Feeding America

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Feeding America
Formation1979; 45 years ago (1979) (as America's Second Harvest)
FounderJohn van Hengel
Headquarters161 North Clark Street Suite 700,[1] Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Coordinates41°53′11″N 87°37′36″W / 41.88639°N 87.62667°W / 41.88639; -87.62667
Region served
United States
200 food banks
Claire Babineaux-Fontenot
Main organ
Board of directors
$3.574 billion (2021)[2]

Feeding America is a United States–based non-profit organization that is a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks that feed more than 46 million people through food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and other community-based agencies.[3] Forbes ranks it as the largest U.S. charity by revenue.[4] Feeding America was known as America's Second Harvest until August 31, 2008.[5]


In the mid-1960s, during rehabilitation in Phoenix, Arizona, after a paralyzing injury, John van Hengel began volunteering at a local soup kitchen. He solicited food donations and ended up with far more food than the kitchen could use. Around this time, one of the clients told him that she regularly fed her children with discarded items from a grocery store garbage dumpster. She told him that the food quality was fine, but that there should be a place where unwanted food could be deposited and later withdrawn by people who needed it, like a bank.

Van Hengel began to actively solicit unwanted food from grocery stores, local gardens, and nearby citrus groves. His effort led to the creation of St. Mary's Food Bank in Phoenix, the nation's first food bank.[6]

In 1975, St. Mary's was awarded a federal grant to assist in developing food banks across the nation. This effort was formally incorporated into a separate non-profit organization in 1976.[7]

In 2001, America's Second Harvest merged with Foodchain,[8] which was the nation's largest food-rescue organization at that time.

In 2005, Feeding America began using an internal market with a synthetic currency called "shares" to more rationally allocate food. Currency is allocated based on the need, and then individual banks bid on which foods they want the most, based on local knowledge and ability to transport and store the food offered.[9] Negative prices are possible, so banks could earn shares by picking up undesirable food. The previous centrally planned system had penalized banks for refusing any food offered, even if it was the wrong type to meet their needs, and this resulted in misallocations ("sending potatoes to Idaho"), food rotted away in places that did not need it, and the wrong types of food being delivered (e.g. not matching hot dogs with hot dog buns).[10]

In May 2007, it was featured on American Idol, named as a charity in the Idol Gives Back charity program.[11]

In September 2008, the organization name was changed from America's Second Harvest to Feeding America.[12]

In August 2009, Columbia Records announced that all U.S. royalties from Bob Dylan's album Christmas in the Heart would be donated to Feeding America, in perpetuity.[13]

There has been a rise in the numbers suffering from hunger since the financial crisis of 2007–2008. In 2013, the USDA reported that about 49 million U.S. Americans faced poor nutrition, about one in six of the population.[14] In September, they launched Hunger Action Month, with events planned all over the nation, to raise awareness and get more U.S. Americans involved in helping out.[15][16][17]

In 2015, Feeding America saved more than 2  billion pounds (~907 thousand metric tons) of food that would have been thrown away otherwise, but could instead be distributed to hungry families.[18]

In 2018, the USDA announced that food insecurity had been steadily declining since the 2009 recession ended.[19]

In 2020, Feeding America said that there were about 11 million children suffering from hunger in the United States. Children, along with families and seniors having trouble making ends meet, were suffering the most.[20]

The COVID-19 pandemic increased hunger levels and the number of people in need of food banks. According to Patti Habeck, the President of Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, the number of people increased by 36% at the height of the pandemic and had not yet decreased until autumn of 2021.[21]

Feeding America created the MealConnect platform in 2014, which helps food donors like grocery stores, restaurants, and caterers to connect with local food banks and pantries.[22] The platform helps to reduce food waste and increase the efficiency of food donations. In June 2020, Feeding America expanded MealConnect's operations nationwide.[23]


Bob Aiken was its first CEO. Matt Knott was its interim-CEO in 2015. On October 1, 2015, Diana Aviv became its second CEO.[24] On October 1, 2018, Claire Babineaux-Fontenot became its third CEO.[25][26]

Network programs[edit]

Feeding America works to educate the general public and keep them informed about hunger in America. The national office produces educational and research papers that spotlight aspects of hunger and provides information on hunger, poverty and the programs that serve vulnerable Americans. Feeding America's public policy staff works with legislators, conducting research, testifying at hearings and advocating for changes in public attitudes and laws that support Feeding America's network and those the organization serves.[27]

In 2017, Feeding America announced a plan to increase the nutritional value of food from food banks. By 2023, the group plans to offer more fruits and vegetables, and provide training so they can distribute more produce, whole grains and lean proteins.[28]

There are more than 200 Feeding America food banks, each of which works in its own area. A complete and current list is available at the Feeding America web site. Food banks in the network include:


Feeding America receives financial and in-kind support from a wide variety of corporations, non-profit organizations, and individual donors, including in the form of direct food donations and advocacy support. Top providers of grocery products include 7-Eleven, Amazon, Costco, CVS Health, General Mills, Kraft Heinz, Sam's Club, Target Corporation, Trader Joe's, and Walmart.[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "AnnReport 2020" (PDF).
  2. ^ "Feeding America". Forbes. Retrieved April 9, 2022.
  3. ^ "Hunger in America 2014". Feeding America. Retrieved August 27, 2016.
  4. ^ "#2 The 100 Largest U.S. Charities 2018". Forbes. Retrieved November 8, 2019.
  5. ^ "Second Harvest Heartland Feeding America". AgWired: News from the World of Agribusiness. September 2, 2008. Retrieved August 27, 2016.
  6. ^ "Transitions". October 9, 2005. Archived from the original on October 3, 2008. Retrieved July 21, 2008.
  7. ^ Sullivan, Patricia (October 8, 2005). "John van Hengel Dies at 83; Founded 1st Food Bank in 1967". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on November 6, 2012. Retrieved July 21, 2008.
  8. ^ O'Connor, Alice; Mink, Gwendolyn (2004). Poverty in the United States: an encyclopedia of history, politics, and policy. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO. p. 389. ISBN 1-57607-597-4.
  9. ^ Mullainathan, Sendhil (October 7, 2016). "Sending Potatoes to Idaho? How the Free Market Can Fight Poverty". The New York Times.
  10. ^ "Free Market Food Banks". Marginal REVOLUTION. November 3, 2015.
  11. ^ "'Idol' Charity Donations Top $60M". The Washington Post. April 26, 2007. Archived from the original on November 6, 2012. Retrieved July 21, 2008.
  12. ^ "America's Second Harvest Changes Name to Feeding America". Philanthropy News Digest (PND). Retrieved August 4, 2017.
  13. ^ Dobuzinskis, Alex (August 26, 2009). "Bob Dylan's Christmas album to benefit charity". Reuters. Retrieved April 16, 2020.
  14. ^ Coleman-Jensen, Alicia (September 2014). "Household Food Security in the United States in 2013" (PDF). United States Department of Agriculture. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 17, 2016. Retrieved August 27, 2016.
  15. ^ Anti-hunger efforts under way in area Archived January 21, 2013, at archive.today Beloit daily news. September 6, 2012
  16. ^ Food banks spotlight hunger awareness Amarillo globe news. September 7, 2012
  17. ^ Ferreras, Alex (July 11, 2012). "Thousands More in Solano, Napa Counties are Turning to Food Banks". Archived from the original on July 17, 2012. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
  18. ^ "Starbucks takes action after workers fret over wasted food". CBS News. April 25, 2016. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  19. ^ "USDA ERS - Key Statistics & Graphics". ers.USDA.gov.
  20. ^ Feeding America. "Facts about poverty and hunger in America." Feeding America, 2020, https://foodshare.com/hunger-in-ventura-county/facts[permanent dead link].
  21. ^ "Feeding America looks to the future as pandemic winds down while need stays elevated". WFRV Local 5 - Green Bay, Appleton. September 30, 2021. Retrieved October 2, 2021.
  22. ^ "Feeding America Launches Campaign to Promote Food Rescue for Retailers". CStore Decisions. September 7, 2021. Retrieved October 2, 2021.
  23. ^ "Feeding America Makes MealConnect Available Nationwide". Food Bank News. June 22, 2020. Retrieved October 2, 2021.
  24. ^ Ford, Sarah (July 1, 2015). "Independent Sector's Diana Aviv to Become New CEO of America's Charities Member, Feeding America". charities.org. Retrieved March 20, 2020.
  25. ^ "Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, Chief Executive Officer". feedingamerica.org. Retrieved March 20, 2020.
  26. ^ "Feeding America Grabs New CEO From Walmart". thenonprofittimes.com. September 26, 2018. Retrieved March 20, 2020.
  27. ^ "Charity Report: Feeding America". BBB Wise Giving Alliance. December 2015. Archived from the original on October 7, 2014. Retrieved August 27, 2016.
  28. ^ Dewey, Caitlin (May 12, 2017). "Charities are realizing that poor people also deserve healthy food". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 14, 2017.
  29. ^ "Food & Fund Partners". Feeding America. 2022. Archived from the original on July 3, 2022. Retrieved July 3, 2022.

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