In a country that wastes billions of pounds of food each year, it’s almost shocking that anyone in America goes hungry. Yet every day, there are millions of children and adults who do not get the meals they need to thrive. We work to get nourishing food – from farmers, manufacturers, and retailers – to people in need. At the same time, we also seek to help the people we serve to build a path to a brighter, food-secure future.
For more than 40 years, Feeding America has responded to the needs of individuals struggling with food insecurity in this country. In times of uncertainty, we have not wavered from our mission to end the fight against hunger.
The Feeding America Network is 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs strong.
When you support Feeding America, you are helping our nationwide network of food banks deliver programs at the front line of hunger. Programs like school-based food pantries, emergency disaster relief, and Kids’ Cafe.
When people face hunger, they often struggle to meet other basic needs as well — such as housing, employment and healthcare. That’s why Feeding America is committed to more than providing food for people in need.
US nonprofit organization and food bank network
Feeding America is a United States–based nonprofit organization that is a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks that feed more than 46 million people through food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and other community-based agencies. Forbes ranks it as the second largest U.S. charity by revenue. Feeding America was known as America's Second Harvest until August 31, 2008.
In the mid 1960s, during rehabilitation in Phoenix, Arizona after a paralyzing injury, John van Hengel began volunteering at a local soup kitchen. He solicited food donations and ended up with far more food than the kitchen could use. Around this time, one of the clients told him that she regularly fed her children with discarded items from a grocery store garbage dumpster. She told him that the food quality was fine, but that there should be a place where unwanted food could be deposited and later withdrawn by people who needed it, like a bank.
Van Hengel began to actively solicit unwanted food from grocery stores, local gardens, and nearby citrus groves. His effort led to the creation of St. Mary's Food Bank in Phoenix, the nation's first food bank.
In 1975, St. Mary's was awarded a federal grant to assist in developing food banks across the nation. This effort was formally incorporated into a separate non-profit organization in 1976.
In 2001, America's Second Harvest merged with Foodchain, which was the nation's largest food-rescue organization at that time.
In 2005, Feeding America began using an internal market with a synthetic currency called "shares" to more rationally allocate food. Currency is allocated based on the need, and then individual banks bid on which foods they want the most, based on local knowledge and ability to transport and store the food offered. Negative prices are possible, so banks could earn shares by picking up undesirable food. The previous centrally planned system had penalized banks for refusing any food offered, even if it was the wrong type to meet their needs, and this resulted in misallocations ("sending potatoes to Idaho"), food rotted away in places that did not need it, and the wrong types of food being delivered (e.g. not matching hot dogs with hot dog buns).
In May 2007, it was featured on American Idol, named as a charity in the Idol Gives Back charity program.
In September 2008, the organization name was changed from America's Second Harvest to Feeding America.
In August 2009, Columbia Records announced that all U.S. royalties from Bob Dylan's album Christmas in the Heart would be donated to Feeding America, in perpetuity.
There has been a rise in the numbers suffering from hunger since the financial crisis of 2007–2008. In 2013, the USDA reported that about 49 million U.S. Americans faced poor nutrition, about one in six of the population. In September, they launched Hunger Action Month, with events planned all over the nation, to raise awareness and get more U.S. Americans involved in helping out.
In 2015, Feeding America saved more than 2 billion pounds (~907 thousand metric tons) of food that would have been thrown away otherwise, but could instead be distributed to hungry families.
In 2018, the USDA announced that food insecurity had been steadily declining since the 2009 recession ended.
In 2020, Feeding America said that there were about 11 million children suffering from hunger in the United States. Children, along with families and seniors having trouble making ends meet, were suffering the most.
Feeding America works to educate the general public and keep them informed about hunger in America. The national office produces educational and research papers that spotlight aspects of hunger and provides information on hunger, poverty and the programs that serve vulnerable Americans. Feeding America's public policy staff works with legislators, conducting research, testifying at hearings and advocating for changes in public attitudes and laws that support Feeding America's network and those the organization serves.
In 2017, Feeding America announced a plan to increase the nutritional value of food from food banks. By 2023, the group plans to offer more fruits and vegetables, and provide training so they can distribute more produce, whole grains and lean proteins.
There are more than 200 Feeding America food banks, each of which works in its own area. A complete and current list is available at the Feeding America web site. Food banks in the network include:
CHICAGO, IL 60601-3389 | Tax-exempt since Jan. 1990
Classification (NTEE) Food Banks, Food Pantries (Food, Agriculture and Nutrition)
Nonprofit Tax Code Designation: 501(c)(3) Defined as: Organizations for any of the following purposes: religious, educational, charitable, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition (as long as it doesn’t provide athletic facilities or equipment), or the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.
Donations to this organization are tax deductible.