Project Synopsis

We believe that all people deserve adequate, healthy food. Yet, even in the United States, hunger is a serious problem. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, at least 14.5% of Americans were food insecure at some point during 2010. Feeding America estimates that today the rate has increased to 16.6%, and in some counties over 30%, with over 50 million Americans experiencing food insecurity. Over 43 million Americans are on food assistance. Why?

Our project, “Facing Hunger in America,” seeks to understand what works best to alleviate hunger in the US. What are the best practices; where are the gaps? How should we, other concerned individuals, religious institutions, businesses, and governmental and nongovernmental organizations make an effective difference? How do social policies and the mainstream system of feeding Americans need to change to better prevent hunger and unhealthy eating?

During June, 2010, we began a 2-year trip that will take us to all 50 states. In each state, we will volunteer in a program that assists people experiencing food insecurity -- programs such as food banks, food pantries, government assistance, feeding programs, shelters, community gardens, nutrition programs, and programs working for a more just society.

We are finding and choosing sites to include in this project through informal contacts, internet searches, and our own desires to include as wide a variety of innovative programs as we can.

At each site,  we will interview staff members and clients (as appropriate) to learn how the program operates and what they see as further needs.  These first-hand experiences will show us the real faces in the fight against hunger in America.

The project is sponsored by the West Michigan Conference of the United Methodist Church. It is entirely self-funded. We are traveling by minivan, camping and occasionally staying with friends.

As of September, 2011, we have visited and volunteered at 60 programs in 37 states and Washington DC. We expect to complete our visits to states in the spring of 2012.

As we go, we compile extensive notes and blog here about our experiences. We sometimes give informal presentations about our experiences so far. We also expect to summarize our experiences and conclusions in the form of periodic reports to our sponsoring organization in the United Methodist Church and any other interested organizations.  And finally, we will support, recommend, and lobby for changes we see as most effective to alleviate hunger.