New York City Coalition Against Hunger Changes Name to Hunger Free America

01.29.2016

Hunger Free America, National Anti-Hunger Organization, Launches in Houston;

Unveils Web Portal to Boost “High-Impact” Hunger Volunteers;

Top Federal Officials Join in Kick-Off Events 

Group to Conduct Follow Up Community Service Activities in Houston

The New York City Coalition Against Hunger, which now works nationwide, joined with top federal leaders in Houston, Texas on Friday to announce its name change to Hunger Free America, a national non-profit.  The announcement took place in conjunction with a conference the organization held in Houston to train participants in its AmeriCorps VISTA Anti-Hunger and Opportunity Corps Program that provides full-time, year-round community service in 29 states from coast-coast.  Any American who wants to learn how they can donate, volunteer, or advocate to aid Hunger Free America’s efforts can go here: www.HungerFreeAmerica.org

Hunger Free America also announced its new web portal, www.HungerVolunteer.org, to make it easier for people to volunteer across America for high-impact anti-hunger projects. This portal is a state-of-the-art tool to enable Americans anywhere to be more effective, and obtain more personal skills, training, and gratification, when they volunteer to fight hunger.

Hunger Free America will also continue to conduct extensive work in New York, under the division name Hunger Free New York City (www.HungerFreeNYC.org).

Audrey Rowe, Administrator of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (the agency responsible for anti-hunger programs such as SNAP) joined in the announcement and delivered a keynote address to the training conference at the Houston Food Bank on Friday morning.

In 2014, according to USDA, fully 48 million Americans – including 15 million American children – lived in food insecure homes, which couldn’t afford a consistent supply of food. One in six Texas residents (17.2 percent) struggled against hunger in 2014.

Joel Berg, who just transitioned from being executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger to the same role at Hunger Free America, said “Hunger is a nationwide problem, and it needs a nationwide solution.  That’s why we have been ramping up our projects from coast-to-coast – in partnership with top-notch state and local partners – for the last six years, and that is why we are changing our name to Hunger Free America. Our new tag line is “Ending Hunger Lifts Us All,” which denotes that, if we succeed in getting all Americans sufficient access to nutritious food, that will lift the nation both spiritually and economically.”

Hunger Free America also now manages the National Hunger Clearinghouse and National Hunger Hotline on behalf of USDA. If anyone in the U.S. needs food they can call the English version of the hotline at 1-866-3-Hungry or the Spanish version of the hotline at 1-877-3-Hambre to learn where they can access government and private food resources in their local community. 

Audrey Rowe, Administrator of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, said “I applaud Hunger Free America for their innovative efforts to end hunger and promote food security for all Americans. USDA’s nutrition assistance programs provide a safety net that improves food access among those with critical needs, but striking at the root of hunger requires a broader, collaborative strategy. By working with partners like Hunger Free America, we can turn the dream of ending hunger in America into a reality.”

“Strong collaboration and partnerships are what make the fight against hunger possible,” said Brian Greene, Houston Food Bank President/CEO. “We are pleased to host the Hunger Free America Training Conference in our building, and we admire the efforts and initiatives Hunger Free America is making across our nation to help people in need.”

On Saturday, Hunger Free America will join with local partners in Houston to engage its VISTA AmeriCorps national service participants in anti-hunger community service activities citywide.

The press event for this volunteer day of service will be held at the Last Organic Outpost, a community garden located at 711 Emile St. Houston, TX 77020.  The executive director of Hunger Free America, formerly known as the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, Joel Berg will speak at the event alongside the program director of Last Organic Outpost, Adam Gamble. 

Following the press event, volunteers will go to eight different sites to volunteer their time and skills to the Houston community.

If you are interested in attending one of these locations, we strongly encourage you to contact Magen Allen, Communications Coordinator, at mallen@hungerfreeamerica.org or 509-741-9845:

12:00-4:00 PM the Last Organic Outpost 711 Emile St. Houston, TX 77020

Volunteers will aid the urban farm by joining in their efforts to make fresh produce available to high need areas in Houston. Members will plant, weed, water, and engage in other service tasks at the garden. Members, volunteers, and executive director Joel Berg are all available for interview.

9:45 AM-2:00 PM Campus Kitchens (University of Houston)

2821 Canal Street, Houston, TX &

6311 Gulf Fwy, Houston, TX

Volunteers will aid University of Houston Campus Kitchen program in food recovery. With Campus Kitchen, University of Houston students preserve unused food from dining hall facilities and redistribute it to families at New Hope Housing in Houston’s Third Ward. VISTA Members will aid Campus Kitchen team in distributing meals to New Hope residents.

2:00-5:00 PM Beauty Community Garden, 3201 Airline Drive, Houston, Texas 77022

Volunteers will aid the urban farm by joining in their efforts to make fresh produce available to high need areas in Houston. Members will plant, weed, water, and engage in other service tasks at the garden.

9:30 AM-4:00 PM SNAP Outreach at Local Libraries:

-9:30 AM- 12:30 PM: Carnegie Neighborhood Library and Learning Center, 1050 Quitman St.

-10:00 AM-12:00 PM: Johnson Neighborhood Library, 3517 Reed Rd, Houston, TX

-11:00 AM-2:00 PM: Morris Frank Neighborhood Library, 10103 Fondren Rd, Brays Oaks Tower Building, Houston, TX 77096

-2:00-4:00 PM: Smith Neighborhood Library, 3624 Scott Street, Houston, TX 77004

At these libraries and in the surrounding communities volunteers will distribute flyers about SNAP enrollment and prescreening with our local partner organizations in Houston, TX.  Volunteers will engage with community members about SNAP facts and enrollment, as well as distribute information about where they can find assistance about their applications. 

All media must first contact Magen Allen at 509-741-9845 in order to attend a library event.

Quotes from Elected Officials and Anti-Hunger Leaders:

"The work that NYCCAH does to fight against food insecurity is so important to our communities, and I am proud to have partnered with them over the years to help protect vital food benefits and ensure families at risk have access to food," said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. "Hunger Free America will continue NYCCAH's legacy by pushing for innovative, effective ways to end hunger, like the new hunger volunteer website and the hunger hotline. I look forward to working with Hunger Free America to help families in New York and across the country put food on the table."

“Every day across this country, millions of America families struggle to put food on the table. The only way we can change this is by building strong coalitions of national, state, and local leaders to stand up for these families and I know that Hunger Free America will be a powerful part of that work,” Congressman Jim McGovern, co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Hunger Caucus said. “I've had the pleasure of working with NYCCAH over the years and I have no doubt Hunger Free America will continue their passionate work to give a voice to families in need and end  hunger across this county. I look forward to working with Hunger Free America."

"The work Joel Berg and his team at NYCCAH have done, and will continue to do, is some of the most important in this country when it comes to helping people who can't afford enough food. They have proven to be an invaluable partner to my Yum-o! organization. The whole nation will soon know their importance with the transformation to Hunger Free America." - Rachael Ray, Bestselling Author, Daytime Host, and Philanthropist

“A caring and compassionate nation cannot turn a blind eye to the problems of hunger. Fortunately, programs like the NYCCAH exist to help the people who need help the most,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps and other national service and volunteer programs. “For the past five years, we’ve partnered with Hunger Free America to place AmeriCorps members in communities across the nation as part of the Anti-Hunger and Opportunity Corps, work we’re proud to continue with Hunger Free America. Hundreds of Americans have answered this call to serve as a force for good. The passion and drive of these AmeriCorps has never been more critical, because working together, hunger is a problem America can solve.”

Jeremy Everett, Director of the Texas Hunger Initiative, said, "NYCCAH has been a critical partner to Texas to ensure strong public and private coalitions expand access to nutritious food for food insecure Texans.  NYCCAH’s transformation into HFA will be a powerful force for organizations like THI to strengthen community capacity to address the growing national problem of hunger.”

"Maine has benefited tremendously from NYCCAH's ideals and leadership for over five years," says Preble Street Executive Director Mark Swann.  "Hunger Free America is a vital partner in our hunger relief efforts in Maine, which has the third highest rate of hunger in the nation. While we see the toll of inadequate nutrition every day in our work with veterans, children and the elderly, we are also making great strides to improve access to healthful food all across Maine with our Anti-Hunger and Opportunity AmeriCorps/VISTAs. During the summer of 2015, 13 AmeriCorps VISTAs worked with Preble Street Maine Hunger Initiative to support 58 Summer Meals sites serving 59,637 meals to low-income children.  Allied with Hunger Free America, Preble Street Maine Hunger Initiative is determined to wipe out the problem of hidden hunger in a nation that easily has the ability to feed all." 

“To have a stronger, healthier nation, we must make ending hunger a priority,” shared Kathy Underhill, executive director for Hunger Free Colorado. “We look forward to working alongside Hunger Free America and many other partners across the U.S. to ensure all Americans, regardless of their zip code, have access to the fuel needed to thrive.”

Said Gina Cornia, executive Director of Utahns Against Hunger, “For years, we have received highly effective help for hungry people in Utah from the New York City Coalition Against Hunger’s national AmeriCorps VISTA program.  The Coalition always knew that hunger struck the heartland of America just as much as the coasts, and they helped build impactful efforts to combat it everywhere in America.  We are thrilled that they have transitioned into Hunger Free America, and we look forward to partnering with them in the future to take an even bigger bite out of hunger in Utah and from coast-to coast.”

Celia Cole, CEO of Feeding Texas said: "Hunger is a problem that we cannot afford to ignore, but that we can afford to solve. We're excited to partner with Hunger Free America to train our VISTA team members, who will be working at food banks across the state to help hungry Texans improve their health and economic security."

Concluded Hunger Free America director Berg: “The bad news is that the U.S. suffers from the highest level of hunger out of any industrialized Western nation. The good news is that we can end the problem entirely by ramping up public policies and programs of proven effectiveness.  We urge all Americans to join us in this effort.”

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