Sodexo Foundation

Fifty Million Fellow Citizens Struggling Against Hunger

Fifty Million Fellow Citizens Struggling Against Hunger

When the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its 2009 report on Household Food Security the news that more than 50 million Americans lived in households struggling against hunger went largely unreported by the national media. Perhaps the story seemed numbingly familiar – in 2008 the number of Americans at risk for hunger was 49.1 million. While the statistics remained essentially unchanged from the previous year, the numbers are still distressingly high, particularly with regards to the 17.2 million children living in those households.

The 2009 number of food insecure households is the highest since the USDA started the survey in 1995. The following statistics dive deep into that 50 million figure to present a wide-ranging picture of hunger in the United States.

  • The 50 million Americans at risk for hunger live in 17.4 million household (14.7% of all U.S. households)
  • Of the 50 million people, 17.2 million are children, about 1 in 4 (23.2% of all children)
  • The number of people in the worst-off category (living in “very low food secure” households) – the hungriest Americans – rose from 17.3 million to 17.7 million. The number of people in this category in 2009 is more than double the number in 2000.1
  • Among U.S. states, Arkansas ranked first in food insecurity with 17.7% of households at risk; New Hampshire was lowest, with 8.9% of households considered food insecure.
  • Rates of food insecurity were substantially higher than the national average among households headed by single parents and among Black and Hispanic households.

Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) President Jim Weill attributed the relatively flat food insecurity rate in 2009 to nutrition program improvements.“…The fact that the numbers did not increase dramatically demonstrates just how important the federal nutrition programs were to millions of America. Participation in those programs, especially SNAP, has grown to meet the rising need.” Learn More

Learn More:

Household Food Security in the United States, 2009

FRAC Coverage of Food Security Report

1 Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) press release,

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Application Period for STOP Hunger Scholarships Opens January 1

Educational scholarships come in all shapes and sizes. Athletic prizes reward prowess on the playing field or court. Academic grants honor outstanding scholarly achievement. And for those students whose passion is directed towards the fight against hunger in the United States, the Sodexo Foundation sponsors the STOP Hunger Scholarships. The application period is from January 1 through February 18, 2011. (Learn More)

Now in its 5th year, the STOP Hunger Scholarships recognize and reward students from Kindergarten through graduate school who have demonstrated an on-going commitment to their community through non-paid volunteer work in the fight against hunger. The Sodexo Foundation selects up to five national scholarship recipients. Each national STOP Hunger Scholarship recipient will receive a $5,000 scholarship, as well as a matching $5,000 grant made in their name to the hunger-related charity of their choice in their local community.

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A Diverse Community of Committed Scholars

Our STOP Hunger Scholars are as diverse a group as the organizations they work with.

Cristina Jennings


In 2007, Cristina Jennings, an eighth grader at Atlanta’s Inman Middle School, was recognized for founding the “Joy in a Bag” program that provides assistance to single mothers going from Welfare to work.



Kevin Kacvinsky


Kevin Kacvinsky, then a Junior at Franciscan University in Steubenville, OH, was named a 2008 STOP Hunger Scholar for his weekly efforts to feed and minister to the homeless in and for the 14 mission trips he organized and helped to run.



Amy Carlton

High School Junior Amy Carlton of Lake Oswego, Oregon was acknowledged in 2009 for creating Teens Fighting Hunger, a nonprofit organization that has raised thousands of dollars to feed local children by selling hand-made creative products. Every STOP Hunger Scholar demonstrates this same exemplary spirit of service. With more than 50 million people at risk of hunger in the U.S., including 17 million children, rewarding young people who have made a significant impact in the fight against hunger is one of Sodexo Foundation’s greatest privileges.


Meet One of the 2010 STOP Hunger Scholars, Joshua Williams

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Congress Approves Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act

Congress Approves Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids ActOn December 3, the House of Representatives gave final approval to the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010,” the major federal legislation that funds national school lunch and breakfast programs, summer meals, WIC, and other vital nutrition programs. The House passed the Act by a vote of 264 to 157; the U.S. Senate approved the bill (S.3307) by unanimous consent in August and, on December 13, President Obama signed The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act into law, accompanied by a commitment to work with Congress to fix the SNAP cut included in that Act. Click here to read the full remarks that he and the First Lady made about hunger, obesity and nutrition.

The long-awaited child nutrition bill, which allocates $4.5 billion over 10 years, expands the school lunch program and sets new nutritional standards for school food services, including cafeterias and vending machines. The bill also increases federal reimbursement for school lunches beyond inflation to help cover the cost of higher-quality meals - the first increase in 30 years.

Highlights of the Bill2

  • Expands universal meal service for at-risk children
  • Expands after-school meals for at-risk children
  • Promotes the availability and locations of summer meal and breakfast sites
  • Improves nutritional quality to promote health and address childhood obesity
  • Connects more eligible low-income children with school meals
  • Pilots innovative methods to provide nutrition to low-income children
  • Simplifies program management and improves program integrity

Sodexo was one of many private-sector companies to reach out to members of Congress and to engage its employees in advocating for the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Sodexo Foundation President Stephen J. Brady applauded the bill’s passage, writing to employees, “Working with our government, client and non-profit partners, we look forward to realizing the health and nutrition benefits that this law and funding will bring to our nation's children.”

Learn More:

2 U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry;

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Holiday Gifts for Those "Hungry for Music"

Children at risk have a lot to worry about. Will they eat breakfast today? Can they get a winter coat that fits? Is the class field trip out of reach? With so much focus on the most basic of needs, how does a child with a hunger for music find an outlet for that creativity? If the organization Hungry for Music has its way, every child with the desire to play will receive a gently used instrument to call their own.

Washington, DC-based Hungry for Music is a non-profit organization whose mission is to “Provide the gift of music to underserved children with a hunger to play." What started as a single concert in 1992 to raise funds and collect food for the National Coalition for the Homeless ( grew into a nationwide drive to use “the healing power of music” to help low-income children follow their musical muse. Founder Jeff Campbell says, “We believe that by sharing instruments and musical experiences, children who would not normally have the opportunity can experience a kind of freedom and self-discovery that is often stifled in an atmosphere of economic hardship.”

Hungry for Music’s fundraising strategy is, naturally, creatively musical. From a Van Morrison tribute concert to an annual Crawfish Boil, live concerts take center stage as fundraisers. Music lovers can also select from a large catalogue of CDs. If you’re still searching for an unusual Chanukah or Christmas gift, you might consider these interesting titles: “A Night of 11 Elvises,” “A Chanukah Feast: Volume II,” and “Nolan Ryan: A Musical Tribute,” drawn from Hungry for Music’s “Diamond Cuts” series.

The gift of music is not just for holidays. Hungry for Music is working to ensure that underserved children with willing instructors and a hunger to play can enjoy that gift every day of the year.

Take Action

Donate an Instrument

Browse the CD Collections

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Four Cities' Success Stories in the Fight Against Childhood Hunger

Four Cities' Success Stories in the Fight Against Childhood HungerFor the past several years, the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) and Sodexo have joined forces to research and report on the severity of the problems of hunger and homelessness in U.S. cities. The result of this collaboration is an annual assessment of the progress and setbacks in the fight against hunger in our urban areas.

Last year’s findings showcased successful childhood anti-hunger programs in 24 U.S. cities. This year’s report, “Strategies to Combat Childhood Hunger in Four U.S. Cities,” takes a closer look at initiatives in Boston, New Haven (CT), San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.; successful local programs that have the potential to serve as models for other cities confronting childhood hunger.

Spotlight On New Haven
When most Americans hear “New Haven” they think “Yale.” And while that prestigious Ivy League university is a valued contributor to the community, the city of New Haven is not immune to urban woes. More than 19% of all families live below the poverty level and close to 89% of students qualify for free and reduced-price meals.

The New Haven case study couples the efforts of an innovative school system chef to entice more students to eat nourishing and appealing meals with the efforts of an entire community to coordinate other attacks on childhood hunger and inadequate nutrition.

Highlights of New Haven’s multi-faceted effort to combat childhood hunger include:

In the Schools

  • Elimination of foods with poor nutritional value from vending machines and the cafeteria.
  • Increase in “made from scratch” meals using roasted - not fried - chicken, fresh fruits and vegetables, and kid-friendly sauces.
  • Sourcing of locally grown produce from Connecticut and Massachusetts farms; addition of school-based garden yielding produce grown by students.
  • Expansion of summer food service programs to 43 locations.

Across the Community

Learn More:

Read the Report: Strategies to Combat Childhood Hunger in Four U.S. Cities

Watch the Health Heroes video

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Article Archives

STOP Hunger eZine
The Sodexo Foundation issues an electronic newsletter designed to provide updates on the issue of hunger in the United States and to promote the mission and the work of the Sodexo Foundation. The newsletter offers informative summaries of research and news related to breaking the cycle of poverty in the United States in an effort to make this information more widely known and used.


Vol. 5 Issue 4: STOP Hunger eZine - December 2010
Vol. 5 Issue 3: STOP Hunger eZine - September 2010
Vol. 5 Issue 2: STOP Hunger eZine - June 2010
Vol. 5 Issue 1: STOP Hunger eZine - March 2010

Special Edition: Don't Miss a Scholarship Opportunity
Special Edition: Apply for a scholarship for community service

Vol. 4 Issue 4: STOP Hunger eZine - December 2009
Vol. 4 Issue 3: STOP Hunger eZine - October 2009
Vol. 4 Issue 2: STOP Hunger eZine - July 2009
Vol. 4 Issue 1: STOP Hunger eZine - March 2009

Special Edition: $5,000 scholarships for community service
Special Edition: Apply for a $5,000 scholarship for community service

Vol. 3 Issue 6: STOP Hunger eZine - November 2008
Vol. 3 Issue 5: STOP Hunger eZine - September 2008
Vol. 3 Issue 4: STOP Hunger eZine - July 2008
Vol. 3 Issue 3: STOP Hunger eZine - May 2008
Vol. 3 Issue 2: STOP Hunger eZine - March 2008
Vol. 3 Issue 1: STOP Hunger eZine - January 2008

Vol. 2 Issue 2: STOP Hunger eZine - November 2007
Vol. 2 Issue 1: STOP Hunger eZine - February 2007

Vol. 1 Issue 1: STOP Hunger eZine - November 2006



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