Feed the Children: Working Together to End Childhood Hunger

Scott KilloughPhD – Senior Vice President, International Operations of Feed the Children

At its most basic level, hunger is the same everywhere. However, the context of how and where hunger occurs can determine the best course of action to address it successfully.

In countries like the United States, where more than 14 million children receive free breakfast at school, and more than 30 million receive lunches through the national school lunch program, we address the problem from multiple angles.

We provide meals when school is out of session, we distribute bulk food supplies to our community partners to fuel their food pantries and soup kitchens, we provide support to teachers and students through our five Teacher Store locations across the U.S., we work with corporate and community partners to host food distribution events, and we provide food, water and cleaning supplies to communities affected by disasters. The challenges are very different internationally in countries like Malawi, where children face issues such as lack of access to clean water and proper sanitation practices.

Whatever its form, hunger is a global issue. The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal #2 calls for bold action to end hunger in all its forms by 2030, as well as solutions to achieve food security and improve nutrition worldwide. A world with zero hunger is a universal goal, one everyone can contribute to in their own way.

Feed the Children – founded in 1979 with the mission to end childhood hunger – provides food, daily essentials, support for teachers and students, and disaster relief to those in need across the United States and in 10 countries around the world.

How We Serve Children in Need

As the Senior Vice President of International Operations at Feed the Children, I oversee our programs across 10 countries in Central America, the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, and East Asia. I coordinate country teams to plan, design, and implement community-based programs that support our anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs around the world.

These are some ways in which we work to feed children internationally:

1. Providing Nutrition Education

Education is the key tool to break that cycle of poverty. We engage with parents so they can learn about health and how to prepare nutritious food. We also engage with community leaders and local government officials to identify actions that can be taken to address hunger in the communities where we work.

2. The Care-Group Approach

We use The Care Group approach to create awareness around the importance of the first 1,000 days of the life of a child: if kids receive proper nutrition in this time, their chances to develop their full potential increase greatly. It is a peer-to-peer learning methodology, based on local needs, and intended to be replicated at a scale. We identify pregnant and lactating mothers, they receive training from Feed the Children staff and local government health authorities and then share health and nutrition messages with their community neighbors. It’s a very powerful mechanism for creating solidarity among mothers and caregivers and for increasing education and knowledge.

3. Mobilizing Local Savings

We organize small groups in villages where they learn about the basics of managing small funds. Over six months, they make individual contributions to a commonly-held capital fund and we train them on loans, interest rates, and repayment. Then, the members of the group can take individual loans and invest in developing a small business or buying school supplies. Having access to this relatively inexpensive capital to be able to make financial and economic decisions for the welfare of the family is just an amazing change.

A key component to fulfill our purpose is our corporate partnerships with allies like Herbalife Nutrition, who allow us to broaden our positive impact.

Feed the children work

A Global Partnership with Local Roots

Hunger is a complex issue that we can’t fight on our own. For this reason, one of our organizational strategies is to create and strengthen partnerships. We recently partnered with Herbalife Nutrition as part of their Nutrition for Zero Hunger initiative to help provide healthy, nutritious food to children and families that are at risk of experiencing food insecurity.

There are a couple of elements that are really important to us about this partnership. First, Herbalife Nutrition has proven expertise in the field of nutrition. Second, from the outset, they offered to support our work both domestically and internationally. For us, that’s a great benefit – and that’s not always an easy partner to find.

Feed the Children is very much dependent on working with and through local partners on the ground that know the needs of a community and how to get things done. I think this is another common feature we share with Herbalife Nutrition, who does its core work through independent distributors working in their local communities to help people live a healthier life.

How You Can Support

There are multiple ways any individual, family, or community group can join the fight and can contribute to the work that we do at Feed the Children:

Donate: Each donated dollar helps provide seven dollars’ worth of food, essentials, and more to hungry children and families here in the U.S. and around the world. Click here to donate.

Volunteer: Our programs are very much built on volunteerism. Not just the spirit of volunteerism, but actually how volunteer hours and resources and knowledge can grow our programs, to make a bigger impact. Click here to learn about volunteering opportunities.

Feed the Children volunteers

Awareness: The idea of recognizing, on an individual and community level, that hunger still is with us is very important. Click here to understand more about the factors that contribute to hunger and become more engaged on the topic.

If we are to achieve the zero-hunger goal by 2030, it’s going to require efforts from everyone: non-profits, corporations, governments, and individuals. It’s about contributing to something that’s larger than us all.