In the proverbial Land of Plenty, everyone’s needs are provided for in a Utopian-like setting. America has been described this way, both unironically and as an oxymoron because of the vastly different lives of its people. Some have all of their needs met while others wonder where their next meal might be coming from. It’s an age-old problem and for more than forty years, Feeding America has worked diligently to solve it.
From its humble beginnings in Phoenix, Arizona as the first food bank in the United States to its status today as the nation’s largest charitable hunger-relief provider, Feeding America provides food for 40 million people in need. They succeed through a network of 200 food banks as well as local and national partnerships. Those served include 12 million children and 7 million seniors. The organization also conducts vital research that helps policymakers better understand the disparities that cause food insecurity so they may create programs and direct resources to where they will be most effective.
Throughout its lifetime, Feeding America has made inroads into solving food insecurity by literally reaching out to every community in need. Targeted food assistance programs like its Summer Meal Programs provide a stop-gap for those children who lose their school-subsidized breakfast and lunch meals. Its Mobile Pantry program distributes pre-packaged foods to underserved areas. Its Disaster Food Assistance Program has distributed over 100 million pounds of food in recent years to people impacted by natural disasters.
The impact of Covid-19 has thrust new challenges upon Americans with a disproportionate impact on elderly persons and low-income families. Lost jobs, reduced hours and wages, and increased medical expenses have pushed more individuals and families to seek help from already-strained food banks. School closings have doubly hit working poor families who can neither afford the added cost of child care nor stand to lose the subsidized school breakfast and lunch programs they relied on for their children. In acknowledgement of these challenges, Feeding America announced the establishment of a $2.65 million Covid-19 Response Fund to help address the burgeoning need.
Despite all this, as Feeding America CEO Claire Babineaux-Fontenot stated, they cannot do it alone. The organization relies on donations from individuals, businesses, and government organizations. Donors can take pride in the fact that a full 98 percent of their gifts will go directly toward Feeding America programs. Most notably, independent charity evaluator Charity Navigator has given it a top four-star rating with a 97 out of 100 score for accounting and transparency.