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Feeding America is a United States-based nonprofit 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. It is the third largest U.S. charity. Feeding America was known as America's Second Harvest until August 31, 2008.
In the late 1960s, when John van Hengel, a retired businessman in Phoenix, Arizona began volunteering at a local soup kitchen, he began soliciting food donations for the kitchen. He ended up with far more food than the kitchen could use in its operations. Around this time, he spoke with one of the clients, who told him that she regularly fed her family with discarded items from the grocery store's garbage bins. She told him that the food quality was fine, but that there should be a place where unwanted food could be stored and later accessed by people who needed it, similar to how banks store money.
Van Hengel began to actively solicit this unwanted food from grocery stores, local gardens, and nearby produce farms. His effort led to the creation of St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance in Phoenix, the nation's first food bank.
In 1975, St. Mary's was given 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.
In 2001, America's Second Harvest merged with Foodchain, which was the nation's largest food-rescue organization at that time.
In 2005, Feeding America began using an internal market with an artificial 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. 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 didn't need it, and the wrong types of food being delivered (e.g. not matching hot dogs with hot dog buns).
In September 2008, the organization name was changed to Feeding America.
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 were now facing the condition, about one in six of the population. 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.
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.
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.
Notable food banks in the network
There are more than 200 Feeding America food banks, each of which is "notable" for the work it does in its own area. A complete, and current, list is available at the Feeding America web site. These are just a few of the banks in the network:
- Alameda County Community Food Bank in Oakland, California
- Arkansas Foodbank Network in Little Rock, Arkansas
- Atlanta Community Food Bank] in metro Atlanta and north Georgia
- Banco de Alimentos de Puerto Rico in Bayamón, Puerto Rico
- Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado
- Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C.
- Community Action Services and Food Bank in Provo, Utah
- Community Food Bank of Central Alabama in Birmingham, Alabama
- Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona in Tucson, Arizona
- Connecticut Food Bank in East Haven, Connecticut
- Feeding America San Diego in San Diego, California
- Feeding Tampa Bay in Tampa, Florida
- Feeding the Gulf Coast, Theodore, Alabama serving the central Gulf Coast
- Feeding America West Michigan in Grand Rapids, Michigan
- Food Bank for Larimer County in Fort Collins, Colorado
- Foodlink in Rochester, New York
- Food Bank For New York City in New York City
- Food Bank of Alaska, Inc. in Anchorage, Alaska
- Food Bank of Delaware in Delaware
- Food Lifeline in Seattle, Washington
- Forgotten Harvest in Metro Detroit
- Freestore Foodbank in Cincinnati, Ohio
- Gleaners Community Food Bank in Southeastern Michigan
- Good Shepherd Food Bank in Maine
- Greater Boston Food Bank in Boston, Massachusetts
- Greater Chicago Food Depository in Chicago, Illinois
- Harvest Hope in Columbia, South Carolina
- Hawaii Foodbank, Inc. in Honolulu, Hawaii
- Houston Food Bank in Houston, Texas
- North Texas Food Bank in Dallas, Texas
- Philabundance in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Redwood Empire Food Bank in northern California
- Roadrunner Food Bank in Albuquerque, New Mexico
- Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services in Sacramento, California
- Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo County in Silicon Valley, California
- Second Harvest Food Bank in Irvine, California
- Second Harvest Food Bank in southern Louisiana
- Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio in Lorain, Ohio
- Second Harvest Inland Northwest in Spokane, Washington
- Second Harvest North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida
- Vermont Foodbank in Barre, Vermont
- Virginia Peninsula Food Bank in Hampton Roads, Virginia
- Second Harvest Toronto (Canada)
- "Hunger in America 2014". Feeding America. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
- "#3 The 50 Largest U.S. Charities". Forbes. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- "Second Harvest Heartland Feeding America". AgWired: News from the World of Agribusiness. 2 September 2008. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
- "Transitions". 2005-10-09. Archived from the original on 2008-07-21. Retrieved 2008-07-21.
- Patricia Sullivan (2005-10-08). "John van Hengel Dies at 83; Founded 1st Food Bank in 1967". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2008-07-21. Retrieved 2008-07-21.
- 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.
- Sendhil Mullainathan (7 October 2016). "Sending Potatoes to Idaho? How the Free Market Can Fight Poverty". New York Times.
- "'Idol' Charity Donations Top $60M - washingtonpost.com". The Washington Post. 2007-04-26. Archived from the original on 2008-07-21. Retrieved 2008-07-21.
- Center, Foundation. "America's Second Harvest Changes Name to Feeding America". Philanthropy News Digest (PND). Retrieved 2017-08-04.
- Coleman-Jensen, Alicia (September 2014). "Household Food Security in the United States in 2013" (PDF). United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
- Anti-hunger efforts under way in area Beloit daily news. 6 Sept 2012
- Food banks spotlight hunger awareness Amarillo globe news. 7 Sept 2012
- Alex Ferreras (2012-07-11). "Thousands More in Solano, Napa Counties are Turning to Food Banks". Archived from the original on 2012-07-17. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
- "Starbucks takes action after workers fret over wasted food". CBSnews.com. CBS News. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
- "Charity Report: Feeding America". BBB Wise Giving Alliance. December 2015. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
- Dewey, Caitlin (May 12, 2017). "Charities are realizing that poor people also deserve healthy food". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 14, 2017.
- Feeding America Online
- Hunger Action Month
- BBB Wise Giving Report on America's Second Harvest
- Charity Navigator report
- Canice Prendergast (13 August 2015). "The Allocation of Food to Food Banks" (PDF).