Feeding America History

In Phoenix, Arizona, in the latter part of the 1960s a retired businessman, John van Hengel started volunteering in a local soup kitchen and started to ask local businesses and individuals for donations to the kitchen. One day he was speaking to someone who came to eat at the soup kitchen who said she fed her family by collecting discarded food from the garbage bins of a grocery store. She told him how good the quality of food was but that there needed to be a place to store it for later use, much like a bank would store money.

He started to ask the grocery stores for their unwanted food as well as the local produce farms and local gardens. Through his efforts the St. Mary's Food Bank was created in Phoenix, which became the first food bank in the nation.

St. Mary's received a federal grant in 1975 to help develop more food banks throughout the country. America's Second Harvest and Foodchain merged in 2001. At that time Foodchain was the largest organization in the country dedicated to food-rescue.

The organization was featured in May 2007 on "American Idol" as a charity in the Idol charity program named "Idol Gives Back". At the end of August 2008 the company's name was changed to its current name, Feeding America.

The name better conveys the organization's mission - providing the hungry citizens of America the food they need. The name also helps to raise the awareness of the problem of domestic hunger in America.

Columbia Records, in August 2009, announced that the entire U.S. royalties for the Christmas in the Heart album by Bob Dylan would be donated to the organization in perpetuity. Feeding America continues to strive to better its service to the hungry and informing the public of the problem of hunger in the United States.


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