developing world, coming to Africa twice before.  The Feed the Children I began to get to know personally surprised me.

I was surprised when I met some beautiful women in remote villages in Malawi who brought their toddlers to one of our feeding centers. I heard them say to me through translators, “Thank you so much. There is no other way we could feed our babies if you didn’t help us. Feed the Children is the only support network we’ve ever known that has stayed here for the long haul.”

I was surprised when I chatted with staff over cups of coffee in Kenya with so much light in their eyes. Their unbelievable dedication to improving the lives of children and deep spiritual core humbled me. I knew if I’d ever met a saint— these leaders were the real deal.

Kevin and I with the staff at one of our children's homes in Kenya
Kevin and I with the staff at one of our children’s homes in Kenya

I was surprised when I visited a school in the slums of Nairobi and put shoes on the tattered feet of first graders. As I watched delight come to their faces, I couldn’t help but have Isaiah’s words come to mind: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.” I realized these children could now live into their God-given mission of simply be-ing because Feed the Children facilitated this gift of school shoes to them.  Wow.

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And over the past seventeen months, as I’ve continued to travel to field programs in other regions of the world like the Philippines and Latin America with Kevin, the story has been the same. Feed the Children does amazing work and I am a changed woman. I now own at least five Feed the Children t-shirts. And no one paid me to write this blog.

I’m not saying that Feed the Children is perfect. It has come a long way, but it still has a long way to go in achieving its mission of ensuring that no child goes to bed hungry, but for now, this skeptic of a CEO’s wife is a super fan! I’ve seen the work. I’ve met the staff. I’ve hugged the kids. And I can tell you: these are good people doing amazing things!

For the other skeptics out there too, I hope that you’ll believe as my husband says all the time, “It’s a new day at Feed the Children” because it truly is.

You Can End Hunger

smiling boy with bowlI remember donating a few dollars and even helping raise money after listening to a speech about the famine in Ethiopia and the horn of Africa. The speakers berated our leaders for not doing more and for the weakness of the UN in its efforts to feed the starving masses. One comment I’ll never forget: “In these times no one should go hungry. Famines don’t happen overnight, so we should be able to prevent them!”  No, this isn’t a “We Are the World” mid-eighties flashback – it’s from my college years in the mid-seventies!

During the Ethiopia famine of the mid-eighties, we heard an outcry around the world to stop the dying. After all, we had plenty of food worldwide, so how could this happen AGAIN just 10 years later?  We were upset that once again millions were starving. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people had already died when news of the famine finally broke.

Today, we see all the signs of a world food crisis again: increasing food prices, lower production of edible food due to weather, emerging economies consuming more than anticipated (India and China), and the poor getting less and less because their money doesn’t stretch as far as it did just a few months ago. Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa have once again been in the headlines.

As the developed world heads into the indulgence of the holiday season, I cannot help but think about those who don’t experience a holiday from hunger. I think about the mother in Haiti who, on nights without food, would boil small rocks and tell her children supper would be awhile. She encouraged them to go rest, hoping their wait would cause them to fall asleep.

Operation Home Front Carolinas helps provide food and essentials for American families of servicemen/women.
Operation Home Front Carolinas helps provide food and essentials for American families of servicemen/women.

Even without widespread famines, children in places like Honduras, Guatemala, Kenya, Uganda and the Philippines are just days away from personal famine because their family livelihoods are so fragile. This kind of famine is not confined to a particular geography, and it doesn’t have a cultural face; it isn’t caused by one crop failure or a drought in one region of the world; it’s not the result of a greedy or uncaring government. It’s many of these things all coming together.

To stop it, we must come together, too. Caring individuals like us need to identify people groups who are the most at risk, and we must act. We – individuals – need to step forward and be first to aid the poor. We need to influence our leaders to help keep grain and rice prices at reasonable levels, and we need to motivate our brothers and sisters in other developed countries to take hold of this chance to help the poorest of the poor.

girls and boxBefore you say that you can’t spare anything this holiday season, take a look at yourself. If you own a device on which to read this blog, you have enough extra to give.

Almost 1 billion people live in extreme poverty. I know that this number is overwhelming. Each of us has wondered how one person can do anything to put a dent in 1 billion hungry people. The fact is, most of us can’t, but we each can make a difference in the life of one person. You can help one child get at least one healthy meal each day, go to school, and maybe break free from poverty thanks to the chance you gave. If you are ready, we have a child for you.

Matt Panos is the Chief Development Officer for Feed the Children and has served the poor and hurting people of our world for more than 30 years. He’s traveled to more than 40 countries in his service with the poor.

A New Day At Feed the Children

It’s an honor for me to be a part of the Feed the Children team at a time like this.

We are feeding more kids in more schools than we did at this time last year.

We are growing our reach to serve more children and families in both our domestic and international programs.

The enthusiasm and talent of our dedicated staff grows each month that I get the opportunity to get to know them better.

I am a proud CEO.

But when I look ahead to what’s next for Feed the Children, four key initiatives come to mind. All four are underway today. 

1.    We are revamping domestic programs to build self-sufficiency.

Unlike our international programming, where Feed the Children adopts a community and develops a plan to bring it to self-sufficiency through our four-pillar approach, our domestic operations have largely centered upon emergency food programs through partner agencies and disaster relief. But this is changing. On this new day at Feed the Children, we want to be known as a US agency that digs deep and stays long in communities where children need us the most.

Soon we will begin after-school and summer feeding programs in several cities. We will also continue to strengthen our educational programming such as our backpack program for homeless students, but expand the efforts to include more collaborative work with local educators and school administrators.

Children from our school in Kenya
Children from our school in Kenya

2.    We are renewing our emphasis on child sponsorship.

In the past, Feed the Children asked donors to give $10 or $15 when they could, but we rarely asked for a longer term, more relational commitment to our mission. But this is a new day. Child sponsorship can connect those we serve with those who give to help support our mission. We believe in child sponsorship and are excited about growing this program because we feel our unique model works.

When you give $30 a month to sponsor a child through Feed the Children, the funds you give goes to the community in which your sponsored child lives. We do not create a system of “haves and have-nots” in which some of the children in the village are sponsored, receiving new uniforms and shiny pencils, and others are not. When you sponsor a child in a Feed the Children program, the entire community benefits from your monthly donation through clean water, nutritious food, healthcare and education.

3.    We are launching a new Feed the Children brand.

As has been the pattern with many in the non-profit sector, Feed the Children has kept to itself and done its own thing. It’s a new day, and we’ve stopped to examine ourselves, the problems we’re trying to address, and how we’ve been approaching them. Every day we are more convinced that going it alone is completely inadequate in the face of systemic poverty and hunger.

Today, we reject isolationism. We are actively seeking to partner with other non-profits working in the same area. For the first time in our history, we joined Interaction, the largest convener group of NGOs in the United States. This was a great first step. But a single step towards working together isn’t enough. We must make sure that our actions match our call to collaborate.

Soon we will launch our new brand and logo. The new visual identity and voice will better tell the story of the new Feed the Children. The needs of children around the world are great, and we can’t do this work alone. Be watching for some big changes in our look and tone of voice soon!

4.    We are focusing on internal and external customer service.

Customer service is an area in which most organizations of any size can improve. We are no different. We want everyone who comes in contact with us to feel seen, appreciated and valued, whether they receive some of our services, donate products or cash, volunteer, or work as an employee. We know that we need to do better.

Maya Angelou has said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I believe this is 100% true. If we are not being kind and hospitable human beings to one another in the process of feeding the bodies and nourishing the souls of one another, then what are we doing?

I’ll share even more with you about this area of focus later.

In the meantime, thanks for following and supporting our journey here at Feed the Children. We are glad to have you as part of our global family.

Kevin Hagan is the President and Chief Executive Officer for Feed the Children.