Breaking Down Silos to End Hunger
By bringing together non-profit organizations, universities, and private companies, the Alliance to End Hunger is working to break down silos to end hunger in the U.S. and abroad.
“The diversity of our membership allows us to go to policymakers and show that the full community of advocates and organizations are committed to this effort,” Eric Mitchell, Executive Director of the Alliance, tells Food Tank.
The Alliance’s current legislative priorities include increasing investment towards the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), authorizing a permanent and nationwide Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program, and extending the federal Child Tax Credit.
The Alliance also supports Hunger Free Communities (HFC). HFCs are multi-sector coalitions that work to end hunger in their communities. Every year, The Alliance convenes all 70 HFCs across 33 U.S. states in an annual conference where these actors can share best practices and make strategic connections.
Mitchell tells Food Tank that throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alliance witnessed HFCs demonstrate leadership and initiative by finding innovative ways to alleviate hunger in their communities. In Texas, The Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty launched Meals-to-You, a pilot program to provide nourishing meals to rural families. And in Florida, the Tampa Bay Network to End Hunger created Meals on Wheels for Kids to alleviate child hunger after schools’ closures.
Members of the Alliance range from private companies including Instacart and Doordash to nonprofit organizations including Feeding America and the Global FoodBanking Network. Members also represent faith-based organizations, universities, foundations, and individuals. “The Alliance is the conduit that allows all our members, regardless of their size or resources, to engage in advocacy and policy,” Mitchell tells Food Tank.
The Alliance works to open doors for members to engage in unique collaborations, hear from diverse perspectives, and increase their aim and impact on Capitol Hill. For example, Islamic Relief USA decided to focus on hunger prevention after joining the Alliance. Today, the organization assists 1.3 million people across the U.S. with issues of hunger and educates over 70,000 individuals in their network about hunger and advocacy.
“There’s strength in our diversity,” Mitchell says. “Breaking down silos helps us achieve a holistic approach to solving hunger.”
Recently, the Alliance partnered with its member, the National WIC Association and launched a nationwide survey to gauge voter support for WIC. The results show that 83 percent of voters—including 75 percent of republicans, 79 percent of independents and 91 percent of democrats—support the WIC program because of its demonstrated positive impact. Mitchell tells Food Tank that the Alliance will use these findings to engage republican and democratic policymakers and increase political support for WIC.
On March 11, the Alliance will send a letter to the White House, asking them to reconvene the Conference on Food, Nutrition, Hunger, and Health. The last conference, held 50 years ago, resulted in some of today’s most critical programs to improve food access and nutrition such as WIC, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the National School Breakfast and Lunch Program.
As world hunger spikes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mitchell tells Food Tank, “Now is the time to hold another conference.” The Alliance is calling on others to show their support. Individuals can take a pledge and organizations can sign onto the letter of support.
The Alliance is also encouraging Congress to grant child nutrition waivers through the 2022-2023 year. Other areas of focus include the Farm Bill and the reauthorization of the Global Food Security Act.
“We know what policies will address hunger and malnutrition, not only here in the U.S. but around the world,” Mitchell tells Food Tank. “It takes political will—political pressure, advocacy, and education—to hold our policymakers accountable.”