From the White House: Giving Thanks and Giving Back

Yesterday, President Obama, accompanied by the First Daughters, Sasha and Malia, pardoned “Abe” and “Honest”, the National Thanksgiving Turkeys:


This year’s lucky turkey was “Abe,” an 18-week-old, 40-pound turkey raised in California’s Central Valley under the supervision of the National Turkey Federation.

“Abe is now a free bird. He’s TOTUS -– the Turkey of the United States,” Obama said.

“If for some reason Abe can’t fulfill his duties to walk around and gobble all day, Honest is in an undisclosed location ready to serve in the TOTUS line of succession,” he continued.

But another thing the First Family did was remind us that today people are hungry and that food insecurity is real.

Today at Feeding America, your dollars towards feeding the hungry will buy twice as many meals:

$1 buys 11 meals but today it will buy 22 thanks to a gift from Ameriprise Financial.

From Hunger in America

The Feeding America network is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. The nationwide network of food banks provides more than 3.6 billion meals to virtually every community in the United States through food pantries and meal programs.

Why Feeding America?

At Feeding America, 98% of all donations raised go directly into programs and services for people in need. Thanks to your support, the Feeding America nationwide network of food banks, pantries and meal programs serves virtually every community in the United States – more than 46 million people including 12 million children and 7 million seniors.

The Feeding America network provides over 3.7 billion meals to 1 in 7 Americans in need of healthy foods to help them live more secure and stable lives.

Feeding America History

For 35 years, Feeding America has responded to the hunger crisis in America by providing food to people in need through a nationwide network of food banks.

The concept of food banking was developed by John van Hengel in Phoenix, AZ in the late 1960s. Van Hengel, a retired businessman, had been volunteering at a soup kitchen trying to find food to serve the hungry. One day, he met a desperate mother who regularly rummaged through grocery store garbage bins to find food for her children. She suggested that there should be a place where, instead of being thrown out, discarded food could be stored for people to pick up—similar to the way “banks” store money for future use. With that, an industry was born.

Van Hengel established St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix, AZ as the nation’s first food bank. In its initial year, van Hengel and his team of volunteers distributed 275,000 pounds of food to people in need. Word of the food bank’s success quickly spread, and states began to take note. By 1977, food banks had been established in 18 cities across the country.

As the number of food banks began to increase, van Hengel created a national organization for food banks and in 1979 he established Second Harvest, which was later called America’s Second Harvest the Nation’s Food Bank Network. In 2008, the network changed its name to Feeding America to better reflect the mission of the organization.

Today, Feeding America is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization—a powerful and efficient network of 200 food banks across the country. As food insecurity rates hold steady at the highest levels ever, the Feeding America network of food banks has risen to meet the need. We feed 46 million people at risk of hunger, including 12 million children and 7 million seniors. Learn more about how we get food to people in need in our “How We Work” section. Support Feeding America and help solve hunger. Donate. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate.



  1. The president spoke yesterday to reassure Americans that his national security team is being vigilant:

    From Transcript: Remarks by the President After Meeting with National Security Team

    Now right now, we know of no specific and credible intelligence indicating a plot on the homeland. And that is based on the latest information I just received in the Situation Room. It is similar to the information that I — the briefing that I received on Saturday before I left on my trip last week.

    So as Americans travel this weekend to be with their loved ones, I want them to know that our counterterrorism, intelligence, homeland security and law enforcement professionals at every level are working overtime. They are continually monitoring threats at home and abroad, continually evaluating our security posture. They’re constantly working to protect all of us.

    Their work has prevented attacks. Their efforts have saved lives. They serve every hour of every day for the sake of our security. They did so before Paris, and they do so now -– without fanfare or credit, and without a break for the holidays.

    So the bottom line is this: I want the American people to know, entering the holidays, that the combined resources of our military, our intelligence, and our homeland security agencies are on the case. They’re vigilant, relentless and effective. In the event of a specific, credible threat, the public will be informed. We do think it’s useful for people, as they’re going about their business, to be vigilant. If you see something suspicious, say something. That’s always helpful. But otherwise, Americans should go about their usual Thanksgiving weekend activities — spending time with family and friends, and celebrating our blessings.

    And while the threat of terrorism is a troubling reality of our age, we are both equipped to prevent attacks, and we are resilient in the face of those who would try to do us harm. And that’s something we can all be thankful for.

    Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.

  2. Food insecurity in America: A grim holiday season awaits America’s hungry

    For households that struggle with food insecurity, November often marks the beginning of the particularly lean months. Cooler evenings mean bigger heating bills, putting more stress on grocery budgets. And school vacations mean children stay home, without access to the free or reduced-price school meals that help keep many households afloat.

    When those households run out of money and food stamp benefits, many turn to food pantries and soup kitchens. At this time of year, emergency food assistance charities — often referred to as “the last line of defense against hunger” by the people who manage them — see a sharp spike in the number of meals they distribute per month.

    After two years of “extraordinary needs”, there is no sign that things are getting better:

    River Fund has struggled despite its connection to the largest and most heavily resourced food bank in the United States, Food Bank For New York City. That system, with more than 1,000 pantries and other emergency food access points, has access to the kind of extensive donor network only New York City can offer. In 2013 alone, it pulled in more than $80 million in revenue, according to financial disclosure forms. Yet despite the prodigious annual haul, even Food Bank For New York City can’t keep up with skyrocketing need.

    Nearly half of the food bank’s member agencies ran out of adequate food at some point in September, according to its annual membership survey, released Monday. Last September, 60 percent of its member agencies reported similar shortages.

    While the economy has improved, the funding for those in need has been cut drastically:

    Food insecurity shot up sharply during the Great Recession, from 11.1 percent in 2007 to 14.6 percent in 2008. It has only declined marginally since then, but the federal government and many states have begun a long retreat from their crisis footing — leaving many pantries alone on the front lines.

    Food stamp benefits received an emergency cash infusion from the federal government’s 2009 stimulus act, but are now gradually returning to pre-recession levels. The drawdown began with a precipitous $5 billion across-the-board cut in November 2013, which reduced the benefit levels for every food stamp recipient overnight. At the same time, many states have begun to reinstate food stamp work requirements that they had temporarily waived in response to recession-era mass unemployment.

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