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.


Tipping a hat to the competition



By Ed Nicholson

We all compete for something.  For those of us in the corporate world, the competition is open and visible. For those in the non-profit world, it’s often for donors, grants, resources and share of mind.

What would happen if those of us involved in hunger dropped our guards and supported what our "competitors" are doing to help end hunger?  Do you think we would compromise our own competitive postions?  In this case, I don’t.

Let me try.

ConAgra Foods and Tyson Foods can be fierce competitors in some categories in the marketplace.  But there’s one thing on which we agree:  No child should ever go hungry.  The ConAgra Foods Foundation does some outstanding work to alleviate hunger in the U.S.  In particular, the foundation deserves enormous kudos for their ongoing support of Share Our Strength’s Operation Frontline.  This program brings together extremely talented chefs, nutritionists, food banks, feeding programs, and other caring folks to teach nutrition, food budgeting, and cooking skills to adults and kids.

It’s a fabulous program.  It needs and deserves more awareness. So go tell someone about it.

To whom would you tip your hat if organizational barriers didn’t exist?  You can comment here (anonymously, if you prefer).