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).

Real hunger people don’t talk.

Last week, I asked the question—which I’ve been asking for years—“Where’s the online discussion of hunger?”   Crickets.

Dang folks.  These online channels—blogs, social media, forums, etc.—offer enormous potential for exciting and diverse discourse.  The hunger community is a passionate and opinionated bunch.  There’s enough diversity of thought among those who care about feeding people to have some really interesting discussion going on?  So why don’t we?

When I asked the question last week, social-media-for-social good expert Beth Kanter suggested on twitter that perhaps hunger fighters were too focused on making change offline to be spending energy in online discussion.  I think she’s correct.  To a certain degree.

Here’s my thinking right now (note: There’s a bit of devil’s advocacy here, and the view does not necessarily reflect those of my employer or fellow team members. And it is a generalization, for which there are notable exceptions.  Apologies to those folks, and you know who you are—you’ll likely be the ones who comment here):

Many of the people who are on the front lines, who are the best informed and have the strongest views on the issue of hunger, are not participating online. They’re digital immigrants, if they use technology at all.   They are indeed busy offline.    They have, instead delegated the responsibility of online participation to marketing people.

Many of the marketing people in hunger relief (some working for the largest organizations)  just haven’t yet embraced the concept of online conversations and community building.  Hunger is not their thing. Marketing is. They’re intensely focused on their own organizational objectives and metrics, many of which ultimately direct to fundraising.  That’s how they’re wired.  Consequently, there’s little conversation.  Little sharing of meaningful content.  No engaging with those who aren’t direct stakeholders, especially those who might have a different point of view (or aren’t funders).

Okay.  I’ve poked a hornet’s nest.  Prove me wrong.  Discuss.

Photo by al3xadk1n5 Flickr Creative Commons

Where’s the online discussion about hunger?

This is a post from four years ago, May, 2008.  I didn’t receive much of an answer then.  There were only a few of us involved in hunger relief using social channels back then.  Since then, use of social media has exploded. Most every hunger relief organization has an active social media presence now.  Take a look at the post below.  Disregard the stuff made silly by technology changes (“I even Twitter…:-) But I’m still interested in the subject line question.   Any thoughts? Where’s it really happening?

By Ed Nicholson

For the past few years, those of us in public relations have been receiving a constant stream of reminders that the ground is shifting beneath our feet. That the way we communicate, engage stakeholders,  and participate in communities is being revolutionized by breakthrough communications vehicles.  I’m one who happens to believe that’s true.

While I still can’t start my day without dead trees, more and more of my daily information flow is being delivered to my desktop via RSS.    I author and contribute to several blogs, including this one.  I have a (relatively inactive) Facebook account  and a growing number of Linkedin contacts.
I even Twitter.

I’ve discovered that all over the Web, there are vibrant, stimulating, engaging discussions occurring in ever-growing communities on virtually any subject or any issue one might imagine.

But for the life of me,  I can’t find much more than static content from the hunger community online.  I’ve done Technorati and Google searches.  “Hunger Relief” is on my daily Bloglines feed.  Not much there in the way of active discourse. Lots of folks talking at  people, but not many real conversations.

Beth Scofield put together an incredibly well-built online presence with SOS in, with an all-star cast of contributors. Comments were enabled (and I’m certain encouraged), but one can count the number of comments on two hands. Before its time…?

I know this is a passionate community.  I’ve been to A2H and SOS conferences, and you won’t find a more committed, articulate, educated bunch in the world.  People like Michael Farver (who himself is very hip to technology).  They certainly aren’t afraid to speak out when they’re face-to-face. And they have some remarkable things to contribute.

Helloooo…..Anyone out there?  Maybe, there’s a party going on somewhere to which I’ve simply not been invited.  If so, please let me know.  We’ll put a link up on this site to try to drive more traffic that way.

Meanwhile, we’d appreciate your adding this site to your RSS feed.    We’re bound and determined to play a role in stimulating the online discussion about this issue.

Got a comment?   PLEASE jump in.

Hunger Relief Twitterers

We created this blog in 2007, with the goal of raising awareness of the issue of hunger and supporting the community of people and organizations involved in hunger relief.   Early on I was excited about the potential of social media tools bringing the hunger community together.  In early 2008, I created a list of those in the hunger community using Twitter. It had about twenty accounts.  It’s grown a bit since then–see below. Go follow these folks.   If  you’re interested in having your name attached, message me on Twitter @TysonFoods.

disclaimer–while I do try to keep the list current, it’s three years old, so there might be a few inactive accounts on here.    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–CEO Second Harvest Food Bank, St. Joseph, Missouri      Lisa Goddard, Online Marketing Director, CAFB  John Lyon, Faith-Based Capacity Building-VISTA, CAFB r  JC Dwyer, Texas Food Bank Network, Statewide Advocacy Director,  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      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 r   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    Sue Kerr,  The Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project  North Hills Community Outreach  FB  Westmoreland County Food Bank  South Hills Interfaith Ministeries


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.


Facebook Poll Results Announced

Thank you for you for rallying your community and raising hunger awareness during Tyson’s Hunger Action Month Facebook Poll . A total of 37,941 votes were cast.

Congratulations to the top three finishers!

The final results are:

Food Bank of the Albemarle- Elizabeth City, NC: (9,467 votes)
Yuma Community Food Bank- Yuma, AZ: (9, 435 votes)
Mississippi Food Network- Jackson, MS: (3, 425 votes)
Montgomery Area Food Bank, Inc.: (3, 136 votes)
Central Virginia Food Bank- Richmond, VA: (2,665 votes)
Mid-South Food Bank- Memphis, TN: (2, 515 votes)
Lowcountry Food Bank- Charleston, SC: (2,236 votes)
Second Harvest of South Georgia, Inc.: (1,931 votes)
Food Bank of Northeast Louisiana- Monroe, LA: (1,867 votes)
Feeding the Valley Food Bank- Columbus, GA: (1,264 votes)

The top three finishers will receive a truckload of food in the next month or so. BUT, since participation has been so great, we’ve decided that sometime in the next year, all the participating foodbanks will get a truckload of food. It will probably take us a while to get to everyone, but we will. Thanks again for your participation.

Please stay involved in hunger relief.   A great way to start is by connecting with our local foodbank or going to Feeding America’s Hunger Action Center.   The need is so great, and there’s so much to be done.