Top Ten of 2016

While most Americans were paying attention to politics, sports, or pop culture in 2016, they may have missed these major events that impacted the poor and hungry around the world and here in the United States:

1. Passage of the Global Food Security Act (GFSA) – The legislation, which enjoyed broad bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate, allocates over $7 billion to initiatives focusing on small-scale agricultural producers and the nutrition of women and children worldwide. When he signed the legislation in July, President Obama noted that development spending is “one of the smartest investments we can make” for U.S. national security and shared prosperity. FEED supports the GFSA, and its passage was a major victory.

unnamed2. Collapse of the Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) – Not all hunger news in 2016 was good news. Hopes were high that the House and Senate could reconcile their respective versions of the CNR to replace the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which expired over a year ago. Although the Senate Agriculture Committee passed a bipartisan CNR, Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) said he was unable to find common ground with House colleagues and minority members of the Senate to advance the bill. A major stumbling block was a provision in the House bill that would have created a block-grant pilot program in three states. The program would cut funds for school meal programs and abolish critical federal mandates, such as eligibility requirements for free and reduced-price school lunches and nutrition standards. FEED strongly opposed these elements of the House bill.

3. Passage of the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act – This long-sought piece of legislation was first introduced over five years ago, but was finally signed by President Obama in July. It requires government agencies to closely monitor and evaluate foreign-aid programs based on their outcomes, and to improve transparency by posting data about the effectiveness of programs on foreignassistance.gov. Its unanimous approval in both the House and Senate is credited to a committed group of bipartisan sponsors.

4. Hurricane Matthew and cholera outbreak in Haiti – Hurricane Matthew devastated Haiti in October. Recovery efforts have been hampered by poor infrastructure that predated the hurricane, and by an ongoing cholera epidemic for which the UN has taken partial responsibility. The cholera epidemic, which was triggered after the catastrophic 7.0 earthquake in 2010, has been further exacerbated by the poor conditions following Hurricane Matthew.

5. Endemic measles is eradicated from the Americas – The World Health Organization declared in September that no one had been infected with measles in the Americas for a full year, meaning the virus is no longer endemic in North and South America. Despite a measles outbreak last year that spread to 667 people in 27 U.S. states, the western hemisphere has not suffered an endemic case of measles since 2002.

6. War and refugees – Unfortunately, 2016 saw the continuation of violent conflicts that drove masses of refugees from Syria and Yemen. The U.S. reached its goal of admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees in the 2016 fiscal year, and has now accepted over 12,000 Syrian refugees since the civil war began in 2011. Meanwhile, the ongoing conflict in Yemen (between Iranian-backed Houthi rebels and a Saudi-led coalition supporting the ousted government of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi) has driven the largest food-security emergency in the world. Between 7 and 10 million people are in “Crisis” (IPC Phase 3 or worse), and require immediate humanitarian assistance. At least 2 million of this total are in “Emergency” (IPC Phase 4), and are at increased risk of mortality. FEED is part of a group of 18 concerned nongovernmental organizations providing food and supplies to 12,000 Syrian refugees, two-thirds of whom are women and children.

See here.

Women carry pails of water drawn from a borehole at Chimbuli Village, Traditional Authority Chakhaza in Dowa District, Central Malawi, October 9, 2014. PHOTO FEED THE CHILDREN/AMOS GUMULIRA
Women carry pails of water drawn from a borehole at Chimbuli Village, Traditional Authority Chakhaza in Dowa District, Central Malawi, October 9, 2014. PHOTO FEED THE CHILDREN/AMOS GUMULIRA

7. El Niño drives food insecurity in Southern Africa – The strongest El Niño weather event since 1982 caused an increase in drought and heat waves across much of the world, but especially in southern Africa. Over 50 million Africans are now considered food insecure. Pervasive drought conditions have devastated the agriculture sector, which employs 80 percent of the working population in Malawi. FEED delivers food aid to over 80,000 Malawian children in 847 centers each day, provides water-purification packages, awards scholarships to help students finish high school, and organizes village savings and loan programs to help impoverished rural communities save and invest in small businesses.

unnamed-28. Ebola outbreak ends – The World Health Organization declared the epidemic over in June 2016, representing a major victory for public health officials and the NGO community. FEED and its partners in Liberia and Kenya created networks of trained Care Group Volunteers to teach public health practices, including hand washing with soap, water purification, and avoiding sick or dead animals. The volunteers also assisted communities in recognizing symptoms of the virus, and dispelling false beliefs about how the virus spreads. See here.

9. The rise and fall of Zika – Zika was declared a global health emergency in February, which precipitated massive global action against the disease: 1) the World Bank committed $150 million to combat the virus; 2) the Bank also established the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility to quickly mobilize funds to address global disease outbreaks; 3) the Obama Administration issued a “private sector call to action” to unlock vaccines, point-of- care diagnostics, and new mosquito-control options; and 4) a coalition of governments and philanthropies, most notably the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, committed $18 million to widely implement a new form of vector control. Following such efforts, the crisis was declared over in November.

10. Number of food-insecure households in the U.S. is decreasing – The USDA’s Economic Research Service issued its most recent “Household Food Security in the United States” report in September. The report found that as of 2015 there were 15.8 million food-insecure households in the U.S.—12.7% of all households. While an improvement from the 14% of food-insecure families in 2014, there are still many households that are unable to provide adequate, nutritious food for their children. Meanwhile, the number of people participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), as well as spending on the program, has been significantly reduced because of the reintroduction of certain restrictions for childless adults, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

News Roundup, March 14, 2016

Feed the Children Expands Partnership Reach

We’ve been working for more than 35 years to make the lives of children and their families better in the United States and around the world. That means we’re always working behind the scenes, looking for ways to increase our partnerships, make our processes better and more efficient, and keep our administrative costs low. Through its network of agencies, Feed the Children distributed more than $344 million in food, essentials, educational supplies, and medicine, impacting close to 9 million individuals in the U.S. and more than 4.9 million individuals internationally.

Recently members of Feed the Children staff attended a “supply chain” conference in Dallas, where we offered a presentation entitled “Solution Based Product Donations: Keeping Unneeded Good Product Out of the Landfill and Out of Your Warehouse.” Mike Ghassali, Vice President of Corporate Partnerships, Corporate Donor Relations, made the presentation for us, and several Feed the Children staff attended the conference, staffed a booth with information about Feed the Children, and networked with potential partners.

Our work with corporate partners helps them serve their communities by giving them the means to donate good-quality unused products to families in need who could use these supplies. This conference helped us connect with even more potential partners and helped position us as a great choice to receive excess inventory. We also met with people who offered us their technical and programming expertise, so we can do our work even more effectively.

Image from left to right:

Chet Jones, Director of Gifts in Kind Partnerships, Corporate Donor Relations, Corporate Donor Relations
Mike Ghassali, Vice President of Corporate Partnerships, Corporate Donor Relations
Chris Splitt, Senior Director of Corporate Donor Relations, Corporate Donor Relations
Hogan Thomas, Senior Director of Logistics/Inventory Management, Logistics/Inventory Management
Wendy Henderson, Director of Gifts in Kind Partnerships, Corporate Donor Relations

Books for Kids

C0ACBE4B-3358-4FBC-82F4-555D4DEA4F44Half Price Books has been giving away free books to a variety of organizations during its 43-year history. In 2015, the company set a goal to give away a million books, a goal they exceeded by more than 50%. Feed the Children was honored to receive a shipment that included the millionth book! We’re grateful for the partnership with Half Price Books. The books we receive are given to children in need through our domestic programs.

To read more about the program, click here.

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Anti-Hunger Policy Conference

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced new USDA efforts to improve access to healthy foods for women, infants and children at the 2016 National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference hosted by the Food Research & Action Center and Feeding America. Over the past seven years, USDA has enhanced federal nutrition programs, providing a critical safety net for millions of American children and families.

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Our own programs rely on partnership with the USDA. For example, in 2014, Feed the Children launched the Summer Food & Education Program, which partners with the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program. The program combines the federal support from USDA with Feed the Children’s logistics and transportation experience to bring food and hope to children throughout Oklahoma. Through the Summer Food & Education Program, Feed the Children served approximately 195,000 meals with the help of public funds and private partners to children at 11 sites within several cities, rural communities, and Indian Tribal organizations across Oklahoma. Read more about the project here.

The conference served as a kick-off to National Nutrition Month, observed throughout March, and was attended by anti-hunger advocates from across the country.

Africa Day for School Feeding

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March 1 was the first annual Africa Day for School Feeding, an observance sponsored by the African Union Commission, AU Member States and development partners. The day, which is centered on the theme “Home Grown School Feeding: a Conduit for Africa’s Sustainable Development”, was celebrated with continent-wide activities and highlighted by series of official events in the Nigerien capital, Niamey.

Read more about the program here.

School feeding is at the center of our organization’s efforts in Africa. In Kenya, Feed the Children partners with the Ministry of Education and the World Food Program (WFP) to provide one meal a day to school-going children in the urban slums of Nairobi and in Kajiado Counties. The meal (mostly githeri – a mixture of maize and beans) helps keep kids in school and also keeps them productive in class.

In Tanzania, children in Kisarawe District receive mid-morning porridge fortified with vitamins and minerals thanks to Feed the Children. The porridge provides a strong incentive to keep children in school and helps them focus, as some of the kids do not have breakfast from home. Feeding children each school day creates a better learning environment.

In Uganda, Feed the Children provides two meals a day (mid-morning porridge and lunch) to children in two kindergarten classes located in Northern Uganda’s Gulu District. These are crucial meals for these children; the majority do not have breakfast at home, so the meals attract kids to attend school.

To learn more about our work around the world, click here.

Backpacks and Hope in Arizona

7-2015 CDR 3063 New HELP Backpack Photos -36-Feed the Children provided more than 2,000 backpacks to Marana Unified School District, Amphitheater School District, Tucson Unified School District and Sunnyside Unified School District on Wednesday, March 9. The backpacks, containing school supplies and snacks, will be distributed throughout the school year to students experiencing hardship.

Feed the Children has distributed more than 772,000 backpacks to American children who are homeless. Our Homeless Education and Literacy Program, or H.E.L.P., provided close to 65,000 backpacks to children in fiscal year 2014 alone.

Hope Requires Teamwork–A Story from Honduras

At Feed the Children, our mission is to provide hope and resources for those without life’s essentials. We make that happen by partnering with a variety of organizations to provide food, supplies and medication to the people we serve. But our work involves so much more than a handout.

*01-2016HN0014 Marcia Lendo-5Take Marcia, a seven year old living in a desert community in Honduras. Marcia’s is a small village, dealing with extreme poverty. There are more families here than there are houses for them. Marcia’s family is one of the lucky ones, though. Their modest home is built on concrete and actually has running water, a latrine and electricity.

But life is still tough for the family. Marcia lives with her mother and siblings, including an older brother who works and helps with expenses. Her mother works as a housekeeper. Her father is not in the picture.

Their diet consists of tortillas, beans, rice, cheese, and eggs, plus meat when they can get it. But there have been days when they didn’t have enough food. They’ve sometimes had to beg for food from strangers. Her mother has brought in extra laundry to make more money.

Today, Feed the Children operates a Feeding Center in Marcia’s community, which provides five warm and nutritious meals a week for 130 children. We’ve also worked with government and other entities to make sure kids like Marcia receive deworming medication every six months, plus other vitamin supplementation which keeps kids healthy. We also help provide prenatal care for pregnant women, and follow-up care for six months following the birth.

“There have been many changes,” Marcia says. “Mothers and children get ill less, thanks to the support of the Feeding Center and the vitamins given there.”

We’re proud of our work in villages like Marcia’s. But we’re especially proud of the way the community comes together to take ownership of helping change things for the better. Feed the Children provides more than food and vitamins—we do the community development work necessary to help families lift themselves out of poverty.

For example, our feeding centers are staffed by volunteers working together, usually mothers. These volunteers receive training on a range of topics, including nutrition, so they have the knowledge they need to help their kids thrive. That knowledge is power.

According to Irma Rodriguez, Feed the Children Community Development Coordinator in Honduras, “The mothers’ support is vital and very valuable. They are the ones responsible for the meal preparation five days a week. Besides that, they prepare administrative reports of the expenses from the Feeding Center.”

Rodriguez adds that the mothers have taken it upon themselves to organize into teams so be more effective. “Each group has a coordinator, and all of the groups receive training and education. The mothers have learned teamwork, and are working together for the entire community.”

As a single mother of three, Marcia’s mother has plenty to do already. But she gives her time and energy to the Feeding Center because she knows it will help not only her own children, but others in her community.

That’s what it’s all about—communities working together, with Feed the Children providing resources, support, and encouragement.

You can stand with Marcia’s family and so many like her. Click here to find out more about supporting our work.

 

Advocating for Children at the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition

I’m honored to represent Feed the Children at the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) and at the Civil Society Organizations (CSO) Pre-Conference this week in Rome, Italy. I’m joining 10 Ministers (e.g., Ministers of Health, Ministers of Agriculture) and representatives from 160 governments there.  The last ICN was held 22 years ago to urge governments around the world to commit to very specific actions designed to improve nutrition, both in the Global North and Global South (these terms are the preferred way to refer to what we used to call the Developed and Developing world or First/Third-world).

This week, I will be advocating for three things I believe to be essential in order to improve the nutritional status of children around the world. (To understand terms we use when discussing hunger and nutrition, check out this infographic and post).

1. The need for prioritization

Right now, the framework for action being promoted at ICN2 contains a list of 60 policy and program options. We need to prioritize the options on this list if we expect measurable improvements in child nutrition.

One of the reasons that UNICEF’s child survival revolution was so successful in lowering child deaths is that they prioritized. They agreed to focus first on four specific actions, or interventions (referred to by the acronym GOBI – Growth monitoring, Oral rehydration, Breastfeeding, and Immunization).

This is more difficult to do in nutrition, but it’s still possible. I believe that in developing countries at least, we could (and should) focus on promoting three things : Essential Nutrition Actions, Essential Hygiene Actions, and women’s empowerment.  This is entirely doable. I have also suggested language changes in the CSO Vision Statement about the importance of water interventions (e.g. purification) and improved sanitation which can improve child nutritional status, and those changes have now been incorporated into the document.

Our Chief Program Officer Tom Davis at the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition  with nutrition leaders from CARE (Bethann Cottrell, left) and Catholic Relief Services (Mary Hennigan, right)
Our Chief Program Officer Tom Davis at the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition with nutrition leaders from CARE (Bethann Cottrell, left) and Catholic Relief Services (Mary Hennigan, right)

2. The need for research

No nutrition program/project conducted at scale (e.g. with 1 million or more beneficiaries) in a developing country has come close to normalizing child growth. We still need more research, and formative research (e.g. Barrier Analysis), but there has been little discussion here about the need for that. In spite of everything we throw at it, malnutrition remains a problem and any reductions are often much less than 50% in 4-5 year projects.  That shows us that some of what we need to be doing is not being done, even when funding is available.

An example of the sort of interventions we may need:

  1. Reduce maternal depression.  One study by Pamela Surkan found that we could potentially reduce stunting by about 19-23% through elimination of maternal depression, and a randomized trial has been done that shows that depression can be reduced 93% at low cost in a developing country.
  2. Eliminate open defecation (when people don’t properly dispose of human waste, it contaminates their water and soil and sickens their children). In many countries, this is a huge problem, and it’s one of the main causes that we see so much stunting in children in Asia despite the number of calories that they take in. When children live in a dirty environment, their immune systems are chronically activated, and they don’t absorb the foods that they eat as well. We know that is a large underlying cause of stunting. Learn more here. To see the sanitation conditions many children face around the world, look at these photos curated by photographers from Panos Pictures and Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor for World Toilet Day.) 

For that reason, we need to push countries to conduct more formal and formative research to find what works in reducing malnutrition, and the barriers and enablers to behaviors that we know can reduce malnutrition.

3. Access to nutrition promotion as a right

We need to affirm that access to nutrition promotion is a right in the same way that access to formal education of children is a right.  We know the lives it can save, and how it can decrease malnutrition at low cost, especially through the use of volunteer peer educators (e.g. Care Groups).

New Feeding Center Opens in Honduras Thanks to the Band Sister Hazel and Their Fans

We have long been partners with the band Sister Hazel. They make a unique kind of music that blends country and rock’n’roll harmonies with Southern pop. They’ve dubbed their fans “Hazelnuts” and for several years now, the guys in the band and their fans have sponsored children in Honduras.

Children Living In a Dump

Three years ago, Sister Hazel visited the community where their sponsored children live. Los Laureles is situated at the base of a huge dump which young and old alike scour for plastic and metal items to sell to recycling. Most of the homes are built out of garbage: nylon, cardboard, tin sheets and any other material they can find. Very few houses are built with cement blocks. Some of the houses are built high up on a plateau of the community, and because of the uneven and steep terrain, are very difficult to get to. None of these homes have indoor plumbing.

rough uneven terrain

Before Feed the Children arrived here, food supplies were very irregular. A church would provide 2 meals a week, and the government distributed some basic staples like rice, corn, and beans, but done in very basic conditions. The kids were malnourished, anemic, and riddled with parasites.

We asked a mom about what those days were like. Gennis is the mother of 5, including a first-grader named Kimberly. Gennis explained, “My children many times attended classes with only one cup of coffee in their stomach because I didn’t have anything else to give.”

Feed the Children’s Work with Los Laureles

Before Sister Hazel adopted the community in 2012, Feed the Children had worked for several years with help from generous partners, including TOMSVitamin Angels, and others, to provide nourishing food, medical care, vitamins, backpacks and school supplies, clothes and shoes, and improvements to the school facilities.

When Sister Hazel visited, they connected with the people of Los Laureles in such a profound way that the guys returned to the USA fired up about doing something BIG to help the community become independent.

Two years ago, Sister Hazel challenged the Hazelnuts to do two things: sponsor every one of the 221 children in Los Laureles, a goal they reached in December 2013, and raise the $75,000 needed to build a real feedingcenter for the community. This new facility will be a sturdy and permanent building with a steady supply of safe drinking water, a real kitchen, and soap and water for basic hygiene.

The Hazelnuts came through in a BIG way. Within a year, they’d raised the money!

In December 2013, our president and CEO Kevin Hagan, along with his wife Elizabeth, visited Los Laureles for the groundbreaking of the new feeding center.

Today, we are thrilled to announce that the new center is open! Sister Hazel returned to the community to witness the transformation there and to celebrate the feeding center’s grand opening.

Grand Opening Festivities

ribbon cutting at the feeding center

sister hazel tshirt frontthanks sister hazel and donors

 

 

karen sees a camera

moms in the new kitchen

water purifier in feeding center

kids in the new feeding center

If you’re familiar with Sister Hazel, or if you want to get to know their music, they’re releasing a special anniversary collection to celebrate 20 years of award-winning music. The album, 20 STAGES, includes live recordings, videos culled from 20 of the band’s favorite venues, and 3 brand new, never released tracks. 20 Stages is available now on iTunes & Amazon, in select Best Buy stores as well as Sister Hazel’s official online merch store

Beginnings: Exploring Work in North Korea Part 1

An Interview with Corey Gordon, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Feed the Children

FTC: Why did you go to North Korea?

CG: Our vision at Feed the Children is that no child goes to bed hungry. We believe that every child, no matter where they are born, deserves to have nutritious food, a quality education, access to life-saving healthcare and hope for their future.

We know how great the need is in North Korea. Around 2.4 million children, pregnant and lactating women, and elderly North Koreans need regular food assistance according to Humanitarian Needs and Priorities, DPR Korea 2013. The National Nutrition Survey 2012, DPR Korea reports that more than 1 in 4 children under age 5 experience stunting from chronic malnutrition, with 1 in 3 of the children between age 2 and 5 suffering chronic malnutrition. Chronic diarrhea caused by lack of clean water and sanitation is one of the two leading causes of death among children under five (pneumonia is the other, according to Humanitarian Needs and Priorities, DPR Korea 2013). We also know that no other US-based non-profit is feeding or advocating for children there. It is clear that we, as a mission-driven organization, cannot not turn our back on the possibility of starting or supporting feeding programs in North Korea.

The opportunity to visit came about through the invitation of Dr. Kim, president of Pyongyang University of Science & Technology, to whom I was introduced by a well-respected international NGO leader, Dr. Ted Yamamori, former president of Food for the Hungry. Both men accompanied me to North Korea in December 2013 to see first-hand the work the university is doing to help the children of this country.

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Corey Gordon and Dr. Kim, president of Pyongyang University of Science & Technology. arrive in North Korea

FTC: Were you scared?

CG: That’s the number one question people have asked me since my return. This was not my first international trip like this (I’ve been in NGO development work like this for some time), but I did have the healthy level of concern I always do when going into a country that appears to be volatile.

Because this country is such a mystery, with all the stories and rumors we hear, I was very careful: I didn’t want to offend anyone, commit any cultural taboos, or end up on the news because I’d been detained. But the people I met in North Korea saw that I was there to learn and sincere in wanting to partner with them to help the children. They saw that I was hiding nothing and arrived on their soil in the posture of a respectful guest, not the proverbial ugly American know-it-all.

I never felt in jeopordy or in danger while I was there. The North Korean government welcomed my visit officially and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPKR) officials accompanied me the entire time I was in the country. I will admit, though, that when my plane landed in Beijing and I was able to call my wife, I was relieved that all had gone well.

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Corey Gordon and Dr. Kim visit a class at the Pyongyang University of Science & Technology

FTC: What were some aspects of your time in North Korea that surprised you?

CG: I learned so much there, uncovering surprises every day, but four things stick out in my mind about the trip:

The people of North Korea are no different from us. They love their families, love their children and want peace for their country. In spite of the many differences between our governments and politics, we have much common ground on a human-to-human level. The Korean people are not the axis of evil we’ve seen described by our media.

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North Korean school children sing for their special honored guests

They were very straightforward and frank. In my conversations with several DPRK officials, I quickly knew where we stood with one another. They said, “If you are just here to take pictures for your own PR and fundraising, please don’t waste our time. But if you truly want to help us, we welcome you back.”

The people were very generous and welcoming. The whole week I was there, I was never made to feel like an outsider. As I was leaving, one DPKR official asked what my impressions were. When I replied, “You have a beautiful country, and your people are beautiful,” he gave me a big bear hug and asked, “When are you coming back?”

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I was impressed that they wanted a heart-level connection with me, not just a business transaction. They were moved by my personal story of growing up as an American-GI-orphan on the streets of South Korea, which helped convince them of our sincere intent to help the children. After a lengthy conversation with several DPRK officials, one of them said, “In my heart I already feel like you are one of us, and that you have come home.”

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Christian faculty at the Pyongyang University of Science & Technology meet voluntarily for chapel service and prayer

FTC: Describe the children that you met. What are some of their greatest needs?

CG: DPKR officials took me out of the capital city of Pyongyang to the eastern coast of North Korea, where I was able to visit five children’s centers. As I greeted the children and met their care workers, what kept running through my mind was how often we see African children in need in photos and videos. Africa is a continent on which it seems you can find an American non-profit working in every square mile. We see far less about North Korea, even though the need is the same. They too need food, nutrition, healthcare, dental care and education.

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Lunch with the students and faculty at Pyongyang University of Science & Technology

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

CG: We need to help. To turn away now would run counter to our vision, and it will disintegrate every ounce of the trust that we built over the course of the December 2013 visit. I want to go back and continue to work with both DPRK and university officials to determine how we can begin helping the communities in greatest need. I look forward to seeing how our vision—that no child goes to bed hungry—can be lived out in North Korea. 

Straight Talk About Hunger in America

Today, we’re beginning a series of blog posts highlighting issues you’ve raised in your answers to the question, “What Would Jesus Undo?

Denise Sawyer is the woman behind the blog Wholesome Mommy. She’s a former teacher raising her family in rural Georgia, where grocery stores are few and far between and where many of her friends and neighbors are struggling to make ends meet. We spoke with Denise over the phone recently about her ongoing series, “Oh SNAP! Real Food on a Food Stamps Budget” in which she is spending 6 months learning to shop and cook healthy meals on a food stamp budget. The resources she has developed are phenomenal — she creates menu plans, shopping lists, and recipes for people on tight budgets with limited access to ingredients. And her mission is get these resources to as many people as possible, all without asking for a single dime in compensation for all her work.

WWJU-Thunderclap-Graphic-Turkana

We asked her to watch Michael Boggs’ new single, “What Would Jesus Undo?” and write a post about how she would answer the question. Here’s an excerpt of her response, Undo Hunger:

This is such a timely post for me. I just received a message on my facebook page from a single mother who said she has just found herself in a situation where she needed SNAP to feed herself and her two children.  She said, “I just received my EBT card in the mail and still feel embarrassed for even needing them.”  Why does she feel embarrassed?  Well, most of us would feel similarly, we all have pride we have to overcome and realizing and then having to ask for help is a humbling experience.  But honestly, its something more, its the way you are looked at in the store, the snide comments made about “those people,” and the facebook posts that we post without thinking about the REAL people in these situations.   I just saw one today.  And actually, it was posted by not one, but two of my friends, who have judged others for needing SNAP benefits.  It was a picture to two refrigerators – one brimming with food labeled as someone “with no job and welfare,” and one empty but for a single item, labeled as “hard working tax payer.”

Read her entire post in full here. (And don’t forget to get your free download of Michael Boggs’ new song!)

When Hard Times Come for American Families

When hard times come, we could all use a little safety net. We could all use a little help knowing that we won’t have to make the choice between keeping a roof over our heads and feeding our children. We could all use a little encouragement knowing that we aren’t alone—even if we feel this way.

Through our Americans Feeding Americans campaign, Feed the Children is doing just this for countless families who have fallen on hard times.

In December, our big trucks rolled through the rural South Georgia town of Sylvania, the county seat of Screven County (population 15,000). Screven ranks among the poorest counties in the state with at least 33% of its residents living below the poverty line. Sylvania is a forgotten town which took a big hit 20 years ago when all the major factories closed their doors and took most of the county’s jobs with them. With jobs not readily available for parents, one in three children here are at risk of going hungry on a daily basis.

It seemed like a perfect place for Feed the Children to lend a hand up of support—donating food and essential care products to over 800 households.

In Sylvania, we met a family who couldn’t help but say thank you and thank you over and over for what our assistance meant to them.

Daniel, the father, had recently lost his job. Though he’s looking regularly for work, so far he hasn’t found even a minimum wage paying job to help support his wife, Jennifer and three children: Tessa, 9, Tye, 6 and Lilly, 4.

If the job loss wasn’t hard enough to manage, Daniel shared that his aging and sick father recently moved in with them.

“Sometimes,” the mom, Jennifer says, “I really worry about how we are going to pay the bills and make sure that there is food in the pantry.”

Though they get assistance from the government through unemployment and SNAP benefits, “It’s just not enough to feed a family of six.”

Such is why the presence of the Feed the Children distribution coordinated through a partner agency in town was such a blessing.  It was encouragement and a little boost to a family seeking to make it but just needing someone to help remind them that others are cheering them on.

As the family vehicle (in desperate need of repairs itself) pulled way from the distribution site, Daniel rolled down the windows of his truck and said, “Please tell everyone at Feed the Children thank you again. We will eat well tonight.”

Feed the Children’s American Feeding Americans—it’s what being a good neighbor is all about… one family at a time.

Ten Simple Ways To Help Children in 2014

The numbers are overwhelmingOne in five American households with children were unable to put adequate food on the table at times during the year. One in eight people around the world regularly do not get enough food to live an active life. These numbers represent precious human lives and millions of children who lack what they need to reach their potential.

If you find yourself looking at these numbers, concluding that the problem is too big, and turning away, you aren’t alone. But just for today, don’t. Sit with it for a minute. Then know this: Hunger is a big problem both in the United States and around the world, but you can help.

We asked our staff to suggest simple things that ordinary people could do to help, not to feel better about ourselves but to truly make life better for the people around us who are going without.

ten easy ways slideshow

You will also find many great ideas for schools, Girl and Boy Scout troops, churches, and more on our Special Projects page. If you need help putting a fundraising project together, we have a team standing by with experience and resources to make your project a success. Learn more and fill out the project application to get started!

We know you have some fantastic ideas, so share your ideas in the comments. Throughout this year, we will feature some of you and the ways you are making a difference every day. If you’re on Pinterest, pin your ideas to our board!

Top-Ten-01
Submitted by Robin Wood
Give your time (Four hours a week would be a tithe if you work a typical full time job) to serve a local rescue mission or food bank.

Top-Ten-02
Submitted by Jayme Cloninger
Leverage your skills in accounting, graphic design, business, etc., at your local community anti-hunger organization.

Top-Ten-03
Submitted by Tony Forrest
Sponsor a child in a developing country through Feed the Children. If you have them, involve your own children by sending letters and pictures to the sponsored child.

Top-Ten-04
Submitted by Tom Davis and Jayme Cloninger
Track your grocery and other food costs for one week. Then take the Food Stamp Challenge, living on $4/day/person for your food, and donate the money that you save that week to a local food bank. If you can’t make it on $4/day, spend more, but commit to donating the same amount you would have given otherwise plus the amount that you went over the limit.

Top-Ten-05.jpg
Submitted by Tamara Johnston and Justin Shumaker
Go in with your coworkers on a purchase from the FTC gift catalog.

Top-Ten-06.jpg
Submitted by Trevor Moe
Tell your member of Congress that together we can end hunger, and ask them to make a commitment to end child hunger. Call 1-800-826-3688 or find contact forms for your elected official here.

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Submitted by Jayme Cloninger
Host a movie night in your workplace, faith community or school to show a documentary on hunger (e.g., A Place at the Table). Follow up with discussions and brainstorming about what your group can do together to help.

Top-Ten-08
Submitted by Jayme Cloninger
We recommend (e.g., Closing the Food Gap, When Helping Hurts, A Place at the Table, and Beyond the Food Drive). What books do you recommend?

Top-Ten-09
Submitted by Kristen Mills and Minna Suh
Even if you don’t normally use cash, select certain purchases to pay for with cash this year. Save all the change (or, for an extra challenge, save your singles too). You will be AMAZED at how quickly this adds up.

Top-Ten-10
Submitted by Hogan Thomas
Workplace activities are fun! Participants pay a small fee that you donate to a local charity. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • sell 15-minute naps
  • host a game tournament (players pay a fee to participate)
  • allow employees to pay to take their dog to work
  • host a cook-off or bake-off (people pay to sample and vote),
  • host a Pay To Wear a Hat Day or a Wildest Tie or Most Outlandish Earring contest (entrants pay a fee)