Hunger Explained

What Will Solve Hunger?


Ending hunger means people around the world have access to enough nutritious food all year round. It sounds like a daunting goal – if it’s possible, why haven’t we done it yet?

The world has made significant progress toward ending hunger over the past 50 years. The coronavirus pandemic set progress back, but it also exposed the urgent need and brought the hunger crisis to the forefront. Addressing the impacts of the global pandemic and garnering the political will to end hunger are key ingredients to achieve our mission.

4 min read

When enough people speak up, government leaders listen.

Advocacy Works

Churches, charities, food banks, and nonprofit organizations can’t solve hunger alone. Government programs and policies play an especially important role. Thanks to an abundance of resources, federal nutrition programs provide 10 times as much food assistance as private churches and charities combined.

If the government prioritizes food security and directs policies and funding to the right places, our generation will end hunger in our lifetime. But there are thousands of issues demanding leaders’ attention. We need your help to convince government leaders to make ending hunger a priority. 

When enough people speak up, government leaders listen.

Federal domestic nutrition programs such as SNAP, Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC), and the school lunch program make a huge difference. These programs keep millions of Americans from going hungry. The U.S. also plays a critical role in providing humanitarian assistance in response to natural disasters and ongoing worldwide crises, from pandemics to conflicts.

When enough people speak up, government leaders listen.

Ending Hunger Takes More Than Growing Enough Food

The cause of hunger isn’t a shortage of food – it’s access to food, especially nutritious food. Ending hunger for good in the U.S. and around the world means addressing the root causes of hunger, such as  poverty, climate change, conflict, unemployment, racial and gender inequity, and more. Programs for agriculture, health, education, the environment, and democracy are critical for countries struggling with extreme poverty. 

For over 70 years, the U.S. has provided resources, technical expertise, and guidance to several organizations working to combat global food insecurity and malnutrition.

Humanitarian Assistance and Foreign Aid

Development experts agree that the world has the ability to end extreme hunger by 2030. We have already cut it in half since 1990. With continued and increased funding, U.S. foreign assistance can help cut it to zero.

The people of developing nations are proactively leveraging their own agency and resources to end hunger in their homelands. Assistance from the U.S. government helps people help themselves. Most often, the U.S. provides food and agriculture development assistance directly to countries through a specific U.S.-led initiative such as Feed the Future or a legislated program like Food for Peace. Other times, it works through international organizations to deliver, provide, and implement humanitarian aid and related assistance.

Foreign programs fund the tools and training for improved agriculture, build roads to get food to market, empower women, and help governments better educate, care for, and feed their people.

When disaster strikes, hunger often follows. Emergencies such as  natural disasters, disease outbreaks, food shortages, droughts, and conflict have disastrous side effects – from refugee crises to gender-based violence. Emergency situations can quickly go from bad to worse if the global community does not respond quickly enough to prevent starvation, poor health, and extreme poverty.

For decades, the U.S. has led compassionate responses to emergencies across the world. The federal government provides immediate cash and food assistance, health and sanitation items, and supplies to help communities rebuild. It also funds programs such as education, job training, and counseling services to help refugees adjust and find stability in an unfamiliar environment. The U.S. government has long recognized the importance of linking short-term emergency response and long-term development assistance. 

See how Bread advocates for smart, compassionate U.S. food aid to make it more effective and less expensive

For over 70 years, the U.S. has provided resources, technical expertise, and guidance to several organizations working to combat global food insecurity and malnutrition.

Domestic Programs

The most direct way to end hunger is through food-assistance programs. The nation’s largest and most effective anti-hunger program is SNAP. The program gives families and people in need a debit-like card to buy groceries. One in eight people in the U.S. participates in SNAP. Other programs include: 

  • School lunch and breakfast programs provide meals to 21.5 million low-income children so they can focus on learning at school. After school and during the summer months, children can also receive meals through the after-school meals program and the Summer Food Service Program.
  • WIC provides healthy food to low-income pregnant and nursing women and young children. 
  • The Commodity Supplemental Food Program, senior congregate, and senior home-delivered nutrition services provide healthy food to older Americans. 

These programs help millions of families, but giving food is not enough. Progress against hunger requires helping families move out of poverty. Tax credits, like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) help families keep more of their income, which they can use for essential expenses.