Catching Up with Feeding America
The coronavirus pandemic has changed so much in our lives, from where we work to how we buy our groceries. For many families across America, the economic impact of the pandemic means long-term financial hardship and sometimes more uncertainty when it comes to putting food on the table.
Feeding America is a national organization that aims to help solve this problem by ending hunger in the US through a nationwide network of food banks and community support. ForwardPMX has been a proud long-time agency partner of Feeding America, working alongside them to amplify their message and increase their donor base.
This year, as part of our global Movement Month Challenge, which saw staff compete to accumulate walking/running/biking miles to Tokyo as a way to celebrate the cancelled Summer Games, the North American ForwardPMX team chose to fundraise for Feeding America, and we couldn’t be more happy to support them!
Kerry Lenahan, AVP of Nonprofit Strategy at FP, had a virtual sit down with Alyson Morris, Sr. Manager of Donor Acquisition, to discuss the organization’s journey over the last six months and how they succeeded in bringing meals to millions of people across the nation in this difficult time.
1. To start us off, tell us more about Feeding America’s mission.
Our mission is to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger. For over 40 years, Feeding America has worked tirelessly to respond to the needs of individuals facing food insecurity and advocate for programs that secure and strengthen resources to help fight hunger. We also work to educate and bring awareness to the issue of food insecurity – a staggering 35 million people face hunger in this country.
As the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization and network of 200 food banks, Feeding America is committed to serving people in need in every community across the country. To give one very specific example of our work, we provide funding and technical assistance to regional produce cooperatives that facilitate large fresh fruit and vegetable donations to increase food variety for food banks and the people they serve. In FY20, families nationwide received more than 1.8 billion pounds of fresh produce distributed by our network. This is just one of the many programs and initiatives we’re driving in an effort to get nutritious food to our neighbors struggling with hunger.
2. Talk to us about the work Feeding America has been doing over the last 6 months for COVID relief.
The pandemic thrust millions of people into hardships, such as unemployment or lost access to free school meals, and because of this, the Feeding America network saw unprecedented levels of demand. In the first few months alone – from March through July – we distributed 2.5 billion meals to people facing hunger across the country. In a time when there was a perfect storm of increased need, disrupted or broken supply chains and a reduced pool of volunteer help, this was truly an amazing feat and group effort accomplished by our dedicated network, partners, staff, donors and advocates. It’s been so heartwarming to see the outpouring of support for the entire organization and the focus on helping our neighbors facing hunger.
3. In what ways has Feeding America experienced success in their marketing and fundraising efforts in the last 6 months and what do you attribute that to?
We’ve experienced an overwhelming amount of support across the board on all fronts. Our engagements online and fundraising efforts both online and offline are reaching levels we have never seen prior to COVID-19. Media coverage of the increased need for food donations across the country and mentions of Feeding America have been an impetus for this wave of support. It has also helped to have some big events on national TV that mentioned Feeding America, such as iHeart’s “Living Room Concert for America” and the Parks and Recreation reunion special. Through these communications, we’ve tried to make it clear that 100% of the dollars raised for the COVID-19 Response Fund go directly to support the food bank network to help get food to people in need.
4. What ongoing challenges will America be facing in terms of Hunger this year?
As a result of the pandemic, it’s estimated that 1 in 6 people may face food insecurity in 2020, up from 1 in 9 in 2019. Because of COVID-19, more people are visiting food banks and many of them are getting help for the first time; in fact, 4 in 10 individuals being served by the Feeding America network are new to charitable food assistance. Our neighbors who previously had stable incomes have now lost jobs or had their hours cut back, and food banks are stepping up, as they always have, to put food on the table for people who need it during this uncertain time.
5. What is one thing that Americans can do to help support the Feeding America mission?
We want to be sure everyone knows there are many ways to help! First, learn more about hunger in America (shameless plug for our website here… feedingamerica.org). Show your love and thank food bank heroes for being there on the front lines to help! You can easily find your local food bank on this page of our site. Use your voice and spread the word about the increased need and the great work of so many terrific organizations helping during this crisis. Volunteer if you’re able to and, if you can, give, donate or fundraise. We’re all in this together!
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