Food & Human Rights

Note: The holiday season means lots of end-of-year solicitations from worthwhile non-profit organizations.  I think I must have received more than 50 solicitations, but have decided to focus on only three, because I know these firsthand.

From their website The Hunger Project (THP) is a global, non-profit, strategic organization committed to the sustainable end of world hunger. In Africa, South Asia and Latin America, THP seeks to end hunger and poverty by empowering people to lead lives of self-reliance, meet their own basic needs and build better futures for their children.

THP and its affiliated Partner Countries have a worldwide staff of more than 300 people. THP’s Global Office is located in New York, NY. THP operates in 11 Program Countries: Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Malawi, Mexico, Mozambique, Senegal and Uganda. THP partners with local organizations in Bolivia and Peru. THP Partner Countries, which fundraise for our programs in the developing world, include: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

This is a photo from The Hunger Project website, showing  partnership with India.

Several years ago, when I co-owned a health food store in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I was introduced to The Hunger Project ( through what was called a “Briefing.” For years I had accumulated information on hunger and didn’t really know what to do with it. After the briefing, I knew. I changed the title of that file to Ending Hunger, took the training to become a volunteer briefing leader, and went to schools and churches and other gatherings to tell people three important concepts:

1. Hunger exists
2. It doesn’t need to
2. Each person can make a difference.

These seem like common sense concepts, but ending hunger requires a huge effort and commitment.  For me, it meant starting my own project which I called Johnny Alfalfa Sprout, named after Johnny Appleseed. I went around teaching sprouting, sending sprouting seeds to Mary Knoll missions in Africa,  and eventually self-published The Johnny Alfalfa Sprout Handbook. (If you want a copy, please go to MY BOOKS for ordering information.)

What I also learned as a volunteer is that millions of men, women, and especially children go to bed hungry. I found that unacceptable and still do, and what I now believe is that having healthy food is a human right, not a privilege. To this end, I am including information on two of my other favorite projects, The Cambodian Children’s Fund and MANNA, an organization where I volunteer. One is far away and the other, right here in Philadelphia.

I found out about The Cambodian Children’s Fund from my stepson’s partner, Ignacio. He works for Sony Pictures and his former boss, Scott, left Sony to start the fund when he saw the abject poverty on a visit to Cambodia. Here is the letter Ignacio sent to me from Scott, which includes a link to a wonderful video. I chose to highlight this organization because it is a perfect example of one person making a difference and I know it is a legitimate organization because  of Ignacio’s personal relationship to Scott.

Dear Ignacio,

With the holiday season upon us and the start of a new year imminent, there’s no better time to reflect on those times in the past year that resonate the most with us; good or bad, the sum total of such moments – and how we choose to react to them – influence our choices for the future.

The sum total of our 2010 is best said by Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

After six years here, the situations and conditions of the children we find, or who find us, are as dire and sad as my first year in Cambodia.

What has changed are the children in our care. From a sense of hopelessness, they enter a new world where their dreams become opportunities and their darkest moments provide them the strength to thrive.

Cambodian Children’s Fund isn’t just about rescuing children and feeding the hungry. We are about raising future leaders, with the innate compassion and the fortitude to make theirs a better generation.

If you truly desire to save the world – and the world truly does need saving – then invest in a child with the need and the potential.

To witness a children’s transition is a gift; a gift that never fades, is never the same and the single greatest reason I remain here.

So this holiday season, I would like to share this gift. Please accept this gift as a token of thanks from all of us here, to all of you who have invested in us:

In gratitude,

The other organization is one that I have focused on before, but want to focus on it again because I am a volunteer and have first-hand knowledge of what MANNA is doing.  Basically, MANNA feeds approximately 1,000 people each week with food we make in the MANNA kitchen.

Each person who qualifies because of nutritional risk receives 21 meals each week, made on the premises of MANNA. The meals are frozen and then delivered once each week to the client with special nutritional needs because of a  life-threatening illness. The clients are too ill to shop, prepare, and cook their meals, so MANNA steps until that person is back on his or her feet and can shop and cook. If there are children and the parent is ill, then meals are also included for the children.

Because I volunteer at MANNA, I see where the money goes and I know that volunteers are an important part of the operation. I think MANNA is an example of a non-profit organization that is doing something about the fact that hunger need not exist, because without MANNA’s help, the clients MANNA serves would go hungry or at best, be eating food that may not be nutritionally sound. There are MANNA type organizations in most cities, but if you want to know more about the one in Philadelphia, go to

Human Rights Day was December 10th, but the fight and commitment for the rights of human beings are ongoing.  If you believe that eating well is a human right, find an organization that you can help. I have chosen only three that I know personally, but there are many more to choose from.  This time of year is when we wish people Happy Holidays and I would add and a Healthy, Nutritious New Year.

4 thoughts on “Food & Human Rights

  1. Thank you for your kind words. Your volunteer activities are also important. We have to make choices, and because I am a food person,I gravitate to food organizations. Happy New Year to you & Jerry. ellensue & alan

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