The Alfred Banks Memorial Food for the Hungry Foundation is well aware of the staggering hunger problems beyond its principal area of concern — those in need in Hollywood, California:
- Nearly 1 billion of the world’s 7 billion people suffer from hunger.
- Approximately 9 million people die each year from hunger — more than succumb to AIDs, malaria, or TB combined.
- More than 60% of the world’s hungry are women, kept from equal access to resources in male-dominated societies.
- Hunger’s prevalence among women trickles down to their children. More than 3 million kids die of hunger each year, a number about equal to everything else that causes deaths in children under five.
Arrayed against these depressing facts are another startling set of statistics:
- The world produces enough food to feed everyone. Food availability per capita has increased from approximately 2220 kcal per person per day in the 1960s to 2790 kcals per person per day in 2016.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has reported that some 133 billion pounds of food from U.S. retail stores, restaurants and homes never make into people’s stomachs. Good, nutritional food is thrown out as waste because no one ate it or it was on a shelf too long for anyone to buy it.
The problem to be solved, it would seem, is one of distribution. How do we get all the food the world successfully produces and/or wastes to those who are hungry and in need of it? Given cultural attitudes, health matters, transportation problems, and cost issues, the solution is not a simple one. Thinking globally makes the challenge even more daunting. But what if we looked at the problem of food availability in terms of the problems of hunger in a small area? Now the challenge seems more manageable. Stores and restaurants are already hooked into food banks and other community resources that distribute food to the hungry in their immediate areas.
The group that is not now well organized for efficient food distribution are homeowners. And they probably waste each year the equivalent of what stores and restaurants throw out combined. Every May, the letter carriers of the U.S. Postal Service collect excess canned goods from their customers. More than a billion pounds of food have found their way to food banks as a result. But no organization similar to the National Association of Letter Carriers is equipped to collect excess food to be found in the freezers of homeowners; no group is ready to provide the manpower and tools, as well as the safeguards, required to pick the oranges, lemons, apples and other fruits growing in abundance in people’s front and back yards.
The Alfred Banks Memorial Food for the Hungry Foundation will dedicate 2018 to looking for a way to expand food distribution programs to include fresh, dated, and growing foods controlled by homeowners. It will also continue its regular programming efforts to “support food charities in general as well as organizations particularly devoted to providing for needy at-risk homeless youths in and around Hollywood, California.” During 2017, the Foundation accomplished the following:
- Donated its annual target of 5% of its assets to multiple separate organizations involved in food distribution.
- Gave money to the LA Mission to help ensure that hundreds of homeless individuals received a full trimmings meal at both Thanksgiving and Christmas.
- Continued its support for the Los Angeles Youth Network which provides meals, housing, employment assistance, and counseling for runaway and homeless kids in and around Hollywood between the ages of 12 to 20.