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Hunger in America exists for over 50 million people. That is 1 in 6 of the U.S. population, including more than 1 in 5 children. This group exists to raise awareness of the complexities of the issue, to consider solutions, and to advocate for change.
In early December I read an interview of billionaire Howard G. Buffett in a Parade article that focused on Buffett's efforts  to lead the way in striking back against hunger in America. In late December I saw this diary from Melanie in IA announcing a new group, Hunger in America. I joined this group eager to write about the efforts by Howard Buffett to curb hunger here in America and to educate others on how hunger, as Buffett says, is challenging our country's soul.

Howard G. Buffett, 57 year old son of Warren Buffett, grew up in Omaha, Nebraska dividing his time between agriculture, business, conservation, philanthropy, photography and politics. Besides operating a 1,500-acre family farm in central Illinois and overseeing three foundation-operated research  farms: over 1,200 acres in Arizona, over 3,000 acres in Illinois, and 9,200 acres in South Africa, he devotes most of his time managing the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. This private charitable foundation gifts tens of millions of dollars annually in impoverished communities worldwide in an effort to improve living standards.  

Howard G. Buffett
A look at the awards and designations Buffett has achieved is beyond impressive:

1997 appointed as a member of the Commission on Presidential Debates
2000 received the Aztec Eagle Award from the President of Mexico - highest honor bestowed on a foreign citizen by the Government of Mexico
2002 recognized by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture as one of the most distinguished individuals in that field
2005 received the Will Owen Jones Distinguished Journalist of the Year Award
2007 appointed United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Against Hunger on behalf of the World Food Programme
2011 awarded the Triumph of Agriculture Exposition Agri Award, the World Ecology Award and the George McGovern Leadership Award
2012 awarded the National Farmers Union Meritorious Service to Humanity Award, the Columbia University Global Leadership Award and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Pennsylvania State University

Howard G. Buffett has visited over 100 countries, authored seven books on conservation, wildlife and the human condition.  He has been published in The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.

In the Parade article Howard was asked what made him turn his attention from global hunger to hunger in America.

Before, I never understood how difficult things were in this country, and how they were getting worse. In America, hunger is hidden; people are ashamed of it. I was in Tucson at a food distribution [center] and noticed a woman walk in with three kids. She looked around and then walked back out. I later found out it was the first time she had ever asked for help, and she was embarrassed.

Last year I attended a Thanksgiving dinner at Harris Elementary School right here in Decatur, where I learned that 92 percent of the kids are on free or reduced-cost lunches. I spoke with some parents who told me that school lunch is the best meal their kids get all day. That shocked me because the school sits in a community that has the largest food-processing facility in the world for corn and the second largest for soybeans; 1,500 to 2,000 train cars roll out of those plants and through these kids' neighborhoods every day. The irony of that is unbelievable.

In this country, the number of people who are living on the edge, who exist paycheck to paycheck, who have been foreclosed on, has exploded. If you're choosing between medicine or food, between school supplies for your kids or food, between paying the electric bill or food, those are tough choices—and they happen every day. Yet I have hope, because the single biggest difference between fighting global hunger and fighting hunger in this country is that I don't believe we can get global hunger down to zero. There will always be conflicts and infrastructure challenges [abroad]. But there's no reason we cannot put hunger out of business in America.

Here are the three ways Howard Buffett is trying to achieve his goal:

Map the Meal Gap: Feeding America first published the Map the Meal Gap project in early 2011, with the generous support of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and The Nielsen Company, to learn more about the face of hunger at the local level. In August, 2011, with the support of the ConAgra Foods Foundation, child food insecurity data was added to the project.

At the link you can interact with their map, which reflects data from 2009 and 2010, to begin learning how the residents in your community are struggling with hunger and what the anticipated needs will be to meet future goals.  There is a donation link, a food bank locator, a "Tell Congress" take action link and further information about the project.

2014 Hunger in America Study: Hunger in America, also known as the Hunger Study, is the largest study of charitable food assistance in America. Hunger in America 2014 is the most recent in a series of Hunger Studies, which are conducted every four years. Feeding America is the primary sponsor of this study, with generous funding from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

The purpose of the Hunger in America 2014 study is two-fold. First, it will collect information on the current work of the Feeding America network of food banks. This includes talking to agencies that get food and grocery items from food banks (agency survey) and from the clients they serve (client survey). The information collected from this study will help Feeding America, and its network of food banks, to better understand the agencies they work with to provide hunger relief. Second, it will also identify issues faced by both the agencies and the clients they serve. Findings from this study will give Feeding America the information they need to fight hunger in America for the next several years. Feeding America will use the data to advocate for government assistance such as TEFAP, CSFP, and SNAP. The findings will also support fundraising efforts by helping to educate donors and the public about the scope of services provided by food banks.

Invest an Acre :The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Feeding America and Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) has established Invest An Acre, an innovative partnership that engages U.S. farmers in helping provide food to their neighbors.

Through Invest An Acre, farmers are able to invest the proceeds from one acre or more of their crops in Feeding America to support their local food bank. This is the first effort to mobilize farmers on a national scale to support hunger relief.  

Feeding America is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, providing food assistance to people in every county through a network of more than 200 food banks.

The Howard G. Buffett Foundation brings resources to support this vital work by creating an opportunity for every U.S. farmer doing business with ADM to invest a portion of proceeds at the point of sale, either when the farmer signs a contract or delivers the crop.

ADM is one of the largest agricultural processors in the world. It operates the world’s premier crop origination and transportation network, connecting crops and markets in more than 75 countries.  ADM transforms oilseeds, corn, wheat and cocoa into products for food, animal feed, industrial and energy uses.

Feeding America has 53 food banks operating in communities near ADM locations.

The Howard G. Buffett Foundation is underwriting all Feeding America costs as well as a public awareness campaign.  ADM is managing the accounting and transactions with farmers and the local food banks.  All of the proceeds from Invest An Acre will go towards helping the hungry in the local community.

In March of last year, Howard Buffett addressed the110th annual National Farmers Union (NFU) convention in La Vista, Nebraska and told those assembled that there are 1.5 million families in the United States in poverty.

We should be ashamed of that. That’s challenging our country’s soul. We tell people we feed the world, but we’re not feeding our own country.
It bears repeating that hunger is "challenging our country's soul."

For those interested in donating: Feeding America:

When you donate to Feeding America your gift makes a big impact - every dollar you donate helps provide 8 meals to families struggling with hunger. As the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity, our food bank network members supply food to more than 37 million Americans each year, including 14 million children and 3 million seniors in all 50 states.

Originally posted to Hunger in America on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:00 PM PST.

Also republished by J Town and DK Feeding America.

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Comment Preferences

  •  We can always make a difference. (25+ / 0-)

    Thank you for reading.

    If you'd like to follow this group, please click the ♥ next to "Hunger in America" at the top of the diary.  If you would like to join this group, please send a kosmail to the group or to Melanie in IA.

    When the song of the angels is stilled,
    When the star in the sky is gone,
    When the kings and the princes are home,
    When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
    The work of Christmas begins:
    To find the lost,
    To heal the broken
    To feed the hungry
    To release the prisoner,
    To rebuild the nations
    To bring peace among brothers
    To make music in the heart.
      ~ Howard Thurman - (1900-1981)

    As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

    by JaxDem on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 05:34:55 AM PST

  •  Thanks, JaxDem. (9+ / 0-)

    I didn't know that one of Warren Buffett's sons was involved with Feeding America.

    Donated just now. Here's what they said:

    When you donate to Feeding America your gift makes a big impact - every dollar you donate helps provide 8 meals to families struggling with hunger. As the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity, our food bank network members supply food to more than 37 million Americans each year, including 14 million children and 3 million seniors in all 50 states.
    8 meals for $1 is a good deal.

    "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." Hubert H. Humphrey

    by nomandates on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:16:57 PM PST

  •  Thanks, JaxDem. (10+ / 0-)

    Great information here. I looked at the Map the Meal Gap link right away. Just by toggling from Overall Food Insecurity Rates to Child Food Insecurity Rates, it's easy to see childhood food insecurity is higher generally, across the country.

    I looked at Mississippi in the Delta, south of Memphis, where my future daughter in law is teaching 4th graders. Every child in the school receives free lunch. What do they eat for supper? What do they eat on weekends?

    Also the Invest an Acre program -- our son-in-law farms a lot of acres with his dad, corn and soy beans. I'll be asking him if they participate.

    OH and a direct link to Feeding America. The information here is great for anyone wanting to know more, in general, about hunger in this country.

    THanks a lot. Great job.

    I get to choose, and I choose love.

    by Melanie in IA on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:20:26 PM PST

  •  ((((((((((((((((((Jax Sis))))))))))))))))))))))))) (7+ / 0-)

    Bless you for this !  Bless Mr. Buffett and Feeding America for their efforts.

    I have seen so much judgement leveled against children who are hungry and their parents, and adults who are hungry too. It is that judgement that leads to the shame, that makes people not ask for help when they need it. It is a humbling thing to ask for help, trust me, and it isn't made easier when you feel like others in the community think you shouldn't need or don't deserve that help.

            No one deserves to be truly hungry !
            No one deserves to go with nutritious food !

                  Love and Hugs,

    Torture is ALWAYS wrong, no matter who is inflicting it on whom.

    by Chacounne on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:39:30 PM PST

    •  {{{{{{{{{{Sis}}}}}}}}}}} (5+ / 0-)

      Thank you, dear heart for reading!  I too hope Howard Buffett has great success in these programs and I'm thrilled he has teamed up with Feeding America which has such a stellar record.

      No one deserves to be truly hungry !
      No one deserves to go without nutritious food!

      As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

      by JaxDem on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:46:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is such an important effort and (7+ / 0-)

    today there was a special regarding obesity and hunger in America.   Just because people look pardon the expression fat and sassy does not mean the food pantry is full.  It normally means they do not have access to nutrition and depend on canned items and food that is not so healthy when the cupboards are not bare.

    The research was done in the southern poor states as the largest obesity problem.  That tells me that diabetes and heart disease is huge in the poorest among us and a size that looks like one is eating plenty does not mean that at all.   I know myself, that where there are no sidewalks and people cannot afford fresh veggies and produce, there is a real lack of health.   I am overweight and some of it is my own fault, some is thyroid but much is so many years with no accsss to food that is good for us.   Dried beans and fresh greens is good for anyone.
    Hunger in America does not look the same as it does in other countries and neither does poverty.

    Thanks for this wonderful diary !

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:53:05 PM PST

    •  Thank you, dear Vetwife for adding such (5+ / 0-)

      important points!  Those who are poor must buy food for quantity and not quality which leads to other health issues such as diabetes as you mentioned.  

      I know you work to help the needy as well as your ongoing work with veterans.  Thank you for all your efforts to those who are in need.  

      As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

      by JaxDem on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:59:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  excellent post (4+ / 0-)

    that's all

    People who say they don't care what people think are usually desperate to have people think they don't care what people think. -George Carlin

    by downtownLALife on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:58:51 PM PST

  •  Excellent work by Mr. Buffett-- (4+ / 0-)

    who could be just another rich guy working to
    get his own taxes cut, and lining his own pocket--

    but instead chooses to help others.

    American Exceptionalism is Not chanting:  USA!  USA!

    Howard Buffett embodies the concept,
    by doing something very real to help the hungry here.

    It's good to hear that there are still a few Good Guys
    out there among the 1%.

    •  So True, mama jo! (4+ / 0-)

      With his billions, Howard Buffett could just sit back and live the high life as do so many other 1%ers as you pointed out.  

      American Exceptionalism is Not chanting:  USA!  USA!
      Well said!  And I could not agree more.  In fact, I have often said much the same in that supporting our military takes more than just slapping a yellow ribbon magnet (oh so carefully so as not to scratch the finish don'tchaknow) on one's vehicle.

      Thank you for reading and making such significant points.

      As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

      by JaxDem on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 02:17:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nicely (4+ / 0-)

    Done as usual !

  •  The most striking thing about Howard Buffett . . . (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Melanie in IA, JaxDem, nomandates

    . . . is the common sense approach to his work in helping farmers around the world improve their production using methods that are indigenous. If farmers can't do it with what's at hand they will fail after the aid group leaves.

    Many aid foundations try to make agriculture in the 3rd World look like agriculture here: huge, capital intensive, highly mechanized, and highly dependent on chemicals (Bill and Melinda Gates come to mind). It works as long as the aid group pumps in capital and takes away the excess production but fails very soon after farmers are left to their own devices. Not many tractor and combine mechanics in the 3rd World.

    I'm reminded of my Great Aunt Ecla, who was dead set against Welfare in the '60s. She all but refused to believe that there were hungry people and especially children in the United States. And she grew up dirt poor in rural Indiana. Empathy was not taught in school there, I guess.

    Thanks JaxDem. Peace.

    - Politics is the entertainment branch of industry.
    - Frank Zappa

    by rudyblues on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:44:00 PM PST

    •  Thank you, rudy (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nomandates, rudyblues, Melanie in IA

      for reading and for those excellent points.  

      I am mightily impressed with Mr. Buffett and I am excited at the prospects of learning more about his successes in the future.

      Peace to you as well, rudy.  Peace to us all.

      As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

      by JaxDem on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:02:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great post, JaxDem, and (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nomandates, JaxDem, Melanie in IA

    wonderful idea for a group, Melanie in IA.

    Thank you.

    I donate to Feeding America as often as I can, and not just during the holidays. When I can't donate to anything or anybody, I collect for my local food bank. Hunger, of all the "ills" that people experience, seems to be one of the first things we should eliminate.

    Thanks again.

    •  Thank you, carolanne (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nomandates, Melanie in IA

      for consistently donating to Feeding America and collecting for your food bank.   I have to admit that my local donations are during the holidays.

      I agree that hunger should take precedence over all others.

      Thank you for reading.

      As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

      by JaxDem on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 03:11:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks, carolanne. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      carolanne, JaxDem, nomandates

      I hope it can raise awareness. With 1 in 6 hungry, we have to understand that they are our neighbors. I know you do.

      I get to choose, and I choose love.

      by Melanie in IA on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 08:44:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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