Our most recent post in support of No Kid Hungry and their GO ORANGE campaign showcased five effective ways to volunteer your time to end hunger in America. And those strategies are vital in the quest to provide reliable meals to about 50 million underfed Americans, including almost 16 million children. But these great new strategies are only part of the battle.
In order to really maximize our efforts, we’ve got to factor in the countless hours and dollars being wasted right now on programs that are of little use in the fight against hunger and poverty in the U.S., including charities that haven’t figured out how to be charitable and canned food drives that slow down relief organizations. There are even some strategies that are making it harder to get hot food to those most in need. Are you eager to figure out how to stop hunger in your community? Take note of these four roadblocks and head in the other direction.
4 Bad Strategies for Ending Hunger and Poverty in the U.S.
1. Giving money to the wrong organization. When you send a cash donation to a truly effective charity, you’re putting money in the hands of experts who know how to get the most hunger-fighting bang for your buck. When that donation makes it to the wrong group, though, you’re just helping to pad the pockets of solicitors and executives. One great (or is that terrible?) example: Shiloh International Ministries, which is ranked by at least one metric as the 39th worst charity in America. They pledge to help the homeless and hungry as part of their mission statement, but America’s Worst Charities says Shiloh has given out less than 2% of the $8 million they’ve raked in during the past decade.
2. Donating canned food. Let’s go back to those awesome charities for a second. Just how good are they at squeezing every last drop of use out of your donations? Katherina Rosqueta, the executive director at the Center for High Impact Philanthropy, estimates that food providers pay about 10 cents for a pound of food that might cost the rest of us $2 per pound in the stores. Running to the store and buying food to donate is a super-inefficient way to help end hunger in America. Plus, it takes a lot of time and effort for food banks to sort through donations from your cupboard.
Don’t get us wrong – somebody will accept your beans, tuna and applesauce, and they’ll probably end up doing some good. But if you want to provide as much support as possible, send money, not cans.
3. Enacting laws against feeding the homeless. Does it seem crazy to criminalize the act of donating food to the needy? Well, it’s happening with greater frequency as cities across America, including New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Houston and Las Vegas, enact anti-food sharing laws. Some restrict the use of public parks, forcing groups to acquire costly permits or allowing them only a handful of permits over the course of a year. Others limit the number of meals that can be served or imposed limitations for food safety related concerns.
Advocacy groups like the National Coalition for the Homeless admit that some legislation is necessary to make sure that safe food is being served to the homeless. They point out, though, that many of these laws are simply restricting access to food. The NCH sees these laws as the ultimate consequence of NIMBY (Not-in-My-Backyard) attitudes that try to push the problem of hunger in America out of sight. The most vulnerable Americans often only get access to a meal through organized public food sharing – to cut that sharing off is to deny access to a basic human right and further endanger those who already suffer. Keep this in mind the next time you go to the voting booth.
4. Cutting funds for food stamps. Has America recovered from recent economic woes? The recession seems to be long gone on Wall Street, where profits are soaring to record levels. That’s not the case in homes across the nation, though, where 47 million Americans are still using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (the fancy new version of food stamps) to put food on the table. Extra SNAP funding that was enacted in 2009 as a response to the recession is set to expire within the next two months, however, and that will result in a loss of $30 a month for the average family.
To put this into perspective: after the cut, some people will be feeding their families on as little as $3.37 per day. When your daily food budget per family member is $3 and change, every dollar matters – the $30 per month is a significant amount of money. The House of Representatives is focused on a plan that will result in even more dramatic cuts ($40 billion total) to SNAP over the next decade.
Now that you know the worst ways to combat hunger in America, you’re better equipped to help find the solution to the problem. Join BerryBreeze™ and other sustainable food advocates in supporting No Kid Hungry and the GO ORANGE campaign, and share this article to let your friends know how they can avoid the worst methods for helping the needy.