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A History of Helping: The Feeding America Story

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A History of Helping: The Feeding America Story

In a country with so much food waste, it may sound surprising that 1 in 8 people in the United States struggle with hunger. Feeding America is leading the fight as the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. By working with farmers, manufacturers, retailers, and people like you and me, Feeding America provides food and groceries to more than 46 million people nationwide and rescues more than 2.8 billion pounds of food that would otherwise have gone to waste. Crazy right? But they didn’t start out this huge.


Thirty-five years ago a retired businessman from Phoenix, Arizona, John Van Hengel, noticed the unnecessary amount of food that was going to waste by grocery stores and restaurants. He proposed that instead of throwing that food away, it should be stored and given to people in need. With that, Feeding America says “an industry was born.” That year, Van Hengel started St. Mary’s Food Bank and went on to distribute 275,000 pounds of food to people in need. Other cities became interested in this concept when they heard of Van Hengel’s success, and by 1977 the trend had spread to 18 other communities across the country.


donatemyplate.pngAs food banks began to pop up all across the nation, John Van Hengel created an organization to tie them all together. Fast forward to 2017 and Feeding America is now a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs that have helped serve over 4 billion meals in a single year.


How can you join the fight against hunger and make an impact today you ask? Well, it can be as simple as snapping a photo of your meal and sharing it on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #DonateMyPlate. For every hashtag, we’ll donate a meal* to someone in need. If you’re a true Instagram foodie, don’t feel limited in your foodstagrams. We want to see you hashtag them all, so we can donate even more to Feeding America!


If your Insta-game isn’t that strong, you can also donate at


How do you give back to your community? We’d love to hear your stories in the replies below


*$1 helps provide 11 meals secured by Feeding America® on behalf of local member food banks. Virgin Mobile has committed to contribute a minimum of 1,650,000 meals (monetary equivalent of $150,000), with a maximum of 2,750,000 meals (monetary equivalent of $250,000) to Feeding America® and member food banks from June 20, 2017 – March 31, 2018.