By Nathan Magrath
Dozens of leaders and anti-hunger advocates gathered in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 22 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Alliance to End Hunger. In the past decade, the Alliance has become a major leader in the movement to end hunger in the U.S and around the world. It has also developed into a trusted forum, bringing together an array of institutions to tackle hunger in a variety of ways.
The Alliance’s beginnings
In the early 2000s, a group of individuals active within Bread for the World and other prominent anti-hunger organizations gathered to discuss the creation of a new department. The new entity would serve as a platform to bring both secular and faith organizations together in the fight against hunger. Bread for the World’s network contributed many denominations, churches, and countless individuals, and the Alliance brought in corporations, secular nonprofits, universities, foundations, and organizations representing other faith traditions. The sum was an expanded conversation about hunger.
The idea took off. By 2005, the Alliance had grown into a separate organization with its own set of bylaws, strategic plan, and board of directors. While it is officially separate, its office is still housed in the same space as Bread for the World and Bread for the World Institute in an office building in Washington, D.C., near Capitol Hill.
Growing up and out
This year the Alliance marked 10 years of growth and success in its mission to engage diverse institutions in order to build the public and political will to end hunger. The number of members in the Alliance now stands at nearly 100. Its members work on a wide breadth of hunger-related issues from international development and humanitarian services to food packaging and distribution, to education, and even healthcare provision.
As the Alliance has grown, it has forged partnerships and started initiatives that take unique views of and approaches to hunger in the U.S. and around the world.
The Hunger Free Communities Initiative has assisted in mobilizing dozens of communities across the U.S. to develop location-specific plans to eliminate food insecurity. This initiative has also provided a platform to promote the communication and cross-pollination of best practices.
On the international front, the National Alliance Partnership Program has grown from a small grant of $165,000 from the International Fund for Agricultural Development into a $3 million initiative funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. The program connects the Alliance with counterpart coalitions in six countries and assists in building the capacities of our partners. The goal is to help them have a meaningful voice in food/nutrition security and agriculture policy processes in their countries.
Initiatives around advocacy have also developed. The Alliance and its members have met with numerous members of Congress and their staffs concerning international and domestic hunger-related issues and legislation. The Alliance has also led in developing an “Advocacy Playbook” for use by individuals and organizations.
New approaches to hunger
The way of approaching the issue of hunger has also evolved as the Alliance has worked to build diverse partnerships around the topic. A recent example is the Come to the Table Summit series hosted by the Alliance, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and ProMedica, a healthcare organization in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. The Come to the Table movement has raised hunger as a health issue and has brought together elected officials, community leaders, and healthcare executives to discuss what needs to be done to address hunger as a means of lowering healthcare costs and contributing to a healthy, productive country.
Additionally, the Alliance has helped U.S. Muslim groups such as Islamic Relief USA work with Christian and Jewish groups in advocacy for people who are hungry. The Alliance has assisted in launching numerous initiatives, including Universities Fighting World Hunger and Presidents United to Solve Hunger, to bring dozens of universities together to make hunger a priority in research and curricula.
These are just some of the examples of collaboration the Alliance has been part of. The Alliance has also dealt with subjects as diverse as trade, international development, federal nutrition programs, and public-private partnerships.
Visit www.alliancetoendhunger.org to learn more about the Alliance and how to get involved.
Nathan Magrath is the manager of communications and outreach for the Alliance to End Hunger.