Secretary Vilsack
The secretary of agriculture in President Barack Obama’s administration, Thomas J. Vilsack, has returned in 2021 to serve in the same position under President Biden. Secretary Vilsack has received recognition for his civil service and efforts to combat global poverty, receiving recognition from the Congressional Hunger Center and the Global Child Nutrition Foundation. He is also “a former member of the board of directors for GenYOUth as well as Feeding America.” At the U.N.’s Food Systems Summit in September 2021, Secretary Vilsack declared that the U.S. would invest $10 billion to ensure global food security over the next five years. Here are five global food security initiatives that Vilsack supports.

5 Global Food Security Initiatives Secretary Vilsack Supports

  1. Feed the Future. Secretary Vilsack supports Feed the Future, the United States’ program to ensure global food security “by boosting inclusive agriculture-led economic growth, resilience and nutrition in countries with great need and opportunity for improvement.” Feed the Future began in 2010 following the 2007-2008 global food crisis. In 2016, Secretary Vilsack supported the Global Food Security Act, a bill ensuring that the efforts of Feed the Future could continue on even after Obama’s end of term. By backing the bill, he expressed his support for sustainable food systems for the world’s impoverished. The Feed the Future program significantly contributes to poverty reduction, reducing poverty by 37% over 10 years in countries like Bangladesh.
  2. McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program. The McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program combats global poverty and hunger through the support of the USDA. As secretary of agriculture, Vilsack oversees this program, which supports education and child development in low-income countries, donates “U.S. agricultural commodities” and provides financial assistance for school feeding and community nutrition programs. Overall, the program aims to increase literacy and education to break the cycle of poverty. By overseeing the McGovern-Dole Program, Secretary Vilsack works to ensure that students in need, especially girls, receive the nutrition and support required to thrive in schools.
  3. Food for Peace. Secretary Vilsack also oversaw Food for Peace in the International Affairs Budget during the Obama administration. The Office for Food and Peace began with President Eisenhower’s Food for Peace Act in 1954. Food for Peace aids people in low-income countries and areas of conflict by providing international emergency services, organizing development activities and providing nutritional support. Its development activities shares tools and resources with people in food-insecure areas to end global hunger.
  4. Food is Never Waste Coalition. Secretary Vilsack announced in 2021 that the U.S. would be partnering with the Food is Never Waste Coalition. The coalition emerged from the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit. The coalition aims “to halve food waste by 2030 and to reduce food losses by at least 25%.” Reducing food waste involves member collaboration to create sustainable food pathways and invest in food loss reduction methods.
  5. School Meals Coalition. While attending the U.N. Food Systems Summit in September 2021, Secretary Vilsack remarked on collaborating with the School Meals Nutrition, Health and Education for Every Child coalition. The coalition strives to provide all children access to nutritious school meals by 2030. In 2021, 150 million students continue to go without school meals worldwide, which sometimes stands as their only meal of the day. The coalition seeks to address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic by providing nutrition within education. As a member state of the coalition, the United States will invest in feeding programs to incentivize education globally.

Reducing Global Poverty and Hunger

Secretary Vilsack maintains his efforts to reduce both poverty and hunger through his work in the USDA. By supporting and overseeing various food security initiatives and aid programs, Secretary Vilsack positively impacts the lives of those in need across the world.

– Dana Gil
Photo: Flickr

Social Activism by Musicians
Music continues to unite people all around the world despite social distance. With cities urging self-isolation, celebrities are stepping up through charity donations and virtual concert performances. Here are several ways social activism by musicians is making a difference.

Online Concert Streaming

Musician friends Lucius and Courtney Barnett, joined together to raise money for Oxfam’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. Their 4-hour live performance streamed via Instagram was packed with new song debuts and famous cover remixes. Accompanied by individual performances from singers like Sheryl Crow and Lukas Nelson, the event raised more than $38,000.

Through his “Living Room Concert for America,” Elton John joined with musicians such as Alicia Keys and Lady Gaga to raise more than $10 million for Feeding America and the First Responders Children’s Foundation. The Lumineers also raised over $600,000 for MusiCares and the Colorado Restaurant Association through their live stream concert on May 8th.

Relief Efforts to Fight COVID-19

Through the Clara Lionel Foundation, Rihanna has given $5 million in grants to organizations such as Direct Relief, the International Rescue Committee and the World Health Organization to help underprivileged communities fight COVID-19. Musician Dierks Bentley has also demonstrated interest in alleviating pain from the vulnerable communities. In 2019, Dierks Bentley performed at a benefit for the Troy Gentry Foundation, which works with families in need. Bentley has also worked with WE Day, Stand Up to Cancer, Amnesty International and the Children’s Miracle Network to raise awareness and provide financial support.

Donations Given to MusiCares

On June 29th, The Weeknd announced a $1,000,000 donation to support relief efforts. The donation will be split in half with $500,000 for MusiCares and the other half for the Scarborough Health Network, which aids front-line healthcare workers.

Dolly Parton, widely recognized for her philanthropic efforts, was named the MusiCares Person of the Year. She founded the Imagination Library in 1995, which gives kids one book per month until they reach kindergarten. To date, more than 100 million books have been provided through her literacy program. In 2016, she put together the Smoky Mountains Rise telethon, which raised more than $13 million to be given to victims of the wildfires in Gatlinburg. Parton continued her strides in 2020, when she gave $1 million to fund research by Vanderbilt University Medical Center on a cure for COVID-19.

Taylor Swift is also known to lend a hand when she can, and in the face of the Coronavirus, she did just that. Swift supported her favorite record shop in Nashville by making a disclosed donation and giving three months of paid health insurance to the staffers. She has also donated to her fans in need and to Feeding America.

Looking Forward

While much still needs to be done in regards to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, social activism by musicians like these is bringing about change by providing relief to organizations and underserved communities. Through music, these musicians are making change by giving hope and comfort to the world in light of the pandemic.

Erica Fealtman
Photo: Flickr

Fighting Poverty
Bettering the world seems like a broad concept to discuss or even think about, and that’s because it is. There are many ways to improve the way people live, whether it’s picking up trash or volunteering at a local food kitchen. The opportunities appear limitless, but narrowing them down is a great place to start the journey. Specifically, fighting poverty can be one goal to set in mind which has plenty of jumping-off points. Below are just a few ideas, organizations and nonprofits anyone can participate in if they want to lend a hand to the greater good.


When imagining charity or volunteer work, the very first thought is often donation. It can be a simple and easy way of fighting poverty. The best part is the donor gets to pick the charity, and thus, the effect they wish to make. For instance, if someone wants to improve access to water in underdeveloped nations, they could donate to The Thirst Project. This nonprofit is an organization that aims to provide water to impoverished nations.

While this is one example of providing aid, there are plenty of other companies with different focuses that could always use the aid. Additionally, the donation doesn’t necessarily have to be monetary; other companies accept food, clothes, toys, household items—anything that might be useful to a family or person in need.

Volunteering Locally

Donating is easy, but volunteering is fun. Volunteer work is available in nearly every part of the globe in some shape or form. As a result, these opportunities can vary depending on the season, location and amount of time one would like to spend. For instance, local foods banks, food pantries, soup kitchens and other meal programs pop up all over the world. They allow the volunteer to get involved directly by providing food to those who can’t afford it otherwise. These projects can provide nourishment in various ways, from full and hot meals to canned goods or groceries.

Volunteers usually find work as laborers within the location, often in the form of food servers. The most popular name associated with food banks is Feeding America, a nationwide nonprofit which is a direct purveyor to these food banks. The company also helps to organize the volunteers by guiding them toward local locations through the Feeding America website. The work is a well-appreciated way of fighting poverty, as one full belly is a step closer to improving an underprivileged life.

Volunteering Globally

While volunteering locally is wonderful, it’s often more rewarding if it’s taken out of the locale and put into the global frame of work. It might require more time and effort, but it can have an even greater impact. By sending volunteers to countries in need, nonprofit organizations improve community development through infrastructure construction, meal programs and health centers. Common names of the industry include UNICEF, the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders—just to name a few. These organizations run on donations and governmental funding, which allows them to have a larger global stance and allows volunteers to have the bigger role of direct involvement and assistance. This is seen with Doctors Without Borders, which sends medical professionals to areas in need.

From a single dollar to a single brick, every ounce of effort helps a cause. While these are just a few ideas to launch a career of good deeds, there are plenty more out there. Searching the internet, local communities and simply listening to the concerns of others can lead anyone to a great opportunity. Anyone and everyone can—and should—take a moment to explore their place in bettering the world and find a way to fight poverty.

– Eleanora Kamerow
Photo: Pixabay

Tyler Perry
Actor and filmmaker Tyler Perry recently spoke in a public service announcement launched by Feeding America and the Ad Council on Feb. 11. This announcement was part of Feeding America’s national Hunger Prevention campaign in partnership with the Ad Council.

According to KCBD, given his membership of the Feeding America Entertainment Council, Perry would like to mobilize the people of America behind the mission to fight child hunger nationally.

Feeding America, established in the late 1960s, has since become the nation’s leading hunger-relief organization, with a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 poverty relief programs that serve around 46 million Americans every year, as stated on the organization’s website.

In an interview with PR Newswire, CEO of Feeding America Diana Aviv expressed her appreciation of Perry’s contribution to the organization. “By providing a strong voice for children who struggle with hunger, he can help inspire more people to engage with their local food banks and make a true difference in the lives of millions in need,” she said.

By participating in the short video titled “Stop Hunger with Tyler Perry | Hunger Prevention” posted on YouTube by the Ad Council, Perry has joined a network of more than 40 other celebrities, including Scarlett Johansson and Matt Damon, in the fight against hunger with Feeding America. This series of video clips addresses how hunger has a negative impact on children’s development, as well as advocates for ways in which the enormous amount of surplus food wasted every year in the U.S. could help alleviate the situation.

As reported by PR Newswire, “all PSAs will run in advertising time and space entirely donated by the media.” The fact that the Hunger Prevention campaign has received more than $373 million as a result of these PSAs portends even more successes for this program in the future.

“15 million children suffer from hunger in the U.S. and through our newly released PSA, we will continue to raise awareness and provide meals to children and families in need across the country,” said Perry.

Hoa Nguyen

Sources: Look to the Stars, PR Newswire, Feeding America
Photo: Melisa Source

Millions of tons of food are wasted every year in developed countries and the United States is one of the worst offenders, with more than 40 percent of the food supply ending up in dumpsters and landfills rather than on people’s plates. Sadly, the problem has only been getting worse. In 2012, the United Nations was responsible for 35 million tons of wasted food, representing a 20 percent increase from 2000. In 1980, food accounted for 10 percent of U.S. total waste, but today, it accounts for over 20 percent, with Americans wasting more food than plastic, paper, metal or glass.

The issue of food waste is worse in developed countries, where many see food as expendable. But even in wealthy countries, people struggle with hunger. Over 805 million people worldwide suffer from food insecurity, yet enough food is produced to feed everyone on the planet. Furthermore, wasting food is both economically and environmentally unsustainable. Efforts that provide food that could have been wasted to those who truly need it are becoming increasingly important.

Feeding America is making a concentrated effort to eliminate food waste in the United Nations. They are the largest domestic hunger-relief organization in the United States, with a nationwide network of 200 food banks. Feeding America provides over 3.3 billion meals to 46 million people a year through its 600,000 food pantries and meal programs. Their latest initiative, Online Marketplace, is specifically intended to prevent food waste.

Launched in Feb. 2014, Online Marketplace utilizes technology to safely, quickly and effectively recover excess food from local food service outlets. By doing so, Feeding America hopes to reduce food waste while simultaneously providing more meals to people in need. It is primarily geared towards businesses like restaurants or bakeries, which handle perishable food in smaller quantities, therefore producing lots of waste while donating very little.

Online Marketplace directly connects potential donors to meal service programs and food pantries. First, new donors are educated on donation protocols, such as food safety guidelines and standard operating procedures. Next, they are connected with their nearest food bank, which directs them to local food pantries and meal programs to which they can directly donate. Distributors can then pick up food from the donor and transport it to local people in need as soon as possible, sometimes even making deliveries on the same day.

Currently, Online Marketplace is projected to recover 740 million more meals per year for people in need. Feeding America recently received a $1.6 million Google Global Impact Award for using technology to fight hunger. This money will allow the program to expand and feed even more people.

The Online Marketplace program could easily become a model for other developed countries to follow. If such programs catch on, redirecting food waste from the landfill to the dinner table could benefit millions worldwide. Educating those in the food service industry about food waste and simplifying their donation process will encourage more people to get involved in the ongoing battle against world hunger.

Jane Harkness

Sources: Feeding America 1, Feeding America 2, Feeding America 3, New York Times, Washington Post
Photo: City Fruit

Feeding America
As part of a series by the organization Feeding America, “Say No to Summer Hunger” is teaming up with local food banks to serve much-needed summer meals to kids facing hunger.

In an event that was in partnership with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, Jennie Garth famous from the television show 90210 and actress Samantha Harris served free and nutritious lunches to dozens of kids and teens.

The event was located in a library is located in Los Angeles County, where the number of children living in food-insecure households ranks highest in the nation, with 591,000 children who may not know where they will find their next meal.

“Child hunger exists in communities all across America,” said Garth. “There should be no reason that a child in this country is allowed to go hungry.”

Nationally, upwards of 22 million children rely on free or reduced-priced meals to nourish them during the school year. However, during the summer months, only 2.7 million children have access to free or reduced-price meals through summer feeding programs. This creates a huge deficit in the amount of nutrition these children are receiving during a crucial period of their development.

As Samantha Harris said during the event, “Summer should be spent outside playing with friends, not worrying where or if you will eat lunch that day. Kids need energy, and food is fuel!”

This is why organizations like Feeding America exist: to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network. Having celebrity members spread awareness by using their name, real change can be made, along with hopefully inspiring a call to action from other members of the community.

Feeding America’s “Say No to Summer Hunger” has and will hold events across the country for the duration of the summer months.

Alysha Biemolt

Sources: Look to the Stars, Feeding America, Think Progress
Photo: Look to the Stars

donate to for hunger
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has estimated that around 870 million people of the 7.1 billion people in the world –  that is, one in eight – were suffering from undernourishment between 2010 and 2012. Almost all the hungry people, 852 million to be exact, live in developing countries.

There are 16 million people undernourished in developed countries. Thankfully the number of undernourished people has decreased almost 30 percent in Asia and the Pacific, from 739 million to 563 million.

The decline in hungry people could be accredited to charities that make it their mission to end world hunger. One charity helping alleviate hunger for example treated 42,000 severely malnourished children in Democratic Republic of Congo in 2012. This charity is called Action Against Hunger.

Action Against Hunger has 30 years of expertise in specific areas like conflict, natural disaster and chronic food insecurity. It runs life-saving programs in over 40 countries benefiting seven million people each year.

In America, the number one charity to donate to for hunger is Feeding America. Formerly known as America’s Second Harvest, it provides food assistance to more than 25 million low-income people facing hunger in the United States, including more than nine million children and almost three million seniors. Feeding America services all 50 states with more than 200 food banks.

While considering which charity to donate to, a third charity to consider is the Bread for the World Institute. The Institute is a lot like The Borgen Project in that it aims to educate its advocacy network, opinion leaders, policy makers and the public about hunger in the United States and abroad. One of the primary goals of the Institute is to end hunger in the United States by 2030.

Thanks to donations and hardworking volunteers, world hunger has been cut in half; however, hunger still kills more people every year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. For example, Asia currently has the most people on its continent that are hungry, making up about two thirds of the area. In order to stay on track and end hunger by 2030, donations are imperative and any of the charities listed above are rapidly working to make sure the money donated is used in the most efficient way.

– Brooke Smith

Sources:, Bread for the World Institute, Action Against the World, WFP
Photo: flickr