Chapter 1 – What does ending hunger mean?

The work of food-related charities is based on the knowledge that hunger currently exists in our society, and needs to be addressed now, regardless of the potential (or lack thereof) for a systemic solution to the problem in the future. For our purposes, ending hunger in a given area means this:

“Whenever anyone in the area experiences a time of needing food assistance, they can readily access timely, adequate, appropriate assistance sufficient to see them safely through that time of need.”

It is difficult to predict the exact amount of non-governmental food aid that must be distributed in a given area to achieve our goal, but to make an approximation, use the following formula:

Need = (number of people living at or below the poverty line) x 234 lbs. of food aid per year

So, in an area with 1,000 people living at or below the poverty line, it would take roughly 234,000 lbs. of non-governmental food aid distributed each year to meet the need. The number of people living at or below the poverty line in your area may be found at the U.S. Census Bureau website (

The intimidating size of many of the numbers produced by the above formula may give you some idea of why hunger is such a persistent problem. The good news is that most communities already have the ability to meet the need – if they use their resources efficiently. The next chapter will address the single biggest piece of that puzzle.

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