Big Hearts, Big Minds Come Together to Discuss Hunger Solutions



Participants in the WeCanEndThis Cause Lab

By Ed Nicholson
On Monday, I had the privilege of sitting in on the first WeCanEndThis Cause Lab, a day-long think tank at the annual South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, focused on arriving at new solutions to the problem of hunger in the U.S.   Big vision guy, Scott Henderson conceived the event, and assembled it with with CauseShift partners Anne Bertelsen and Brian Reich, along with an all-star cast of non-profit and corporate partners (full-disclosure: Tyson Foods was a partner).

Altogether, the event drew a couple hundred participants throughout the day: a diverse bunch that included not only professional hunger fighters, but social good advocates from outside the cause, and socially-minded techsters.  A full overview of who, what and how can be found at so I won’t go into detail here.  Go check it out; it was a very interesting day.

Here’s why I think the event was a worthwhile investment of all of the participants’ time and resources:

  • If hunger is to be "solved,"  (and I think all of us in the game hold great hope that’s something that can occur), it won’t happen because one organization makes it happen.  And it won’t happen if all of us keep a singleminded focus on our own  organizational objectives (as worthy as they might be).   It’s going to take a collaborative effort among every single person and group now out there working on the cause.  It’s going to take competitors working together.  That happened here,  with Share Our Strength and Feeding America coming to the table, as well as Tyson and ConAgra, and others in the  consulting, tech and social services sectors who might otherwise compete for resources or share of mind. I think a lot of smart people have come to that realization, and you’re beginning to see more collaboration than ever before.
  • The solution (or more likely, solutions) to hunger won’t come solely from those currently leading the fight. It’s going to take more people; intelligent, innovative people; people totally unencumbered by a "been there, done that, won’t work" mindset.  It’s going to take more and more people who, in studying the problem, arrive at the gut check that hunger is in every community, and in some way, affects every single one of us.  In this one place, on this one day, I hope there were some new converts, who will stay involved as WeCanEndThis embarks upon the rest of a year-long noble experiment.


3 Replies to “Big Hearts, Big Minds Come Together to Discuss Hunger Solutions”

  1. Tamera Hanson

    Another idea is to get your girl scouts, cub scouts, brownies or even a youth group to go on food drives me and my children gathered many of car loads this way also.  They can earn there badges at the same time, or even a youth night sleep over for  a fun night as a reward. Some of the schools can also put on dances with the food cans as the amount needed to get in. Those that don’t attend church could also place barrels in the schools to inspire class competition with volunteers in the community donating items for prises. 

  2. Tamera Hanson

    I use to be a Sunday school teacher and asked the kids in class if they would bring in cans of food for offering instead of offering. It grew and grew to sign up sheets of milk being delivered  weekly and in the  weekly readings by our paster he would  posts  the different foods or items needed that began  over flowing  the shelves of food we stored and fed many families with.  I was also involved with a fund raiser for children who wanted to go help in fiji when that terrible wave hit.  We all sold crispy cream donuts on major roads to raise enough for many to go as well as walmart stores ect. Just a few examples on how you might start it up in your community. 

  3. shelley wenk

    The second point reminds me of what Josh Warnow of said on the EchoDitto Web Thinking manifesto:

    "…EVERYTHING we did as staff was to support, shape and enable their work. We accepted from day one we wouldn’t have control over what they did. Honestly, we didn’t even know about almost a 1/3 the actions until they actually happened. We just had confidence in the movement — that with a compelling idea to make a difference, inspiration and the right tools — leadership would emerge and do amazing things we could never have done ourselves."

    More and more it seems to be about giving people potent tools and unleashing them.

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