“A Meal Around the Table Can Change a Kid’s Life”: The Transformative Work of U.S. Hunger

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Don Campbell, founder of U.S. Hunger, believes that community begins around the table. He brought this idea to life in 2006 when he and his family hosted neighborhood kids at their home in Sanford. “It started with three or four kids. Next thing you know, we had 20 to 30 kids, sometimes as many as 40, ranging in ages from 8 to 18,” he shared with Edible Orlando in 2014. “A meal around the table can change a kid’s life. Some of these kids were fatherless, and some were in foster care. They weren’t just hungry for a meal; they were hungry for family.” 

The History of U.S. Hunger

U.S. Hunger, previously known as Feeding Children Everywhere, was founded in 2010 when Campbell was at a crossroads in his career. Asking himself what was next, the answer felt obvious: “Feed children everywhere.” After earthquakes ravaged villages in Haiti, he sent meals to help with the recovery efforts. Since then, the organization has delivered over 140 million meals across the world, including throughout the United States. 

“Our model is about providing super foods through a really healthy meal that can be tailored into a lot of things for a lot of cultures,” he said. Meal options include Red Lentil Jambalaya and Italian Veggie Pasta. 

“People all over the world take [these base meals]and adapt [them],” he added. “People are so resourceful when given the chance.”

Expanding Their Mission

In January 2020, the organization launched its Full Cart® program, which serves as America’s Virtual Food Bank. Collaborating with key community partners, they provide food boxes directly to the front doors of those in need, with both dignity and discretion. Thanks to the support of generous individual and corporate donors, over 113,000 homes have received Full Cart® food to date.

As part of their mission, U.S. Hunger is also working with partners to identify and address the five major Social Determinants of Health (SDOH), which are the underlying poverty-driven socioeconomic factors that lead people to seek food in the first place. These factors include: access to education, food security, access to healthcare, affordable housing, and economic stability.

And, of course, in homage to its original name, U.S. Hunger continues to serve food to children around the world. In fact, in 2021, the organization has plans to launch Full Heart & Full Kids. Stay tuned for more details! 

U.S. Hunger believes that change begins around the table, but the organization’s reach goes far beyond that. If you’re interested in donating, click here to become a hunger hero. You can also host a meal packaging event to deepen your involvement. With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, your support means even more for the American-based beneficiaries of these meals! 

 

A version of this article originally appeared in the Fall 2014 issue of Edible Orlando.

 

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