Spring 2016 Volume 23 Number 1 About this Issue This issue introduces individuals and organizations that are “thinking outside of the box.” Not sa

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Spring 2016

Volume 23

Number 1


About this Issue

This issue introduces individuals and organizations that are “thinking outside of the box.” Not satisfied with only providing the basic services that are expected to meet the requirements dictated by their mission statements, these innovators take the extra step of providing all the tools to effect real change in their communities.

It is only fitting that the first article in this issue was written by Bill Ayres as he brings this issue dealing with innovation full circle. Bill is no stranger to these pages as he has been associated with KIDS before there was a KIDS. We have learned a great deal from our association with Bill, and after 25 years of association we continue to learn from “the Master.” KIDS appreciates all he has done for us and for the world at large.

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How to End Hunger in America: Feeding People Is Only the First Step…By Bill Ayres

1 pdf

Bill Ayres

The way to end hunger is to feed people, right? That may seem like a nobrainer but it is not enough.

When Harry Chapin and I co-Founded WhyHunger in 1975 we knew that hunger in America had become a major problem. From the beginning, we believed that the root cause of hunger is poverty and the root cause of poverty is powerlessness in the face of economic injustice. We also knew that racism was at the core of hunger and poverty for tens of millions of Americans. Tragically, that has not changed in more than 40 years even though progress has been made on several fronts.

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A Path Forward: Innovations at the Intersection of Hunger & Health…By Siena Chrisman

2 pdf

Siena Chrisman

For decades, our nation’s emergency food providers have worked tirelessly to provide food to those in need, yet we are still in a hunger crisis. One in six Americans is food insecure— uncertain where their next meal will come from. And hunger still kills. In the U.S. in 2015, it is less often as a result of chronic food deprivation; instead hunger’s victims suffer from heart disease or diabetes or myriad other symptoms of poor health and malnutrition. With limited capacity, food pantries and soup kitchens are often forced to provide unhealthy, processed food to their clients—food that may fill a person up but is linked to serious diet-related illnesses and long-term health consequences.

When we talk about success in addressing U.S. food insecurity, we generally use metrics that tout pounds of food distributed, with the implication that the more pounds of food we can distribute, the closer we are to ending hunger. This narrow lens hides the malnutrition that is strongly correlated with disease and morbidity. For most Americans, malnutrition is a symptom not of insufficient food but of insufficient healthy food and balanced nutrition: malnutrition is lack of nourishment.

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Food Pantries: Not a Solution, but a Safety Net…By Ava L. McCall

3 pdf

Ava L. McCall

Food pantries often provide food needed by those who do not earn enough money to meet all their basic needs. They do not solve the problem of hunger, but allow people food when low wages, part-time or temporary work, unemployment, illness, disabilities, limited governmental assistance, and other life circumstances limit the amount of food they can purchase. During July and August of this year, I conducted interviews with 50 people in the local community who used the largest local food pantry to discover the circumstances which brought them to the pantry. In a city of 67,000 residents with 4.7% of the population unemployed and 19.2% of the population considered living in poverty (U.S. Census Bureau, 2015), 2050 households use the largest food pantry each month.

Even adults who work full-time to support a family of four may not earn the $21.80 to $36.76 per hour needed to pay for all their living expenses within the local community (Glasmeier, 2015). The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour does not allow anyone in the local community to meet all their basic expenses, including food, even if they work full time. A single adult needs to earn at least $9.93 per hour while two full-time, employed adults with no dependents each must earn at least $7.97 per hour (Glasmeier, 2015).

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Long Island Cares, Inc. - The Harry Chapin Food Bank: Pioneering New Approaches to Hunger Relief...By Paule T. Pachter, LMSW, CEO

4 pdf

Paule T. Pachter

Looking back over the past eight years, the staff at Long Island Cares, Inc. with the continued support and encouragement of our Board of Directors, along with the generosity of our donors has enabled our organization to pioneer new approaches in helping the more than 316,000 Long Islander’s affected by hunger and food insecurity. Food banks have traditionally functioned to distribute emergency food to people in need. As a result of continued poverty, unemployment, lack of resources or family support, catastrophic illness and other factors, people find themselves needing the services of a local food pantry, soup kitchen or food bank to access food, personal care products and other resources to meet their basic needs.

Historically, providing emergency food to people in need has been the hallmark of food banks including Long Island Cares, Inc. In 2009 at the height of the recession that significantly impacted our region, Long Island Cares completed a study of the capacity of the nearly 600 community-based emergency food distribution agencies and programs that we support and realized that our network with all its positive attributes, dedicated volunteers and humanitarian missions couldn’t expand to meet the increasing needs of our total population that were experiencing hardship. During the past eight years, we have had the opportunity to transform the way that emergency food and other needed resources are provided to Long Islanders coping with hunger, poverty, disasters and other life changing events. As the regional food bank for Long Island, and knowing that our founder, Harry Chapin would have wanted the organization to do more than just distribute food to those in need, we embarked on what we and our donors believe are new approaches to hunger relief. These approaches include developing innovative direct service programs and first-of-its-kind models of service that have been replicated and recognized with national and regional awards.

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Neighbors Together: The Vision...By Suzanne Babb

5 pdf

Suzanne Babb

For Neighbors Together, a dynamic soup kitchen and community center serving the Bedford-Stuyvesant, Ocean Hill and Brownsville neighborhoods in central Brooklyn, organizing work falls directly in line with their mission to end hunger and poverty. Founded in 1982, Neighbors Together’s original mission was to alleviate hunger and poverty, but over the years Neighbors Together’s vision extended beyond easing the burden of hunger in their community – they want to see an end to hunger. Neighbors Together’s staff and Board eventually made a decision to change the language of their mission to ending hunger and poverty, and began to engage their members in community organizing and advocacy efforts to effect real systemic change.

It is critical in good organizing work that any directly affected population has agency and voice in changing or determining policy that affect their daily lives, states Neighbors Together’s community organizer, Amy Blumsack. The organizing at Neighbors Together is carried out with the goal of involving their members (the low-income individuals and families who eat in their Community Café) in improving the many policies that adversely affect their daily lives. Neighbors Together’s organizing model is one that creates a variety of opportunities and levels of involvement for their members via the Community Action Program. The simplest way members can get involved is by signing a petition or postcard campaign when they come into the Café for a warm meal. From there, members learn more about Neighbors Together’s Community Action Program and can participate at deeper levels of engagement, such as attending weekly membership meetings, participating in educational or skill building workshops, coming to a rally or a lobby day event, or participating in their intensive 14-week Leadership Development Program.

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