Food for the Hungry

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Food for the Hungry
Food for the Hungry logo
FounderLarry Ward
TypeInternational relief and development organization
PurposeTogether we follow God's call responding to human suffering and graduating communities from extreme poverty.
Area served
26 countries
Mark Viso

Food for the Hungry (also known as FH) is a Christian international relief, development, and advocacy organization with operations in more than 20 countries. Food for the Hungry was founded in 1971 by Dr. Larry Ward.[1] Food for the Hungry's stated mission for long-term development is to graduate communities of extreme poverty within 10–15 years. The organization does this by going to some of the hardest places with an exit strategy, empowering local leaders and walking "together" with them, as they lead their communities into being thriving, self-sustainable places to live. The organization also works in disaster relief and humanitarian response, including working with the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

The organization's name "Food for the Hungry" was taken from Book of Psalms 146:7: "He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry." Food for the Hungry is a charter member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, since February 1, 1980.[1]


Larry Ward founded the organization in 1971, with offices in Southern California. He moved the offices to Arizona in 1974. Early projects included helping refugees in war-torn Bangladesh, victims of the 1972 Nicaragua earthquake, rescuing Vietnamese "boat people" from the South China Sea, and helping hungry and needy people in Haiti and West Africa. The child sponsorship program was started in 1978. Hunger Corps, the people-sending division of Food for the Hungry, began in 1979.

Dr. Larry Ward retired as president of both the U.S. fundraising office and the international implementation arm of Food for the Hungry in 1984. He was succeeded by Ted Yamamori, Ph.D. As a young child, Yamamori had his own near-starvation experience at the end of World War II in Japan. He survived, thanks to the kindness of strangers. Dr. Yamamori retired in 2001, at which point two people were hired to replace him.[2] Randall Hoag was appointed president of Food for the Hungry International, and Benjamin K. Homan was appointed president of Food for the Hungry/U.S.[3]

Since 2006, FH has consolidated its U.S. and international operations, led by President Gary Edmonds. In the fall of 2018, Mike Meyers was named CEO of the organization, but stepped down in 2019 due to familial priorities. In early 2020, Mark Viso was announced as the new CEO and President.

Evolution of FH's work[edit]

When Larry Ward founded FH, it was the result of his hurting heart for the 12,000 children who were then dying of hunger related causes.[4] The predominant relief theory of the day was that poverty was caused by a lack of resources, so providing resources was the solution.[5]

Ward left his position as executive vice president and overseas director at World Vision in 1970[6] and headed out to help impoverished people by taking to Haiti resources he had purchased with his personal credit card.[4]

FH's first official response was to help refugees of war in the newly forming nation of Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) in 1971. The focus on relief operations continued into the late 1970s, although many of those countries became areas where FH helped the people recover through long-term development projects.

Disaster Responses that became Development Areas in 1970s

Year Location Disaster
1971 Bangladesh Returnees of war
1972 Nicaragua Earthquake victims
1976 Kenya Drought victims
1976 Guatemala Earthquake victims
1978 Philippines Refugees of war
1979 Dominican Republic Hurricane victims

Beginning in 1978, FH began to more intentionally increase its development work. This is when FH first began working in countries without first responding to a humanitarian disaster, through its child sponsorship program. The child sponsorship[1] program was launched in 1978 in Bolivia, Guatemala and Philippines. Additional fields that were added in the 1980s included Peru, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Uganda.

Growth of Development Areas in the 1980s

Division of FH Development work
FH Peru Child Development
FH Ethiopia Drought victims
FHDR Haiti border
FH Mozambique Civil war victims
FH Uganda AIDS & Civil war victims

Throughout the early 1990s, a greater emphasis on the community began to emerge as the focus for development. At the same time, conflicts such as terrorism, genocide and communist rebel activity were on the rise. FH developed a concise set of development principles focused on transforming communities by working closely with the churches, leaders and families. Over time, new and existing areas of operation would increasingly focus on addressing the whole of the community as an essential approach to serving the most vulnerable. Several fields of operation were added in the 1990s under this principle.

Growth of FH Relief and Development Areas in the early 1990s

Division of FH Development work
FH Cambodia Post-conflict response
FH Rwanda Post-conflict response
FH Zaire (now DRC) Post-conflict response

The first ten years of the 21st century would prove to be challenging yet provide new opportunities to adapt to developing global realities. Challenges came through several major emergencies that were added to the ongoing issues of hunger, poverty, HIV/AIDS and war.[7]

New Development Areas in the 2000s

Year Division of FH Development work
2001 FH South Sudan Post-conflict response
2004 FH Indonesia Tsunami response
2007 FH Burundi Emergency response
2009 FH Haiti HIV and disaster response

Cascade Groups

Beginning in 1997 FH began pioneering the innovative model of Cascade Groups into their developmental structure and programming. They have since been considered a leader and expert in the facilitation of these groups through their diligence and successful execution.

Cascade Groups uses of the idea of social networking to work in communities. Within this model, groups of 10-15 community-based volunteers educate their neighbors about health issues. The volunteer educators regularly meet together with FH staff for training and supervision. Each of the volunteers meets regularly with 10-15 of her neighbors to share what she has learned and to facilitate behavior change at the household level. This not only creates a multiplying effect, but it also provides the structure for a community health information system that reports on new pregnancies, births and deaths.

Since the Cascade Group model was first pioneered, it has been used by 20 (and counting) other Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) in more than 20 countries, largely through the support of the U.S. Agency for International Development. In particular, the USAID Child Survival and Health Grants Program and the USAID Food for Peace (Title II Food Security) Program have helped to fund programs using the Cascade Group model.[8]

Community Graduation and Implementation of CFCT

FH developed the concept of Child-focused Community Transformation (CFCT) between 2005 and 2011 and officially launched CFCT as a unified model for community transformation with child-focused outcomes at the center of field implementation and the organization's strategic plan. Since September 2011, CFCT has formed the base of all Food for the Hungry program models. A core component of Food for the Hungry's mission is to "focus on the most vulnerable," with children believed to be the most prominent and vulnerable members of the communities Food for the Hungry serves. Child-focused does not mean that all development activity is centered solely on children, since children are supported and cared for by their families and community leaders. Therefore, the majority of CFCT activities are focused on strengthening families, the church, and community leaders. "Transformation" encompasses the process of radical change in behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, and worldviews of individuals, communities, and cultures toward living in healthy relationship with God, others, themselves, and creation (Four Key Relationships).[9] The term "transformational development" refers to the work that Food for the Hungry staff and community members do to achieve mutual transformation and advance and accelerate measurable well-being improvements for the most vulnerable.

Since the creation of CFCT, Food for the Hungry's program strategy is designed to graduate communities of extreme poverty into self-sustainability within a decade. Following the organization's mission to end "all forms of human poverty," Food for the Hungry is also the only Christian international relief and development organization that measures both visible poverty (such as rates of malnutrition, level of education, etc.) as well as "invisible" dimensions of poverty including the emergence of hope and the ability to care for others.

Organizational Structure[edit]

Food for the Hungry, Inc. (FH/US) was incorporated by Larry Ward in the United States in 1971 and has existed continuously since then. Ward incorporated Food for the Hungry International (FHI) in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1980. FHI was part of Ward's dream to implement unified relief and development programs worldwide through an international partnership of supporting national organizations (NOs) or affiliates.

FH/US became a supporting NO for FHI, along with like NOs in Japan (established in 1981), Canada (established in 1988), Sweden (established in 1988), Switzerland (established in 1988), Korea (established in 1989), United Kingdom (established in 1989) and a second organization in the United States, Korea-American Food for the Hungry International (established in 2002).[7]

In 2006, FH restructured to align operations with NOs in Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States as members of FH Association (FHA), which was registered in Switzerland in November 2006.[10] Japan and Korea aligned as Food for the Hungry International Federation (FHF) and, though loosely affiliated as members of a larger FHI "family," operate separately from FHA.[11]

FH is the umbrella for all FHA NOs and relief and development fields. Field work occurs primarily in Asia, Africa, Central America, South America and the Caribbean.[12] NOs support this work by raising funds, supplying human resources and helping to design and evaluate field programs.

FH is governed by a unified Board of Directors providing direct oversight of FHA and FH/US[13] and is led by board chair, Larry Jones.

Biblical Holism[edit]

A biblical worldview is both a foundation and umbrella for FH's work. Food for the Hungry's Statement of Faith[14] corresponds to the Statement of Faith of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE).[15]

FH functions on the belief that poverty is the result of broken relationships: (1) between humans and humans, (2) between humans and creation and (3) between humans and God,[16] and that restoring these relationships in a holistic way is the key to overcoming poverty.

FH is not affiliated with any specific church or denomination, and its work is available to the world's most vulnerable people, regardless of race, gender or religion. While staff do not proselytize (use religious coercion or require a beneficiary to listen to a religious message before receiving help), biblical values infuse FH programs by promoting concepts that mend the broken relationships that result in poverty.[17]

The global FH partnership is committed to transformational development. This requires walking with churches, leaders and families to help them identify and overcome the issues that lock them in poverty. One of these issues is fatalistic worldviews that steal people's hope.[18]

Many organizations acknowledge that faith can be vital in development, including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).[19]

The Heartbeat[edit]

In 2014, Food for the Hungry created a revised version of their "Vision, Mission, and Values" called "The Heartbeat of FH." The heartbeat is the values and principles that guide and shape the organization and is composed of values, vision, and purpose.[20]


  1. We follow Jesus. We are ambassadors of Jesus in our thoughts, words, and deeds.
  2. Our work is relational. We pursue reconciled relationships of grace with those with whom we work, partner, and serve.
  3. We invest wisely and focus on results. We are stewards in God's kingdom and strive to invest all resources to maximize missional impact.
  4. We serve with humility. We recognize the dignity of others and put their interests above our own.
  5. We pursue beauty, goodness, and truth. We pursue beauty, goodness, and truth.


All forms of human poverty ended worldwide.


Together we follow God's call responding to human suffering and graduating communities from extreme poverty.

Examples of International Impact[edit]


In 1972, FH began working in Bangladesh by distributing rice to the poor. Since then, FH has focused efforts on community development including livelihoods, micro-lending, health, education and disaster response resilience. Over the last 40 years, FH has partnered with Bangladeshi leaders and impoverished communities to create better living conditions.

Since more than 900,000 Rohingya people fled violence in Myanmar to seek refuge in Bangladesh since August 2017, FH/Bangladesh responded with Medical Teams International (MTI) to provide critical health care and community health facilities to Rohingya refugees. The partnership is funded in part with grants from UNHCR, UNICEF, and others to provide psychosocial support and medical care with a special focus on vulnerable mothers and children.


In 1978, FH began working in Bolivia providing humanitarian aid in the high plains between the Andes Mountains ridge assisting with effects of El Niño. Since then, FH has focused efforts on community development including livelihoods, health, and education. Since Bolivia is vulnerable to natural disasters, much of FH's work there has also been in emergency response and relief aid.

Currently, FH Bolivia is developing 30 projects through a match from the municipal governments in some rural areas. The investment in the Poroma area in 2018 was $1,206,191, which includes funds for water projects, refurbishing classrooms, and establishing irrigation systems. In the Cochabamba region, FH is partnering with municipalities in 19 projects with an investment of $2,271,125 to improve community access to water and irrigation systems.


In 1990, FH began working in Cambodia by providing relief and aid to those living in refugee camps during the civil war. In 1992, they started to partner with poor communities in the Kampot Province to improve living conditions, and later expanded into northern Cambodia. Now, FH has focused efforts on community development and other areas of need to improve living conditions.

Since 2016, FH Cambodia has been fostering partnerships with education agencies and local organizations recognized by the Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MOEYS), to provide certification to preschool teachers after they finish modular early childhood teacher training courses. FH Cambodia has supported the training of more than 200 preschool teachers in accessing this opportunity to grow their skills and become equipped to teach children well.


FH started operating in Guatemala in 1976 in response to an earthquake that killed more than 23,000 people through the provision of clothing, food and plastic sheeting for temporary shelters. After officially establishing the office in 1981 to focus on child development, FH concentrated on meeting the needs of orphans and widows who had been affected by Guatemala's civil war. Today the work in Guatemala has expanded and deepened to focus on long-term community development, especially in the sector of child and infant health and nutrition.

In 2018, FH Guatemala used peer education through 104 Cascade Groups to spread messages to help reduce chronic malnutrition in 4,463 children. With the assistance of 1,269 volunteer mothers in Cascade Groups, new mothers have been taught how to breastfeed, recognize hunger and other cues from their babies, and how to properly respond to those cues for the health and development of their children.


In 1976, FH began working in Kenya in response to a devastating drought by providing emergency supplies and relief in the Marsabit district. Since then, FH has focused efforts on long-term development work including livelihoods, sanitation, water, health, nutrition, child development, and HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support.

Alongside The Kenya Resilient Arid Land Partnership for Integrated Development project, which benefits 70,000 people through a partnership with the Millennium Water Alliance and support from USAID and the Swiss Development Corporation, FH Kenya is implementing a program to increase access to water for people and livestock by strengthening the capacity of public, civil society, community, and private sector institutions. The program is also undertaking initiatives to rebuild a healthy rangeland ecosystem, thereby ensuring that access to water is sufficient for multiple uses and is sustained over time. This project began in 2015 and will continue until 2020.


In 1994, FH began responding to the serious humanitarian crisis caused by the genocide. In the immediate years following, FH implemented emergency programs in tracing and unifying children with their families, agriculture interventions, emergency food and non-food item distributions and livelihoods support. Since 2001, FH has focused efforts on long-term development work including livelihoods, food and education.

In 2017, FH Rwanda supported more than 18,000 students with school supplies while over 35,000 students benefited from new and improved classrooms, desks, latrines, and water tanks. These resources are supporting education alongside training by FH Rwanda that prepares parents and teachers to monitor child attendance, learning, and teaching in schools and be active participants in children's education.


FH is a charter member in good standing of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA).[1] Their audited financial statement for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2013 shows that 35 percent of funding came from the U.S. government, 62 percent from individuals, 3 percent from churches, businesses, and foundations. Of this funding, 83 percent was used on programs, 11 percent on fundraising and 6 percent on administrative costs.[21]


In 2012, Food for the Hungry was one of hundreds of non-profits chosen by the IRS for a routine audit of their tax return for 2007. They cooperated fully with the IRS. A preliminary letter listed several issues that IRS wanted to clarify. That letter was illegally leaked to the media, launching a media controversy over unconfirmed facts.[22] In March 2014, Food for the Hungry received a letter from the IRS. The letter accepted the tax return as originally submitted, and acknowledged that Food for the Hungry had followed all laws and accepted accounting practices.[23]

As charter members of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, Food for the Hungry are in compliance with their Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship. In addition, the organization has received GuideStar's Platinum Seal of Transparency, which is the highest level of recognition offered by Guidestar to non-profits and charities.

There are no outstanding issues concerning Food for the Hungry's involvement in issues with the IRS.


Food for the Hungry's HIV/AIDS prevention and care activities previously were smaller projects compared to its food distribution and development programs. In 2005, FH was awarded an $8.3 million grant through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to expand its prevention programs in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Mozambique and Haiti. This grant is part of a $100-million pool of PEPFAR abstinence funds awarded by USAID through its Abstinence and Healthy Choices for Youth program in 2005.[24]

Tom Davis, formerly Chief Program Officer for FH, developed the Barrier Analysis methodology earlier in his career and was a pioneer of the Care Group model, which empowers volunteer peer educators to promote life saving behaviors with mothers at the community level. In 2012, while working with FH, his work earned him the American Public Health Association Gordon-Wyon Award for Excellence in Community-Oriented Public Health, Epidemiology and Practice.[25]

In 2012, David Evans, then U.S. President of Food for the Hungry spoke at the 2012 Faith Summit on AIDS in Washington, DC. They were recognized for their volunteer efforts like transporting water, washing clothes, bathing those in need, counseling, and praying.[26]


Sports Initiatives[edit]

In the 2010s, Food for the Hungry began partnering with several Major League Baseball players and cultural icons. This culminated in the creation of two sports campaigns, Striking Out Poverty in 2016, which partners with players in the MLB, and FH Champions in 2017, which focuses on partnerships with players in the NFL. Striking Out Poverty (also known as "K Poverty" or "SOP") began with a focus on ending poverty in nine communities in the Dominican Republic, where baseball is the national sport and more than 500 baseball players in the MLB hail from the Dominican Republic. Food for the Hungry's Global Ambassador is Roberto Clemente Jr., a former pro baseball player and son of Roberto Clemente, the first Latin American player to compile 3,000 hits in Major League Baseball history.[27] Other athletes who have participated in Striking Out Poverty campaigns and vision trips include Nick Ahmed, Chase Anderson, Dee Gordon, Yasmani Grandal, Liam Hendriks, Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco, Rob Refsnyder, Moisés Sierra, Adam Wainwright, and Luke Weaver. NFL athletes who have worked with Food for the Hungry formerly as "Pro Player Partners" or as part of Champions by FH include Jarvis Jenkins, Jonathan Meeks, Derrick Morgan, Coty Sensabaugh, and Michael Thomas.

Artists and Influencers[edit]

Food for the Hungry also partners with Christian artists and influencers including Lauren Daigle, TobyMac, Lecrae, Switchfoot, Third Day and more as part of its Artists Program to promote Food for the Hungry at their concerts and events around the country. Each artists sponsors his or her own child with Food for the Hungry as part of their shared God-given mission with FH to end extreme poverty.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Food for the Hungry (Accredited Organization Profile)". Retrieved 2014-08-04.
  2. ^ "Feeding the Hungry Dr. Tetsunao Yamamori & Food for the Hungry". Mission Frontiers. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  3. ^ "Food For The Hungry, Phoenix Officials Assess Relief Programs in Indonesia". 2005-05-18. Retrieved 2014-08-04.
  4. ^ a b "The Food for the Hungry Story". Retrieved 2014-08-04.
  5. ^ "Keith Wright - Redux". Retrieved 2014-08-04.
  6. ^ "World Vision International, Inc.: Information from". Retrieved 2014-08-04.
  7. ^ a b "Food for the Hungry | ENN". Retrieved 2014-08-04.
  8. ^ "Definition & Criteria". Care Group Info. Retrieved 2014-08-04.
  9. ^ Myers, Bryant L. (2011). Walking with the poor : principles and practices of transformational development. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books. ISBN 978-1570759390.
  10. ^ "Food for the Hungry Association (FH) | GPPlatform". Retrieved 2014-08-04.
  11. ^[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "Work | Countries | Food for the Hungry". Retrieved 2014-08-04.
  13. ^ "Food for the Hungry". Retrieved 2014-08-04.
  14. ^ "About | Vision and Mission | Food for the Hungry". Retrieved 2014-08-04.
  15. ^ "Statement of Faith". Retrieved 2014-08-04.
  16. ^ "Biblical Worldview: Both a Foundation and an Umbrella - Food for the Hungry Blog". 2012-08-17. Retrieved 2014-08-04.
  17. ^ "Food for the Hungry". Retrieved 2014-08-04.
  18. ^ [1]
  19. ^ "Partnership Opportunities | U.S. Agency for International Development". 2014-07-18. Retrieved 2014-08-04.
  20. ^ "FH Values, Mission, and Purpose". Food for the Hungry.
  21. ^ "Food for the Hungry 2011 Annual Report by Food for the Hungry". ISSUU. Retrieved 2014-08-04.
  22. ^ "Gifts-in-Kind | Food for the Hungry". Retrieved 2014-08-04.
  23. ^ (PDF) Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-05-05. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  24. ^ Marina Walker Guevaraemail. "Food for the Hungry | Center for Public Integrity". Retrieved 2014-08-04.
  25. ^ "Gordon Wyon Awards". APHA. Archived from the original on 2011-07-04. Retrieved 2014-08-04.
  26. ^ Evans, Dave. "Faith Summit on AIDS Receives Accolades | Food for the Hungry". Retrieved 2014-08-04.
  27. ^ "Food for the Hungry Names Roberto Clemente Jr. Global Ambassador" (PDF). Food for the Hungry. March 16, 2017. Retrieved 2017-11-13.

External links[edit]