Among the world’s many pressing problems, hunger seems pretty straightforward. We have the food and the resources to feed all 7 billion of us on the planet. So why should anyone go hungry?
In actual practice, of course, the solutions are more complicated. In part, that’s because it’s increasingly clear that hunger is linked to a whole host of dense issues like climate change, social inequity, and international conflict. Among these pressing concerns, climate change is perhaps the most threatening to our food supply. Chaotic climate events disrupt our natural food-growing cycles and render barren entire countries.
The upshot? The most sophisticated organizations dedicated to eradicating hunger are increasingly focused on these wider issues, while also addressing the practical issues of feeding those who are hungry. One such group is FeelGood, a college-focused organization with an interesting, multi-pronged mission.
Launched in 2005 by Kristin Walter, then a university student in Texas, FeelGood began with a simple idea: Sell a few grilled cheese sandwiches and donate the proceeds to hunger-fighting charities. “After the first week, it just clicked,” Walter told the blog Unstuck. “We were doing things that the world needed. We were raising money and having a lot of fun—and simultaneously engaging people in a conversation about hunger.”
Today, the idea has spread to nearly 25 college and university campuses around the country and has raised $1.6 million to curb hunger (while serving more than 183,000 grilled cheese sandwiches).
As a funnel to hunger-fighting organizations, FeelGood has made sustainability and the empowerment of women two key planks in its platform. For Walter and her colleagues, there is a clear and compelling linkage between these issues and the problem of hunger. By supporting women and investing in solutions to our world’s ecological systems, the nonprofit “acknowledges the interconnectedness of our world—and that we cannot improve one part of the world without improving the other.”
The organization also serves as a fascinating model for the future of campus activism. The ideology of the group is just as idealistic as most college groups with a similar agenda. But the altruism is paired with a very down-to-earth and practical methodology. For one thing, involved students are learning practical, social-entrepreneurial skills that can serve them in the future—and that look good on their resumes today.
And unlike sit-ins, protest marches, or other confrontational tactics, the FeelGood approach is one that, well, makes people feel good. And that’s perhaps at the heart of its phenomenal growth. After all, when all is said and done, you can’t argue with a delicious grilled cheese sandwich.
Organic Valley has partnered with FeelGood since 2011 with a focus on hosting “Earth Dinner™ Delis” around Earth Day in order to encourage campus-wide conversation about where our food comes from and how local, sustainably sourced food can be a solution to hunger here at home as well as around the world. Read more about it here. We are proud to support FeelGood in its passionate work and as they cultivate the next generation of leaders.