The most digitally-connected hunger conference I’ve ever attended

Amanda Hite--photo courtesy of No Kid Hungry

Amanda Hite–photo courtesy of No Kid Hungry

When I went to my first Share our Strength Conference of Leaders in the fall of 2000, I was amazed by the vibrant, passionate community of people the organization had put together to address the issue of hunger.

As a relatively early adopter of social media around 2006, I  became really excited about the idea of that community bringing that energy, enthusiasm and spirited conversation online.  I waxed enthusiastically in blog posts here.

We brought the incredible Beth Kanter to the Conference of Leaders in 2008, to try to jump start the social media discussion. Maybe a bit before its time.  John Haydon came in the following year. Another great presentation, but still the online community was limited to a few of us.  Amanda Hite led the social media discussion in 2011, after which she was part of a great group of folks who created the No Kid Hungry Social  Council.

As a result of all the hard work that group has done, this year’s conference last week, was the very first major hunger gathering I’ve attended, where social media happened right. It happened mostly on Twitter.  Two large screens ran the Twitter feed in the plenary sessions. Amanda kicked it off with another great session.  Events saw tremendous traffic with #nokidhungry trending on Twitter at one point. People recognized great content.  High-profile attendees like The Food Network’s Ted Allen and Marc Murphy, and WNBA star Ruth Riley interacted online with attendees. People shared!!!!   The community truly came together.  Now it’s time to keep that momentum going.

Online communities thrive because of real-life  connections. We can have stimulating, compelling online conversations. We can share with each other; educate each other. But the real bonding occurs when we finally see each other face-to-face.  Sometimes it occurs the other way around:  We meet each other at an event, and that initial meeting can set up an online conversation that evolves into genuine friendship.  A lot of both occurred at this year’s conference.

Kudos to No Kid Hungry Online Community Director, Clay Dunn, Amanda Hite, and the No Kid Hungry Social Council and all of the folks who’ve been working to energize and connect the online tribe.  I believe you’ve done it. You’ve set the bar for every hunger organization that might want to mobilize stakeholders online.

One more thing:  the No Kid Hungry folks have put together two cool apps to further the cause:  Their No Kid Hungry app, which integrates gamification to engage people in various program activities.  And an app that features recipes from their Cooking Matters program (Tyson Foods is donating $1 for each of the first 5000 downloads of this app, so get on in to the iTunes Store and check it out).
BTW–Big shoutout to early adopters in this community, like Michael Farver, Bill Shore, Tim Cipriano Joni Doolin (and others whom I’ve no doubt omitted, but can be seen on this Twitter list of hunger advocates we’ve been putting together for the past few years).

No Kid Should Dread the Weekend–or Summer

by Ed Nicholson

Note: I’ve decided to go back and repost some things from years past that are still timely. This one originally posted in June of 2010. It remains relevant as we approach the end of the school year. Ed

As I post this on Friday afternoon, tens of thousands of kids at risk of hunger around the country are being sent home from school with backpacks full of food thanks to innovative programs such as the one Janet Kniffin, Chief Development Officer for the Connecticut Foodbank, describes in the video above. Were it not for these programs, many would go hungry over the weekend, since school lunches are their primary source of nutrition.

Soon school will be out for the summer. What happens then? Many communities have solutions. Many don’t.

Do your local schools have backpack programs? If not, what happens during the summer?

Where’s the online discussion of hunger? Year five.

Hunger DiscussionFive years ago, excited about the possibilities social channels offered to fostering a healthy national discussion about hunger, I posted a piece in this blog entitled “Where’s the Online Discussion About Hunger?”    

There’s a tremendous hunger community in this country.   I’ve learned so much from them over the past thirteen years, and am always interested in being part of the stimulating discussion that can occur when two or more get together.

But that discussion just doesn’t seem to be happening online.

I learned a lot of what I know about PR from the CompuServe PR forum.  It was a great community of folks, always involved in rich discussion, moderated by people who truly knew the business.

I’m a musician.  I love to talk about music, musical equipment, production techniques and such.   I’ve spent countless hours and learned a ton in a community created in The Gear Page forum.

Want to learn about Toyota 4-Runners ?    Soccer?    Bodybuilding?   There’s a vibrant discussion going on somewhere about almost anything you can think about.

Hunger?  Maybe not so much.

Isn’t hunger as important as all these things?  Where’s the discussion/community?     If there isn’t one, why the heck not?   Hunger folks are intelligent and passionate.   Normally not afraid to express their opinions. I ask again: Is this discussion occurring somewhere of which I’m not aware?

Who Says Students Don’t Care About Hunger?

Universities  Fighting World HungerGuest post by Kelly Nuckolls

Students and faculty from more than 50 colleges, universities, and hunger groups from across the United States and seven countries attended the 8th Annual Universities Fighting World Hunger Food Summit in Overland Park, Kansas, March 2nd-4th. This was the first time the event was hosted by a coalition of institutions. Under the leadership of Kansas Campus Compact, the Kansas Board of Regents, and the Kansas Independent College Association, the entire sector of higher education in Kansas came together to plan the Summit, with the goal of “Raising the Volume.”

The volume was raised throughout the weekend as students, faculty, administrators, political officials, and hunger relief organizations from all over the world came together at the Food Summit to share best practice models; listen to keynote addresses from Ritu Sharma of Women Thrive, Dr. Alastair Summerlee of the University of Guelph, and Max Finberg of the U. S. Department of Agriculture; all with the goal of ending hunger by empowering the younger generation.

I am proud as a Kansas college student to have been a part of the collaborative efforts to raise the volume all weekend long. The conference motivated and inspired us to make our noise heard –college students will eliminate hunger in our lifetime. Mike Giancola of North Carolina State University stated at the final closing session that he hoped in twenty years we would no longer be meeting at a Hunger Summit. The work being done at higher education institutions worldwide reassures that this will happen. Students, faculty, and administrators are continuing to increase campus efforts to address hunger in new and innovative ways that provide students with the opportunities and resources to fix this global problem.

As the three-day event came to an end, attendees were called to action. Students were reminded of the importance of everyday acts of citizenship that can make an impact in the world. I had the opportunity to demonstrate to the conference how simple political action can be, even for a student, by making a call over speaker phone to Congressman Kevin Yoder (R-KS) (watch it now by clicking here). The goal was to show conference attendees how simple it is to engage in efforts that will put an end to starvation and hunger across the globe.

Conference attendees responded to the call to action. The day after the conference, Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), proposed a 36 billion dollar cut to SNAP (food stamps). The volume of the Food Summit was heard in Washington D.C.—approximately 130 attendees made the call to Senator Roberts office to be a voice for the hungry.

Answer the call by learning more about this unique learning experience and the opportunity to become a global leader in the fight against hunger, as well as the efforts made toward ending hunger at the 2013 UWFH Food Summit. I encourage viewing the conference material on the 8th Annual Food Summit website. Check out the re-cap video made by Fort Hays State University student Becca Kohl by clicking here. Now is the time to raise the volume in every corner of the earth to making ending hunger a priority.

Universities Fighting World Hunger (UFWH) is the catalyst for over 300 chapter colleges and universities who engage in international programming across the globe to make fighting hunger a core value of higher education institutions worldwide.

 Kelly Nuckolls is a student at Fort Hays State University and member of the UFWH planning committee.






Now Let Us Give Thanks #FoodThanks

For the third year in a row, the AgChat Foundation is leading an effort to generate awareness and gratitude for those who put food on our tables.  If you’d like to learn more about it, go over to #FoodThanks. Here’s my post from the first year. I think it’s still relevant:

I’m one of the lucky ones. I have a tremendous family, good health, and live in the best country in the world. Lots for which to be thankful. I also have one of the best jobs in the world. Every day, my job reminds me of how thankful I should be. You see, neither I nor any of my family has ever gone hungry.

While I stand on a high hill watching people being fed, I also get to look in another direction and get a panoramic view of food being grown, produced and taken to market. Because I know how many people and how much work is involved in that process, it’s easy for me to be grateful for the Thanksgiving meal I’ll share with my family this year.

I’m thankful for the farmers, no matter their size and production techniques. Without them, none of us would be fed. Farming’s hard work that takes a commitment that goes way beyond that of simply making a living.

I’m thankful for the people who pick up, process and deliver food to market. Also hard work, often with very thin margins, and certainly no guarantees of success. Some of them are my own teammates, so I get to see up close and personal how passionate they are about feeding people. I’m humbled and honored to be able to share the products of their hard work.

I’m thankful for people in grocery stores, farmer’s markets, restaurants, institutional kitchens, food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens—anywhere food is conveyed to those of us who will consume it.

I’m thankful that we live in a country that produces a bounty of food. I’m hopeful we’ll continue to explore new ways that bounty can be shared among those who don’t have enough. I’m also hopeful that any changes we make in the way we produce food will allow us to continue to feed our country, in addition to many across the globe.

Now let us give thanks.