In the next few months, I’m going to be interviewing people who are finding creative ways to address hunger in their communities. Their stories will be part of a documentary and book that we’ll launch at the next Hope for the Hungry conference November 8 in Des Moines.

This project starts with an important question: Here in the heartland of the U.S., the richest agricultural area on the planet, how can hunger exist?

But, truthfully, the bigger question is: Why does hunger exist anywhere?

In central Iowa, one of the people asking that question is Diana Sickles, a retired Lutheran pastor who decided a few years ago that it was time to stop talking about hunger and start taking action. She joined the U.N. initiative to alleviate childhood hunger by 2015, and she launched the Hope for the Hungry conferences in Des Moines to bring people together to focus on solutions.

Her passion for feeding hungry kids launched this book and video project.

While we’ll be talking mainly to Iowans, our goal is to document the many solutions that communities can replicate anywhere. We’ll feature organizations like…

  • Table to Table, whose team of volunteers rescues unused food from grocery stores and restaurants and delivers it to local agencies, food pantries and shelters. In 2013, they rescued more than 1.1 million pounds of bread, bakery items, produce, dairy and prepared foods.
  • The Food Corps program, which puts service members (often enthusiastic young people) in schools, where they help kids establish a school garden. They also bring the fresh produce into the school cafeterias and classrooms, cooking with the kids to whip up things like harvest stew and kale chocolate chip cookies (they were a hit!).
  • Community and church gardens like the Faith and Grace garden in West Des Moines, where founder Mark Marshall spends almost every waking hour beyond his full-time job digging in the dirt and helping manage the hundreds of volunteers who now work in the one-acre garden. Mark tells me that, in a town of 10,000 people, a couple of churches and a team of volunteers could raise enough produce to address the hunger issues in their community.

There are lots of issues in this world that need less fear and more love, and hunger is one of the most basic and widespread. If you know of innovative programs or individuals who have an important story to share, please let me know. While this book and video project will focus on the heartland, we want to hear about projects in your part of the country and the world as well.


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