Pam o brian

Pam O'Brien

Ed. Notes- when this article was brought to my attention, it brought back memories of how much water has passed under the bridge since Jane and I founded KIDS. Our journey began over 30 years ago when we joined WhyHunger (WHY). The very first person we met at WHY was Noreen Springstead who was the receptionist at the front door. This article made me think about all the people we have met since that day and what we learned from them. Since we are approaching the time when we no longer will be active with KIDS and many friends we made. For the foreseeable future, I will introduce you to many people like Noreen who have made and will continue to make a difference in their community, country, and world.


Meet Noreen Springstead, the Woman Working to End World Hunger

No problem is too big to tackle for Noreen Springstead, the executive director of WhyHunger.

By Pam O'Brien

You may not know the name Noreen Springstead (yet), but she's proving to be a game-changer for, well, the entire world. Since 1992, she's worked for the nonprofit WhyHunger, which supports grassroots movements and fuels community solutions. These initiatives are rooted in social, environmental, racial, and economic justice with the goal of ending hunger in the U.S. and across the globe.

How She Got the Gig:

"When I graduated from college, I really thought I was going to go into the Peace Corps. Then, my boyfriend at the time (who became my husband), proposed to me at my graduation party. I thought, 'okay if I'm not going to do the Peace Corps, I have to do something meaningful with my life.' I looked and I looked, but it was in the early '90s and it was right during the recession, so it was very hard to get a job.

Then I started panicking and started interviewing at these pharmaceutical companies. I went to a headhunter, and they set me up on all these interviews. I would get out of the interview and get to the parking lot and feel like 'I'm going to throw up; I can't do this.'

I was also actively getting this trade paper called Community Jobs, which is now idealist.org, which was the place where you went to for nonprofit jobs. I saw this ad in it that I thought was interesting, so I called, and they said, 'Come in tomorrow.' After the interview, I went home, and immediately got a call from the founder, who was the executive director for many years, and he's said, "We'd love to have you. When you can you start?' I started the next day. At that time I had 33 rejection letters that I put on my refrigerator and I took them all off, put them on a skewer, and lit them on fire. I ran here, and I haven't left. I started at the front desk, and, basically, I've done every job in between at some point."

Why this Mission Matters:

Forty million Americans are struggling with hunger, but it can seem like an invisible problem. There is so much shame in asking for help. The truth is, flawed policies are to blame. After talking to our partner organizations, our team realized that hunger is about fair wages more than food scarcity. Many people who rely on food aid are working, but they ’re simply not earning enough to make ends meet.” These Inspiring Health and Fitness Charities Are Changing the World

Taking a Different Approach to Hunger:

“About seven years ago, we helped form an alliance called Closing the Hunger Gap to address the injustice at the heart of the issue. We’re bringing food banks and soup kitchens together to do things differently. I call it pathways out of poverty: not just handing someone food but sitting down with them and asking, ‘What are you struggling with? How can we help?’ We’re working with food banks to give them the courage to say we need to talk about ending hunger, not about measuring success in the number of people fed and dollars raised.

No, the Goal Isn't Too Big

“The secret sauce is having a passion for what you do. Keep driving at it. View your goal as achievable, but know that it’s a process. Recently, I’ve seen more people gravitating to the idea that hunger is totally solvable and that we need to look at the root causes. That makes me hopeful, especially as all these other movements spring up. Zero hunger is possible, and our work to build a deeply connected social movement will get us there.” (Related: Women Whose Passion Projects Are Helping to Change the World)

Pam Obrien is Deputy Editor, Shape magazine where this article was first published

CORRECTION- The link to the Ted Talk in last week's ICH was broken. Here is the correct link.


Noreen Springstead

eliminate hunger

About us

Kids Can Make a Difference is a program of iEARN (International Education and Resource Network), the world's largest non-profit global network. iEARN enables teachers and youth to use the Internet and other technologies to collaborate on projects that enhance learning and make a difference in the world.

Finding Solutions to Poverty & Inequality Alliance:

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