Hunger relief is a field of human activity aimed at eliminating chronic hunger and malnutrition. As of 2012, the United Nations's Food and Agriculture Organization reported that about 870 million people globally are suffering from severe hunger. Millions more suffer from food insecurity, including in the advanced economies of Europe and the United States.
Various methods are used to relieve hunger, including directly supplying the hungry with food; helping to develop people's abilities to grow or otherwise secure their own food; helping to develop related secondary skills such as budgeting; advocating and implementing economic reforms to improve the availability of affordable and healthy food in the marketplace.
Tens of thousands of organisations are engaged in hunger-relief efforts. For some, such as governments, corporations and religious groups, hunger relief is not their primary focus. Other organisations are dedicated to helping the hungry: these range from grass-roots local establishments such as independent soup kitchens, to multilateral agencies operating as part of the UN, such as the FAO or the World Food Programme. Many of these organisations are connected by a web of national and international alliances. For example, in the United States The Alliance to End Hunger is a national group with many smaller member groups, and is itself a member of several larger international groups, including the international civil society group Stop Hunger Now and the UN's Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition.
A soup kitchen is a place where food is offered to the hungry for free or at a below market price. Frequently located in lower-income neighborhoods, they are often staffed by volunteer organizations, such as church or community groups. Soup kitchens sometimes obtain food from a food bank for free or at a low price, because they are considered a charity, which makes it easier for them to feed the many people who require their services.
Throughout her works Lappé has argued that world hunger is caused not by the lack of food but rather by the inability of hungry people to gain access to the abundance of food that exists in the world and/or food-producing resources because they are simply too poor. She has posited that our current "thin democracy" creates a mal-distribution of power and resources that inevitably creates waste and an artificial scarcity of the essentials for sustainable living.