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).


I’ve been two days in anti-hunger conferences in DC: Saturday at the National Hunger Free Communities Summit sponsored by the Alliance to End Hunger, and Sunday at the FRAC/Feeding America National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference.

I love coming to these things, not just because they’re engergizing and educational, but also because they generate connections, many of which turn into steadfast friendships. The discussion is stimulating, informed and passionate. It’s the kind of interaction that should be occuring among the issue’s most serious advocates every single day. You know, there’s technology now that allows that kind of thing.

Three years ago, all full of (perhaps naive) enthusiasm for the community-building potential of social media tools, I posed the question in this blog post, “Where’s the online discussion about hunger,” generally assuming that somewhere people were carrying on these discussions in online communities. At the time I was personally connected to online communities talking about about PR, social media, even guitar collecting (a personal hobby). So I assumed as smart and talkative as this hunger bunch was, they’d be gathering online somewhere. They weren’t. And that’s a shame.

Because this is a tremendous community. We should be connected. And I’m glad to say that in the past year or so, there have been some great strides made. Lots of passionate hunger fighters like Tim Cipriano  from New Haven, Lisa Sherrill from the Bay Area, ConAgra’s Steff Childs, and the folks Share Our Strength  (just to name a few) are connected with each other. Retweeting. Commenting. Sharing Content. Supporting the COMMUNITY, not just using the channels to push spam messages out.

I attended the social media session at the Hunger Policy Conference and was it was really cool to see that there’s a real interest in knowing how to use these online tools. Many out there already in the game, just looking for ways to do it better.

Can I make one suggestion: Let’s support each other. I may not be able to use my bandwidth to talk about your foodbank’s Saturday night event or things that basically have local interest. But if you have a story to tell; if you want to editorialize on one of the big issues; if you have a best practice that might be of interest to you peers around the country; by all means email me, @ me or send me a Facebook message. I’ll do my best to use the channels I have to get you heard.

Let’s connect.

photo: Flickr Creative Commons by Acustance

Hunger Twitterers


We started this Twitter list almost three years ago with names of people who have been active (online or offline) in the discussion of hunger. Since then it’s grown as more and more people and organizations find Twitter a valid way to bring the community online.   From time to time, I’ll re-tweet the URL to this post. If you’d like your name added to this list, comment here with your Twittername, send Twitter reply to  @TysonFoods, or email me at ed.nicholson@Tyson dot com   I probably won’t add you unless you ask me, so if you want to be added (some folks would prefer their names not be on the list), just ask!

There’s also a comprehensive hunger twitterers list at to  which you can subscribe with one click.

Now. You all go follow each other and talk amongst yourselves.  SOS primary account  Feeding America Billy Shore, founder of Share Our Strength Dan Michel–social media for Feeding America Ellen Damaschino SOS OFL Hall of Fame Chef and blogger Take Action on Hunger  Rock for Hunger Feed Them With Music  David Davenport    Lisa Goddard, Online Marketing Director, CAFB  Karla Cantu, Senior Director of Agency Relations, CAFB Kim Willis, Communications Manager, CAFB Molly Robbins, Community Events Manager, CAFB   Emily Babb, Donor Services Manager, CAFB John Lyon, Faith-Based Capacity Building-VISTA, CAFB JC Dwyer, Texas Food Bank Network, Statewide Advocacy Director, Michael Clark, Mitchell Communications
http://elisemitch  Elise Mitchell, Mitchell Communications San Antonio Food Bank Community Relations Manager  Michael Farver Susan Adcock Photoblogger Ed Nicholson, personal account   A. Zganjar, Share Our Strength Suzy Twohig, Share Our Strength The Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign Tom Robinson, Live Feed (Music for hunger relief, St. Louis) Friends of the World Food Program Cooking With Amy– Hunger Challenge Blogger Genie Gratto– Hunger Challenge Blogger Maria Niles–Hunger Challenge Blogger  Texas Food Bank Network  Michelle Stern Food Bank of ContraCosta and Solano Counties Portland Rescue Mission, Portland, Oregon Judy–Ft. Myers Soup Kitchen  Association of Arizona Food Banks  New Community Mobile Food Pantry, Naperville, IL Mark Arnoldy-focuses on international malnutrition Healthful meals & nutrition education for children Suzanne Lee, Dir. of Communications & Mktg.   Care & Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado  DeCA Dietician Ft. Lee, VA Homewatch Northwest Arkansas    Church World Service Greater Philadephia Coalition Against Hunger  Second Helpings, Indianapolis Miriam’s Kitchen–serving homeless in DC Bread for the City, Washington, DC   Tim Blair, hunger activist Poppy Pembroke Communications Mgr.,Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties  Heifer International  Heifer Portland  Kids Food Basket.  Grand Rapids, Michigan Holly Hight–Bread for the World  WHY  World Food Programme World Food Prize MAZON–hunger relief organization  End Child Hunger, Michael Farver First the Basics (helping people find hot meals) Union Rescue Mission, Little Rock  Kristin–Project Bread–The Walk for Hunger Phoenix Rescue Mission Sarah Hall Emily Bryant Mary Chant  Walk and Knock-annual food drive   Stacy Wong , Greater Boston Food Bank    Hands on Hartford Chicago Shares Timothy Cipriano, New Haven School Systems and Local Food Dude Meals on Wheels Serving Central Virginia A  Joyfull Holiday Lara DiPaola Jeffrey Strain, Penny Experiment  The Volunteer Way Harvest for Hunger Pittsburgh Food Bank Jennifer Stapleton, Bread for the World Bread for the World  Community Center of St. Bernard The Last Show–Karen   Robert J. Teitelbaum  The Dinner Garden Hartford Food System Second Harvest Heartland Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, Orlando  2nd Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara & San Mateo Counties Atlanta Community Food Bank   Arkansas Foodbank Network Bay Area Food Bank    Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, Inc.  Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado   Central IL Foodbank Central Pennsylvania Food Bank  Community Food Bank, Fresno, CA Chattanooga Area Food Bank   City Harvest   New York,NY Cleveland Foodbank, Inc. Community Food Bank of New Jersey Connecticut Food Bank Central Virginia Foodbank, Inc.,  Feeding South Florida, Miami Eastern Illinois Foodbank, Urbana America’s Second Harvest of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank Food Bank For New York City Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina, Raleigh Regional Food Bank Northeastern New York Food Bank of Corpus Christi Food Bank of Delaware, Newark Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley, Inc. Food Bank of the Rockies, Denver Foodbank of Santa Barbara County       Food Bank of South Jersey Food Bank of the Southern Tier, Elmira, NY Food Bank of Northern Indiana Greater Chicago Food Depository   Foodlink Food Bank, Rochester, NY Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, Raleigh, NC Freestore FoodBank, Cincinnati Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, Inc. The Greater Boston Food Bank Capital Area Food Bank, DC Harvesters – The Community Food Network, Kansas City Houston Food Bank High Plains Food Bank, Amarillo Los Angeles Regional Foodbank Lowcountry Food Bank, Charleston, SC MANNA FoodBank, Ashville NC Montana Food Bank Network Mid-Ohio FoodBank  Second Harvest Heartland Northern Illinois Food Bank Food Bank of Northern Nevada Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank North Texas Food Bank   Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina  Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina Oregon Food Bank Ozarks Food Harvest, Springfield, MO Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank Redwood Empire Food Bank, Santa Rosa, CA Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma (OKC) Rhode Island Community Food Bank, Providence San Antonio Food Bank   Second Harvest Ohio  Southeast Missouri Food Bank San Francisco Food Bank Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee South Texas Food Bank, Laredo South Plains Food Bank, Lubbock St. Louis Area Foodbank St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, Phoenix Tarrant Area Food Bank, Ft. Worth Three Square Food Bank, Las Vegas United Food Bank, Mesa AZ Utah Food Bank Services, Salt Lake City Vermont Foodbank, Inc., South Barre Weld Food Bank, Greeley, CO West Ohio Food Bank Culinary Schmooze The National School Food Drive Family to Family   The Online Carpool for Produce Global FoodBanking Network Iowa Food Bank Association  Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank, Duluth  Good Shepherd Food Bank, Maine  Kim Doyle Wille  Marlita H  Robin and Craig  Jeffrey Goldade Gary Ransome Robin Stephenson, Bread for the World  Community Servings, Massachusetts  Jeremy Lutgen,  Novis International  Here’s Life Inner City  Paladinette Metro CareRing, Denver  AARP Wisconsin  One Less Meal–Double D Diner
Twitter Lists–Hunger Relief (one click following) Share Our Strength (@ShareStrength) is doing a wonderful job of categorizing and

listing its stakeholders involved in hunger relief on the Twitter List tool.

Where’s the best online discussion of hunger



By Ed Nicholson

Shortly after we started this blog in 2007, I posed the question, "Where’s the Online Discussion of Hunger?"   At the time, there simply wasn’t much of a discussion occurring.

Pretty much the same when I asked the question again in May of 2009.

I still hold firmly to the belief that among the greatest potential benefits of social networking tools are their capabilities to build community and host online discourse.  And I’m now hopeful that is  occurring. 

More and more hunger organizations, some of which are listed below,  are using online channels to engage new stakeholders in the issue.    While some still cling tightly to the "broadcast the message" mentality, many are out there opening up two-way communications, stimulating, hosting and participating in discussions about how the problem of hunger is going to be solved.  These discussions occur offline.  Why can’t they be just as vibrant online?

Below are some places you’ll see thought-provoking content, with comment features enabled.  Where are some more?   Please comment.  I’ll be glad to add them to the "Helpful Links" on the righthand side of the page here. 


Share Our Strength Blog–In my opinion, Share Our Strength does absolutely the best job of all the national hunger relief organizations in using social networking tools–almost of of them–to engage stakeholders, not simply broadcast messages

Capital Area Food Bank Blog–Early to the game, and still one of the best social media communications programs of all the food banks.

Other food banks with good blogs     

North Texas Food Bank

Food Bank For New York City

Texas Food Bank Network

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida


Here’s an interesting Facebook group, with some discussion starting to happen:   Food ThINC–Think About Feeding 9 Billion People A Statewide partnershp fighting Hunger in Minnesota–Facebook group.


Next time: What’s a happening on Twitter. 


from a comment from Jon: – Joel Berg and the folks at NYCCAH are worth reading and discussing – the folks from Bread for the City in DC run a great blog

FRAC also has a newish blog focused on the pledge to end childhood hunger by 2015: 

Hunger isn’t their target issue but as we can all testify hunger is an issue with a lot of streams flowing into it so I always recommend Parke Wilde and the folks from Tufts’s food policy blog:

Along those same lines, but even broader and more diverse, I’d also recommend following Change.Org’s Poverty in America blog:

As We’re Thankful

Many of us will join family and friends for a big meal tomorrow. Certainly most will be thankful for blessings received throughout the year.

Many won’t have that luxury. According to this release from the Food Research and Action Center, more than 36 million people lived in households struggling against hunger in 2007.  Though the numbers aren’t in, it must be worse in 2008.

The people at Tyson Foods would like to extend our gratitude for the hundreds of food banks, the thousands of agencies, and the hundreds of thousands of people who put their time, their energy, their money and talents into helping feed those who are struggling.  We know that often it’s a job that doesn’t receive the thanks it truly deserves.

On this Thanksgiving, we offer the prayer that a day will come when your resources won’t need to be focused on feeding hungry people.  Meanwhile, we’re grateful–every day–that they are.