If you’re paying attention, you know that Feeding America, the national food bank network, just released the key findings of its "Hunger in America 2014" report. Feeding America undertakes one of these behemoth surveys every four years, getting a little bit more particular, a little bit more comprehensive, a little bit more tech-savvy each year.
For example, in this year's survey, over 60,000 people confidentially answered questions about their family’s food security using touchscreen tablets. "Hunger in America 2014" included families with an active or retired member of the U.S. military for the first time; it also assessed the food security of adult students.
And the results aren’t good. While it’s pretty common knowledge that America, as a whole, has been getting hungrier since the recession hit, it’s shocking to hear exactly what that looks like: that one in seven Americans rely on food banks to see them through. Viewed through a lens of ethnicity, the results are even more startling: One in four African Americans relies on a food bank; one in six Latino Americans.
So what does all this mean for Feeding America’s already impressive cadre of funders, and more broadly, grantmaking overall in this area?
That's a good question.
While more people are turning to food banks than ever before, philanthropy hasn’t quite kept pace with the booming need. Sure, there are big givers, like the battalion of committed organizations (plus celebrities like Sheryl Crow and Jennifer Aniston) who support Feeding America, and corporations like Walmart and Mondelez International who have anti-hunger and anti-obesity programs that are doing good things. But the anti-hunger grantspace as a whole remains sleepy. It needs a wake-up call.
And this may be just the ticket. Combined with Pope Francis’s anti-hunger campaign, and the fact that foundations hard-hit by the recession are finally starting to bounce back, the results of Feeding America’s latest survey could mean big, positive changes are ahead for anyone looking to alleviate the national hunger crisis.