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

  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hunger-Solutions/141466027063?ref=ts A Statewide partnershp fighting Hunger in Minnesota–Facebook group.


Next time: What’s a happening on Twitter. 


from a comment from Jon:

http://nyccoalitionagainsthunger.wordpress.com/ – Joel Berg and the folks at NYCCAH are worth reading and discussing

http://breadforthecity.blogspot.com/ – 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: http://frac.org/blog/ 

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: http://usfoodpolicy.blogspot.com/

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

Art of the Cart 7

We have less than one month until we will elect our next President.  While this seemed quite far away two years ago when they began campaigning, several things have changed in our world, yet one things remains constant: the need to provide more food for those who simply do not have the needed nutritional resources. 
Since politics is such a “sticky wicket” as I am inclined to mention on occasion, I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about the power each of us has in the decision to feed our friends, neighbors and family members who are in need.
While it is easy to complain about a party’s position regarding the war, financial upheaval and a number of other critical areas where big government has dropped the ball, I would pose this question to all candidates: What is your position on food, and exactly how many meals do you think a person needs each day to survive, to thrive, to grow…………?   When they look at you with a what is likely to be a mouthful of rhetoric, take a deep breath and remember that the answer is quite easy: More than what millions of Americans are getting today. 
I would suggest we take one billion dollars and feed a few million people that cannot make ends meet, not because of what they have done or didn’t do.  But because they simply do not have the resources. 
I am amazed that a financial crisis which moves 700 billion dollars to purchase bad financial paper can bring a grown men to tears, while the thought of a family living on one meal a day–with that meal at risk–barely causes a facial nod. 
So what can we do in this situation?  Get out and vote.  Call the campaign office of the person you are considering for this honored office and ask what their position is on food.  Simple……..don’t take “no” for an answer.  Instead, think of the more than 35 million people in the United States who are food insecure.  It is an argument we cannot afford to lose.

Art of the Cart–6

By Susan Brockway

My position at Tyson allows me the privilege of working with food banks, agencies and hunger advocates all over the United States. My company has a major focus on hunger relief, but we are only one company.  There are hundreds just like mine who also see the need to provide time, talent and treasure.  Yet it is still not enough.
A day does not go by that I do not talk to three or four groups who collectively are trying to feed millions of individuals and families who are accessing services.  And the number of those at risk continues to rise.  At some locations, there is an increase of more than 70% over last year, with more funding cuts, less dollars available for operations and simply less food. 
I have also had the honor of working directly for agencies who provide services for the homeless and hungry, and am now a proud board member of a food bank in Arkansas.   My food bank suffers from the same condition of many agencies and groups who work tirelessly to advocate and provide services.  I would like to title this condition, IAMNOTWORHTYITIS.  I have given this quite a bit of thought and I know it will draw some healthy conversation, so I am going to knock this one out of the park and get people thinking.  
Through my various careers, I’ve attended a number of public presentations for CDBG dollars, other state and federal dollars being administered in communities; I’ve worked with FEMA, HUD and private foundations.   I would like to wag a finger at all of us in the hunger relief community for the way we approach the need for resources. 
In my role as a community relations manager, if I’m working for economic development, I have no difficulty getting people with money to a cocktail party, dinner or a networking event in the middle of the day and during the evenings.  I  am on both sides of the line as a corporate funder and a non-profit advocate so I have seen how successful business groups are in “selling their message”, obtaining millions of dollars in grants, revenues from local municipalities and foundations. 
On the other hand, as advocates for those in crisis of not eating, we can’t seem to step up to the plate and sell the mission and need for more money, food and programs.  Hunger is not sexy.  It is not as easy to get four executives to a peanut butter and jelly lunch at a Boys and Girls Club, so they can tour a facility and understand the need for more dollars to feed OUR children; not children in another country…….children that live in our neighborhoods.  I have no difficulty however getting four people on a golf cart to discuss business partnerships and how  it is important to work together to make the community better when economic development is concerned.   Easy sell, easy day, and great networking.
In my non-profit work, I am also guilty of not raising the roof and using every resource available, which includes board members, customers and agencies of my own food bank, and simply not standing for the status quo. 
Simply stated, we have resources that are underused and the comments usually go towards “that won’t work”.  Well, what we are doing is not working either, so what do we have to lose?  I want to hear from board members, agencies and others; let’s start to work together and move some resources towards those we are helping.  To get in the game, you have to be willing to get your hands dirty and stand up.  Are you willing?  I think you are, so let’s start today.

Righteous Indignation

by Ed Nicholson

It’s been kind of a crazy week here in the Tyson PR group.  Here’s why:
Last year, at one of Tyson’s 119 plants, a fresh chicken processing plant in Shelbyville, Tennessee, the RWDSU, the union representing team members at that plant, in contract negotiations, asked for a Ramadan holiday in consideration of the 250 Somali refugees working in the plant.  The Tyson folks at the negotiating table said, “Everyone at the company gets eight paid holidays.  You’d have to substitute it for one already in place.”   The union selected Labor Day as the holiday they wanted to substitute. This wasn’t as surprising as it might seem, since the plant, being a fresh chicken plant had traditionally worked on Labor Day to meet the demand for chicken for the holiday grills. The contract was ratified by union members in the plant.
Someone recently discovered the change, and word got out on the internet that Tyson had allowed a labor union to substitute the American holiday of Labor Day for the Muslim holiday of Eid al Fitr.  The response has been truly amazing.   Countless emails and phone calls.  Hundreds of blog postings, and interest from local, regional and national media. Responses ranged from truly concerned and open-to-dialog, to hateful, ugly, racist, even threatening.  Some were supportive . But the thing that impressed most was the level and intensity of anger among some groups.
This was all about a change at one plant, which was requested and approved by the union workers at that plant, and affected less than one percent of the company’s workforce. 
In the end, the company recommended, and the union members agreed that the contract be modified to reinstate Labor Day.  But the brouhaha over the matter was quite something to witness.
Now, I know that there’s great fear among some folks of the American way of life being threatened by “outsiders.”   And I realize that it’s our customers and the public who really decide where the Tyson brand resides.  I understand and respect the opinions of those who feel very, very strongly about this issue.  This is America.  Pride in our country is one of the things that makes it the best country in the world.  As do diversity of opinion and the right to free expression.
I’m not writing this to initiate a conversation on the merits of this particular issue. This space is focused on hunger and those who are engaged in the fight against hunger, so anyone who wants to comment on this as its own issue can go to the hundreds of other forums that exist for political discourse.
Here’s the intersection, and what crossed my mind during the days of response to this:  What if all of the passion, all of the energy, all of the thinking, arguing and action; all of the use of  communications resources, and people’s time and efforts that went into responding to this issue, were used to fight hunger?  What if as many people who became so righteously indignant over this were as equally impassioned over the fact that kids in their own communities are going to bed hungry?   What if people got angry over the fact that the greatest country in the world has hungry people in every one of its communities? And what if they acted with equal fervor over that anger?
Imagine what could be done.