If you’re lucky enough to have never faced hunger or food insecurity, like 1 in every 8 Americans, it’s certainly difficult to imagine. Many U.S. families battle hunger daily while even more live on the brink, where anything from change in employment to unexpected healthcare costs can plunge them into daunting financial scenarios.
We may live in the wealthiest, most prolific food-producing nation on earth but still, some 41 million people (including 13 million children and five million seniors) struggle with some form of hunger. Blame the ever-increasing income gap or cuts to federal assistance programs but the facts, and our ongoing hunger crisis, remain.
September is Hunger Action Month, a time when Feeding America—one of the nation’s largest nonprofits and a network of over 200 food banks and programs—brings special attention to hunger in America; raising awareness on the issue, launching important partnerships and educating the masses on how they can help.
Many of our favorite food brands have stepped up over the years alongside charities like Feeding America (or on their own), joining in the ongoing battle to feed hungry fellow citizens. In honor and solidarity with Hunger Action Month, we’re tipping our hat to some of our favorite feel-good food brands who’ve committed to help those in need and continue to make good on their promise today.
King Arthur Flour
The 200-year-old flour company has been on a feel good mission for what seems like forever (they even came to my middle school in the ‘90s). It was 1992 when the Bake For Good Kids program officially kicked off, teaching school children to make bread and share it with those less fortunate. The program now reaches over 350,000 school-aged kids and benefits community charity partners in 46 states. In addition to its Bake For Good program, King Arthur Flour has donated more than one million meals through its partnership with Feeding America.
If you’re lucky enough to have a Trader Joe’s in your neighborhood, I sure hope you’re taking advantage of it for those of us who don’t. In addition to your wealth of affordable avocados, cheap wine, and frozen apps, you can also enjoy the warm and fuzzies shopping spree at America’s quirkiest grocer.
TJ’s has been quietly fighting against hunger for years, donating all of its food deemed “unfit for sale” (meaning odd-sized produce or dented cans) to local food banks to the tune of roughly $341 million worth of groceries in 2017. Good stuff!
This Idaho-based potato vodka producer is on a steadfast mission to defeat hunger in America and has been since the jump. For every bottle produced, 20 meals are donated to a hunger relief organization, including Feeding America. Founders Danny Lafuente and Dan Maslow are on pace to donate one million meals later this year and it could be your martini that puts them over the edge.
In addition to being feel good, the sustainably sourced booze is made using eco-friendly practices and is pleasant hitting both the palate and wallet. Clean and smooth, Simple is priced at around $27 a bottle, meaning it could (and probably should) be your new go-to, feel-good vodka.
You may know them for piping hot bread bowls of broccoli cheddar soup but Panera Bread has also been fighting hunger in various ways for more than a quarter century. This work includes extensive partnerships with Feeding America and, in 2009, the brand even began opening Panera Cares Community Cafes around the country, where folks in need could dine in and pay what they’re able.
Deep River Snacks
You know ‘em, you love ‘em. The small-batch, kettle-cooked chip company packs punches into its unique flavors like (my personal favorites) Sweet Maui Onion and Zesty Jalapeno. What you might not know is the Connecticut-based snack brand donates more than 10 percent of all profits to charity, many of which are selected by employees and help in the fight against hunger. So go ahead, have another.
This Minneapolis producer of small-batch meats like frozen turkey burgers and Italian sausages has donated more than one million meals through its Bite Back program. For every package purchased, Mighty Spark will donate a meal and sponsor meal-packing events to help distribute the goods.
The funky fun nut butter brand has partnered with several hunger-relief based organizations like Conscious Alliance and Metro Caring to support organizations that provide vital food necessities to communities. In 2017 alone, Justin’s donated nearly 200,000 units of its protein-packed nut butters to those in need.
Just BARE chicken
It’s become increasingly clear that organic and hormone-free meats are essential to lower the risk of a myriad of health problems, but organic birds can be cost-prohibitive for many. In 2018 Just BARE has already donated more than 80,000 pounds of its USDA organic chicken to community partners and is committed to continuing the fight into next year, and beyond.
Newman’s Own, founded by actor Paul Newman in the 1980s, is known for a diverse line of sassy salsas, dressings, drinks, and pasta sauces but perhaps even more so for being the most charitable food brand…possibly ever.
The Newman’s Own Foundation directs every last penny of profit to charities with a major focus on nutrition. Since 2014 they’ve committed more than $14 million to programs that do amazing things like enable access to fresh food in underserved communities, encourage urban bodega owners to sell healthier foods, and build community gardens.
During Hunger Action Month, whenever folks buy a box of Nature’s Bakery bars, this healthy snack maker will match and donate a meal to someone in need, via Feeding America. Nature’s Bakery has already donated nearly two million meals and is committed to donating one million more. Pretty darn sweet!
It’s clear that the hunger epidemic in America isn’t going anywhere soon and important assistance programs are constantly under attack from budget hawk politicians. Besides buying (and eating) these delicious feel good food brands, there are numerous other ways to get involved directly in the ongoing battle and make a positive impact in the lives of many.
To learn how you can help visit http://www.feedingamerica.org/take-action/.
Header image courtesy of Trader Joe's.