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Entries in Hunger (14)

Wednesday
Apr112012

Fight Hunger With These Five Charities

Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for City Harvest(NEW YORK) -- After the holiday gift-giving season passes and spring begins, it’s easy to forget to give to charities that need your help the most.  ABC News identified five food-related charities that are a great way to give back just in time spring.

This blog is part of a virtual event, “Hunger Hits Home,” themed around how we can do more to help fight hunger in our communities.  Join ABC News at this communal table and post the ways you help fight hunger using the Twitter hashtag: #pullupachair

Here are a few charities worth checking out:

1.  City Harvest
Centered around the issue of hunger in New York City, City Harvest was created by citizens upset at how restaurants were throwing away perfectly good food at the end of the night.  The organization collects food from restaurants and grocers and delivers them to food pantries and soup kitchens throughout the city.  If you’re outside of NYC, City Harvest offers tips on how to start one in your area.

2.  Feeding America:    Feeding America fights hunger through a network of food banks and programs around the country.  Their after school kids cafe provides a great way to volunteer to help tutor or select a local food bank in your area to get started.

3.  The Hunger Project:  This organization works in Africa, Asia and South America with the goal that every person leads a “life of self-reliance and dignity” while teaching empowerment and equality.  Check out their information on how to get involved or help from your home with these small computer savvy options.

4. Action Against Hunger:  Committed to ending world hunger, ACF International targets a “range of social, organizational, technical, and resource concerns essential to a community’s well-being.”    Send e-cards to your friends to get involved, donate or host a fundraiser.  The company uses $0.90 per dollar donated for its field programs.

5.  Heifer International Encouraging self-reliance, Heifer International gives families livestock and training to help them create a sustainable income.  The organization encourages recipients to “Pass on the Gift” by giving the offspring of the livestock to other needy families.  Visit a learning center around the country or check online for how you can volunteer.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan192012

Miracle Food: Can World Hunger Be Solved By Tricking Taste Buds?

JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Homaro Cantu's world is part kitchen, part laboratory. The Chicago chef is more mad scientist than traditional culinary artist, and he's attempting to not just create delicious meals, but to challenge the very definition of food as he toys with its flavors.

"Our goal is to expand our dictionary of what food is," Cantu told ABC News.

Cantu is ringmaster at one of the Windy City's most sought-after restaurants, Moto, a place where even the menu is edible. Take a bite, after you order, and the edible paper on a cracker tastes like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

"People pay a premium for Moto Restaurant because it's food that they're never going to see anywhere else," said Cantu.

Watch Homaro Cantu's TED Talk.

In Cantu's kitchen nothing is at it seems. What appear to be nachos -- chips, sour cream and ground beef -- will surprise even the most discerning of foodies.

"We basically just take the chocolate and put it in a blender and it turns into ground beef," Cantu explained. "The chips are made from corn chips, the cheese is made from Mexican sweet potatoes, and the green chile salsa is actually Mexican kiwi with some strawberry and some Mexican flan."

Last March, on the TED stage, Cantu wowed the audience by literally turning lemons into lemonade with a little pill made from a wild berry grown in West Africa. It's nicknamed the miracle berry and has a mysterious protein that temporarily inhibits the taste of sour and bitter things.

After taking the pill, members of the audience were able to bite directly into a lemon and have it taste exactly like lemonade.

Cantu believes the world can be changed through the science of taste. One of his dishes uses ingredients that are readily available for free.

"We basically take some grass and fry it. And bam, you've got yourself a dish that could actually be procured from your backyard depending on where you live," he said. "Agriculture as we know it could really be changed just by tricking our tongues."

The hope is that one day the science of taste could give starving nations something good to eat or make junk food healthy.

"So it starts...at this trendy establishment and those trends hopefully tickle down into a bigger audience," Cantu told ABC News. "We can rework it a little to make it like our junk food....If it looks good and makes you hungry, why not?"

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov232011

Federal Government, Charities Struggle To Combat Hunger

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- As Congress attempts to tighten its fiscal belt, government aid for the record number of poor and hungry Americans has lagged behind.

In a weak economy, rising unemployment and higher food prices, the number of “food insecure” households is at a record high.  And the federal government is struggling to meet demand for food stamps as it cuts its own budget.

In 2010, nearly 49 million people could not afford adequate food, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  That’s one in seven households, one of the highest numbers recorded in recent history.  Even once well-to-do families who were donors are now finding themselves turning to food banks for help.  The number is “unprecedented,” said USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon.

“Millions of Americans are faced with the self-realization that 'I never thought I would find myself in this situation,’” Concannon said in a conference call Tuesday.  “Those are the words we have heard in government offices, in food banks.”

Children have been particularly hard hit.  Feeding America, one of the largest nonprofit organizations helping the hungry, saw the number of children that come to its food banks jump to 12.5 million in 2010, versus nine million in 2009. Between the two years, overall demand in its network jumped by 46 percent.

The situation is “heartbreaking,” said Feeding America’s chief executive Vicki Escarra.

“The numbers are numbing in sheer size but behind those numbers are people,” she said.

Southern states, led by Mississippi, Texas and Arkansas, have the highest number of hungry people in the nation.

But even as the economy forces more people to turn to food banks and government-assisted programs, the federal government is struggling to keep up with the demand.  In 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama promised to end childhood hunger by 2015 and expand the government’s nutrition assistance programs, but that goal remains far from being achieved.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct112011

Global Alliance Fighting Malnutrition with 'Sprinkles'

Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition(GENEVA) -- When most people think of sprinkles, they think of cake and ice cream, and the word “healthy” doesn’t usually come to mind.

The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) is trying to change that perception in some parts of the world with their new take on the treat: nutritionally fortified Sprinkles designed to fight malnutrition, a global issue impacting billions of people around the world.

GAIN’s Sprinkles aren’t your typical ice cream parlor, rainbow-colored fare.  These Sprinkles are sachets of powdered vitamins and minerals used to fortify foods prepared both in homes and by food vendors in Kenya.

And so far, the Sprinkles are working.  GAIN reports that its Kenya Sprinkles Distribution project, which began in 2007, has resulted in fewer nutritional deficiencies among children under five years of age.

And they’re not just for kids. The Sprinkles are ensuring adolescent girls and pregnant women receive essential nutrients. GAIN maintains it is a proven, cost-effective way to improve the health and well-being of millions of people and communities around the world.

“A study from GAIN and the U.S. Center for Disease Control found children consuming the multi-nutrient powders in rural areas of Kenya saw a reduction in iron deficiency, vitamin A deficiency and anemia,” of 14, 10 and 11 percent respectively, Adrianna Logalbo of GAIN told ABC News.

One key to the success of the Sprinkles project is that kids like them.

“The first thing she asks for is 'sprinkles'” said Loice Anteieno Ojoro, a Kenyan mother, speaking about her young daughter.  “My other child opens the cupboard, finds the sprinkles, brings it to me and asks me to add it.”

Kelin Auma Oluch, another Kenyan mother saw dramatic improvements to her child’s health after she started adding the supplement to the food she cooked.

“I saw a lot of changes -- I noticed my child’s appetite increased a lot.  My child that was weak now is strong,” she said.

“The use of micronutrient powder is one of the easy ways that we can combat malnutrition,” said Rosemary Otiende, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health in Kenya.

The multi-nutrient powders come in small packets of up to 15 essential vitamins and minerals at a cost of 35 cents per pack.  By sprinkling them on food, low-income families have a better chance of receiving the critical nutrients they need to thrive.

GAIN already has Sprinkles supplement programs running in Bangladesh and is about to launch in Ethiopia, where Sprinkles will be handed out to children under two years old and women of childbearing age.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Sep242011

Report: Obesity Outnumbers Hunger Worldwide

Creatas/Thinkstock(NORWALK, Conn.) -- Obesity is now tipping the scales—outnumbering hunger on a worldwide scale.

HealthDay reports that there were 1.5 billion obese people and 925 million undernourished people worldwide in 2010, according to an annual World Disasters Report released by the International Federation of the Red Cross Thursday.

The data also reveals economic inequalities and socio-economic concerns, highlighting the startling gaps between the rich and poor where 15 percent of humanity are hungry while 20 percent are overweight.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug302011

More Americans in Their 50s Facing Hunger

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LEXINGTON, Ky.) -- Nancy and Randal Watkins say they were just like most middle-class couples in their early 50s.

The Lexington, Ky., couple made sure that every bill was paid on time. Then last year, Randal Watkins got sick and soon after his wife got sick. They eventually lost their jobs.

Now they can barely put food on the table.

According to an AARP report on hunger released Tuesday, nearly 9 million Americans in their 50s are more likely to be hungry than people in their 60s and 70s. When the 50-year old Americans become food insecure, they become twice as likely to become diabetic and five times more likely to suffer from depression.

"These are folks suffering from the recession and the economic declines in this country," Jo Ann Jenkins, president of the AARP Foundation, said. "Some of them have just recently lost jobs."

"Sometimes you don't want to get up," Nancy Watkins told ABC News through tears. "You think today will be better. So I'm thinking 'Lord, let me feel better.' Yea, every day that I get up."

The Watkinses use all kinds of tricks to make their food last. They eat food that's gone bad and eat cereal without milk.

"Sometimes there's not a lot of milk but you compromise," Nancy Watkins said. "You can use water."

They make too much from disability to get food stamps but the couple doesn't make enough to pay their bills. They owe $25,000 to a Kentucky hospital.

The Watkinses say they have to remain positive.

"Always remember that you're blessed regardless," Nancy Watkins said. "There's somebody out there worse off than you."

If you would like to donate money to help those in need of food, there are several ways. Feeding America will help provide food to an estimated 14 million children this year. The organization says that for $45, it can feed a family of four for a month. You can also make a food donation to your local food pantry.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug252011

Hunger at Home: Local Heroes Come to the Rescue

ABC News(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) -- Magazine Mountain is Arkansas' highest point. But it's also one of its lowest, with most families barely getting by. On a hot Saturday morning before dawn, families are lined up outside their church because Pastor Bob Caldwell is feeding the town.

"If people don't believe in miracles, all they had to do was show up today," Caldwell told ABC News.

Caldwell is a son of poverty himself. His father was out of work for years, and now he spends every day traveling the state asking factories and businesses for free food to feed those who need it the most. He receives frozen chicken from Tyson Foods, and bread and soup from local grocery stores.

Caldwell and his church spend just $700 a month and are able to feed more than 700 people.

"All you have here is people who knock on the door and say, 'Preacher, if I don't -- if you don't help me, I don't eat tonight,'" Caldwell said. "That may not bother a lot of people, but it bothers me."

The families who line up call it Miracle Saturdays. The food giveaway takes place the third Saturday of every month, and each family is given enough food for a month.

"It would just tear us apart, if Pastor Bob wasn't doing this," said Johnathan Essman, who was standing in line.

Gene Damron receives $50 every month for food and gas from the church.

"It makes a lot of difference whether you're going to eat all month or not," Damron said, holding back tears. "Makes a lot of difference."

Damron drove his neighbor Betty Hicks to the church. She told ABC News her food stamps only go so far.

"We ate dog food," she said. "We ate it because we had to and we ate out of our dusty dumpster... We'd check the rot, and we'd cut it off the food, and what was left we'd eat."

This isn't just one small community. There are 4,700 people across three counties in the mountainous region who have trouble putting food on the table. Although there is a lot of hardship, there is very little sadness. These families have accepted this condition as a way of life.

A way of life that everyday people across the country are trying to make nonexistent.

In Phoenix and San Antonio, Liz Scarpinato started the organization Kitchen on the Street. She distributes "bags of hope" to 16,000 school children each month. The bags are filled with food for the children to take home to make sure they are able to eat on weekends during the school year.

In Atlanta, Aubrey Daniels and hundreds of volunteers climb fruit trees located on public lands. Last year they gave nearly a ton of fresh fruit to food pantries.

And in Wisconsin, 13-year-old Peyton Medick and her volunteers have collected 60 tons of food, one can at a time over the last five years.

"There's so many people that have helped me do this...I just need to keep going," said Medick. "The problem of hunger is never going to go away."

Scarpinato, Daniels and Medick, along with many others throughout the country, are determined to help families move past these desperate times.

"You can sit around and you can watch people and see hunger and say, 'Well, that's sad.' But until you do something about it, you won't make a difference," said Caldwell. "Anybody can make a difference."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug242011

Hunger at Home: Since Recession 20 Million More Americans on Food Stamps

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- The McKimmons girls in Arkansas pray before each dinner, grateful for every meal. Michelle Sutton near Atlanta sacrifices her own food for her boys. And 10-year-old Jahzaire Sutton in Philadelphia has a nearly empty refrigerator.

In every corner of the country, a portrait of hidden hunger has now emerged. The recession has pushed 2.4 million more children into poverty. Seventeen million children are "food insecure," meaning their parents often don't know where the next meal will come from.

Simply put, one in six Americans don't have enough food.

Dawn and Michael McKimmons live near Fort Smith, Ark., and have moved into a trailer to save money. Dawn works at a hotel, while Michael delivers pizzas. They have taken whatever jobs they could find, but it is still not enough to feed the family.

They make do with help from their local food bank and try to shield their three little girls from the daily struggle.

"I hear my kids ask me, 'Mommy what's for dinner?' And I sit there at times, I sit there and kind of just pace back and forth thinking to myself, 'Oh my gosh, what is for dinner,'" said Dawn.

Outside Atlanta, the Suttons slipped from the middle class when Bob Sutton's concrete company went under. Michelle Sutton said she used to be a typical soccer mom, but not anymore. She told ABC News that her 11-year-old son hugged her and said, "Wow, you feel skinny."

Dr. Mariana Chilton, founder of Witnesses to Hunger, says the recession has hit the middle class hard.

"People who have been middle class who are now struggling to put food on the table are feeling an enormous amount of stress," she said. "They are starting to experience the pain of poverty, of what it's like to be poor."

In Philadelphia, 10-year-old Jahzaire Sutton knows it's the end of the month, when the food stamps have long run out.

His mother is trying to finish her degree so she can find work.

When asked what is toughest for him, Sutton said, "When I eat, and my mom doesn't. She sacrifices."

Before the recession, 26 million Americans were on food stamps. Today, that number has grown to more than 46 million, or one in seven Americans.

Sutton says he wants to be a senator when he grows up and has even written to Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa., to ask for help.

Without a car, Sutton and his mother are forced to walk to Rite Aid to buy food. Rite Aid is the closest store, but it is often too expensive and there is no supermarket nearby. Walmart is their best alternative.

St. Christopher's Hospital in Philadelphia is ground zero for hunger. The emergency room might see 250 children a day, and up to half are hungry.

"They don't have the growth that they should," said. Dr. Chris Haines, ER director at St. Christopher's Hospital. "What disturbs me is that your brain grows much in your childhood, and nutrition is what's important to your brain's growth."

Tom Lesher, who brought his grandson to the hospital, has been out of a job for 18 months.

"Things are going to get tough," he said. "I don't know what I'm going to do. I can't find a job."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug242011

Feeding Hungry Kids with 'Bags of Hope'

Started as a way to feed just one hungry child in an Arizona community, Kitchen on the Street now provides 16,000 meals a month to hungry children in Arizona and Texas. In this photo, kids wait in line to receive their "bags of hope" -- a kit with five meals and five snacks that is designed to supply them with food for the entire weekend. (Kitchen on the Street)(PHOENIX) -- As the school cafeteria emptied out from lunch, Dennis Cagle, a charter school administrator in Arizona, noticed one little girl who stayed behind to collect the food left on other students' trays. When he asked her what she was doing, the girl explained that there was no food at her house, and she was bringing these leftovers home so she and her siblings would have something to eat that night.

The girl's plight haunted Cagle, who had no idea the extent to which children in his school were going hungry at home. But it shouldn't have surprised him: One in four Arizona children live in poverty, and according to the National Center for Children in Poverty, nearly 15 million children live in poverty nationwide. With high unemployment and foreclosures, this number has risen 20 percent since 2000. It's little wonder that many children go hungry.

Though Cagle would not live to see a solution, or at least a salve, to child hunger in his community, his story inspired his friends and fellow Phoenix residents Lisa and Vince Scarpinato to create the nonprofit Kitchen on the Street, which works to provide an entire weekend's worth of nonperishable meals to schoolchildren in need. Volunteers assemble these "bags of hope," as they call them, and distribute them to nearly 800 children in Arizona and Texas each week.

"We're parents," Lisa Scarpinato says, "and we just imagined the devastation of a parent if they felt like they couldn't feed their child. We had people in the community who were out of work, or had family members who were sick, and we knew we could help. We aren't overly rich, so we knew, at first, that we could at least help one kid, so we did, and that just grew."

Scarpinato attributes the increased attendance, better concentration and improved grades to the kids' having a secure source of food each weekend. "The food is not only healing these kids bodies but changing their perspective. Hope changes brain chemistry -- kids who are hopeful try harder, persist longer and are more successful," says Scarpinato.

Kitchen on the Street now operates in 14 schools in Arizona and Texas, funded in part by government grants but predominantly by individuals and local businesses. For $25 a month, Kitchen on the Street can provide one child with five meals, snacks and breakfast bars each weekend of that month, all packed in discreet backpacks and duffle bags.

The backpacks are used because hunger isn't the only thing Kitchen on the Street is fighting, Scarpinato says. It's also fighting the stigma against poverty.

"Unfortunately, we are battling more than just physical hunger. Kids (and adults) don't want to admit they don't have enough food to eat. There is a shame that goes with it," Scarpinato says.

But thanks to Kitchen on the Street's presence, that's beginning to change, she says. When it first began, the partner schools using the program weren't "overly excited" to have their names connected to it, "which means they saw a negative connotation in it," she says. "Now we see a shift. They put it on their website. We've gone from not wanting to mention we have hunger in our community five years ago, to wanting to raise awareness about it and be open about it today," Scarpinato says.

One Phoenix charter school says Kitchen on the Street has meant the difference between success and failure for its students.

Though some might question whether a school needs to concern itself with what their students eat over the weekend, Freddie Villalone, principal of a Phoenix Imagine Schools charter, says he believes "food insecurity" was holding many of his students back.

"If their bellies aren't filled, they're not going to be able to focus on their academics. They won't be able to do the homework we assign over the weekend because they're worried about finding food," he says.

At his school, 97 percent of students receive free or reduced-cost lunches. For several years, Villalone's charter school wasn't doing so well: It was in the bottom 5 percent of Arizona schools in terms of academic performance, and was told it had to improve students' grades quickly or face getting shut down. That's when it partnered with Kitchen on the Street.

Now, 150 of the school's 700 kids receive weekend "bags of hope." Since Kitchen on the Street came to the school, the school's academic rating went from an F to a B -- a turnaround that Villalone credits in large part to the food that Kitchen on the Street supplied to his students most need.

It's not only about feeding kids, he says, it's about "building a level of confidence. Their confidence levels go down if they're hungry and unable to concentrate come Monday. When they know they'll have enough to eat over the weekend, they come ready to learn. Our kids have made tremendous academic gains," he says.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug242011

Shocking Need: 1 in 4 American Children Are Malnourished

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Every day, children in every county in the United States wake up hungry.  They go to school hungry.  They go to sleep hungry.

That is one of the stunning key findings of a new study to be released Thursday by Feeding America, a network of 200 food banks and the largest hunger charity in the country.

As many as 17 million children nationwide are struggling with what is known as food insecurity.  To put it another way, one in four children in the country is living without consistent access to enough nutritious food to live a healthy life, according to the study, "Map the Meal Child Food Insecurity 2011."

Those hungry children are everywhere, and with the uncertain economy, the numbers are only growing, experts say.

The consequences of malnutrition can be severe.  Several studies have shown that food insecurity affects cognitive development among young children.  And for older children, school performance is affected.  Additional research shows that with hunger comes more frequent sickness and higher healthcare costs.

Medical research has shown that lack of nutrition can permanently alter a child's brain architecture, stunting intellectual capacity and a child's ability to learn and interact with others.

"The consequences and costs of child hunger make addressing this issue an economic and societal imperative, in addition to an obvious moral obligation," said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America.

Feeding America's study, funded by ConAgra Foods, is based on 2009 statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which runs 15 food aid programs, including the nationwide free and subsidized school lunch program and WIC, a supplemental food program that provides tailored food supplements to pregnant women and families with children under age 5 whose household income is less than 185 percent of the gross federal poverty limit. That's an annual gross income of $41,348 for a family of four.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio