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Joi Sears headshot

Ad Campaign Asks People in Other Countries to Donate to Hungry Americans

Words by Joi Sears

We have a hunger problem in the United States. Most Americans are blind to this fact. In a global survey released last year, more people said they struggled to afford food in America than in China. With over 49 million Americans hungry and living in poverty, food security is one of our most defining social justice issues.

This ad campaign by Great Nations Eat sheds light on this issue by encouraging people in other countries to donate to hungry Americans.

Hunger in America

Hunger affects 1 in 6 Americans. From city neighborhoods to rural farms, families across the nation struggle to put food on the table or are limited to cheap, unhealthy foods. The problem isn’t a lack of food. America produces more than enough food to feed every citizen. In fact, more than 40 percent of the food we produce goes to waste.

The problem isn’t necessarily a lack of money either. The United States is one of the world’s wealthiest nations with ample resources to feed those who are hungry. However, the problem lies in the fact that most Americans don’t acknowledge that there is a hunger problem at all. Hunger is brushed off as something that happens in villages somewhere in Africa, not something that we experience here.

The campaign

Great Nations Eat is a growing initiative that spreads awareness about the terrible cost of hunger and inspires Americans to take action. The campaign partners with nonprofits, filmmakers and media companies and is led by Share our Strength and the filmmakers behind "A Place at the Table."

Share our Strength is an organization which is dedicated to ending childhood hunger in America and ensuring that all children get the healthy food they need, every day. It connects kids in need with nutritious food and teaches their families how to cook healthy, affordable meals. The campaign also engages the public to make ending child hunger a national priority.

"A Place at the Table" is a documentary film that tells the story of hunger in America by looking at its impact on the lives of real families. The film, which was directed by Lori Silverbush and Kristi Jacobson, features well-known hunger advocates like Jeff Bridges and Tom Colicchio.

The ad campaign

"This was really to try to think a little more disruptively to get people's attention, to go right to the heart of the issue that people are not aware hunger is a problem in the United States," says Billy Shore, CEO and founder of Share Our Strength.

"I'd say that historically there's been a genre of media around hunger that looks kind of alike — stories of kids in rural areas like Appalachia or Alabama," he says. "Those stories are important and compelling, but they all have the same kind of message. The idea was to do something different, and point out that America can't be great on an empty stomach — really tap into this notion that it has to do with our strength as a nation, as a people, as a society. It's not just about these children — as important as that is — but it really impacts all of us.”

Shore believes the hunger problem is partly political. ”There are a set of issues around hunger, particularly child hunger in the United States, that are very solvable," says Shore. "The food exists; the programs are in place; they're funded; but not enough kids are accessing them. So, relative to other things, it's a very solvable problem. But it takes political will.”

He believes that the key is for more Americans to become aware that hunger is a problem and speak about it. "I think some of this is the paradox of being one of the wealthiest nations in the world — it being hard to believe that hunger exists at the level it does. And part of it is the fact of how polarized our politics have become over the last five to 10 years. But there has been a lot of support for anti-hunger campaigns historically. We think there's an opportunity to break out of the impasse on this particular issue.”

Call to action

The campaign calls for Americans to add their voices to the movement and fight against hunger. The No Kid Hungry program works to ensure that children who rely on free school lunch also have the chance to eat a healthy breakfast every day. The goal of the campaign is to connect 1 million more eligible kids with school breakfast in the next two years. It also offers the opportunity to send a message to local governors, state senators and representatives about the importance of a healthy breakfast.

If you need more convincing, check out this video of teen slam poets talking about how hunger is affecting our nation's kids.

Joi Sears headshotJoi Sears

Joi M. Sears is the Founder and Creative Director of Free People International, a social enterprise which specializes in offering creative solutions to the world's biggest social, environmental and economic challenges through the arts, design thinking and social innovation.

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