The World Food Prize was awarded in Des Moines, Iowa, this week to Modadugu Gupta, a researcher whose work in aquaculture has helped feed millions of hungry and poor in Southeast Asia, Africa and his native India. Gupta was the sixth Indian and 24th winner overall of the prize, which honors those who have worked to end world hunger.
Ending hunger is not just an issue for the developing world. The problem of domestic hunger is a concern shared by some of the people who earn their living producing the food that most Americans take for granted. And their efforts to help the less fortunate are growing. Laurel Bower Burgmaier explains.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 11 percent of Americans are hungry or at risk of hunger. Often, they find themselves choosing between buying food and paying for things like utilities, rent, or medical needs.
Susan Pearson, Idaho farmer: "We have an abundance of food in this country, and it's a shame that there are people who are going hungry when we have that abundance."
To change this, thousands of farmers across the country are coming together to get food to those in need.
Adam Gibson, Iowa farmer: "It's a wide array of talented people from across the U.S. that are growing several different kinds of products from peanuts to corn, to cattle to organic, but everybody has that same goal of feeding the hungry."
In a partnership called "Harvest for All", the American Farm Bureau Federation is working with America's Second Harvest to help feed the approximately 36 million Americans who face hunger.
Dan Durheim, American Farm Bureau Federation: "We sat down as a study committee and decided that we were going to look at this project and figure out how we could team America's first harvesters, our Young Farmers & Ranchers, with America's Second Harvest to create a hunger-free America."
Founded in 1979, America's Second Harvest is the nation's largest domestic hunger-relief organization. How does the flow of food work? First, partnerships are established with potential food donors. Next, the donated food and grocery products are moved to where they are needed most. Then, the network food banks and food-rescue organizations ensure safe storage and distribute the donated goods to local service agencies. Finally, the donations are given to people in need at food pantries, soup kitchens, and kids' cafes --to name a few.
Dan Durheim, Harvest for All: "I think the uniqueness of the Harvest for All project is it's not a set piece. You get to go in and make a relationship with your community group whether it's the local food pantry, or it's the Second Harvest affiliate, or whatever it might be...It's an endless opportunity of things that we encourage them to do."
Today, the America's Second Harvest network distributes nearly two billion pounds of food and grocery products to nearly 23 million hungry Americans each year.
Steve Anderegg, Iowa farmer: "The really special thing is we grow the food and we want to know where it goes and we want to know that the American public is fed and that they don't go hungry at night and that there isn't a crying child out there. American farmers and ranchers really care."
Late last year, these farmers took time out of their busy schedules to volunteer for the "Harvest for All" cause. They spent a day filling boxes with food for underprivileged senior citizens in the Kansas City area.
Dale & Lisa Koester (KE-ster), Indiana farmers: "We feel as farmers, it's so important to be involved. We're the ones that are supplying the food to our nation and we're proud that we're able to do it. We really are the first harvest, where we harvest the food. It's nice to see that come to fruition, or come full circle, and be able to help those that are hungry so they can come to the table as well."
America's Second Harvest depends on the support of corporations and charitable foundations. It also relies heavily on the help of individuals.
David Colier, North Carolina farmer: "The 'Harvest for All' is a great opportunity for us as farmers to take what we produce every day and put it on hungry families' tables. It's a great opportunity for the Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee to get together and help those families in need."
Approximately 80 percent of all food banks in the country are part of the America's Second Harvest network. The "Harvest for All" campaign is just one example. Last year, the farm and ranch families involved in this effort raised $121,308 and donated 2,465,445 pounds of food to hungry Americans.
Dan Durheim, Harvest for All: "I think it's awe-inspiring when you think about someone who is as busy as a young farmer and rancher, also on as tight of a budget as a young farmer and rancher, that truly cares about their communities and they give from their pocketbooks, their time to make sure that their neighbors and friends are fed."
Whether the contribution is a bushel, a dollar, or an hour, farmers, along with America's Second Harvest and the American Farm Bureau Federation, are helping make sure every person can enjoy their produce.
Adam Gibson, Iowa farmer: "We raise the food, we grow the food and it's nice to see where the end product goes. You always hear stories about America's needy, so it's nice to be able to help feed the hungry because that's what we're all about. Farmers are feeding the world."
For Market to Market, I'm Laurel Bower Burgmaier.