Founded in 1975 by the late musician Harry Chapin and current Executive Director Bill Ayres, WhyHunger
is a grassroots support organization that works with more than 8,000 community-based groups across the country and around
the world to fight hunger and poverty. What began as a simple commitment between two friends to make a difference has
grown into an award-winning global non-profit, leading the movement to end hunger and poverty and creating a justice
and sustainable food system. From humble beginnings, WhyHunger remains committed to the belief that everyone deserves
access to nutritious, affordable food and that together we can truly make a difference.
A letter from Bill Ayres
In September 1973, musician Harry Chapin was a guest on my ABC radio network show 'On This Rock'. On air, we shared
our sadness and anger at the rampant hunger and poverty so prevalent around the world and in our own backyards. After
the show Harry invited me to his house for dinner, during which I suggested that we put together a concert to benefit
the millions of people who were starving in Africa at that time. Harry's response: "I'm no George Harrison, but let's
give it a try." We began organizing a large scale concert with the United Nations, but never got it off the ground. What
we learned was a very valuable lesson. Even if we had succeeded and raised a million dollars with the concert and then
raised a million each night for a year it would still have been only a drop in the bucket. We realized that, to truly
affect change, we needed a lifelong commitment to ending hunger starting right here in the USA. We needed to support
local solutions to this global problem. We needed to look at the root causes of hunger. And we needed to find a way to
help people to break out of the cycle of poverty. That, in a nutshell, is how we founded WhyHunger (formerly World
Hunger Year) in 1975.
Just as the organization was picking up speed, Harry died in a tragic auto accident in 1981. Most people thought
WhyHunger would die with him but his family, friends, fans and the music community made sure that did not happen. WhyHunger
has continued the tradition that we started by staying focused on several fundamental principles: working together to combat the root causes of hunger, poverty and injustice, supporting grassroots solutions and promoting self-reliance.
Today, we work with 8,400 community-based organizations that have innovative programs, which go beyond giving people
emergency food. These organizations help people to help themselves through food production, job-training programs,
nutrition education, community economic development, healthcare, youth programming, leadership development and more.
These are wonderful programs run by hard-working, caring people. Every day they create miracles in the lives of thousands
of people all over the world. The problem is they are almost all underfunded and understaffed. WhyHunger helps these
folks to build their capacity to sustain their programs and services through technical assistance and by connecting
them with each other to share best practices. We also raise money for these organizations from performers, foundations,
the government, businesses and individual people with generous hearts as a part of our Artists Against Hunger and Poverty
Program, the Grassroots Action Network and the National Hunger Clearinghouse programs. And we provide them with vital
information on hunger and poverty and connections with the media and government as well as national, state, and
Every day we respond to the emergency food needs of poor and hungry Americans through our National Hunger Hotline
1-866-3HUNGRY. Each month we serve hundreds of our fellow citizens from all across America who are hungry connecting
individuals in need to emergency food in their own communities through our extensive network of community-based o
rganizations. We also connect people to government feeding and poverty programs including SNAP, (Supplemental Nutrition
Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps), WIC (Woman, Infants and Children Supplemental Food Program), Summer
Feeding, School Breakfast and Lunch, and Earned Income Tax credit.
We tell the story of hunger and poverty. Each Thanksgiving we broadcast our Hungerthon on radio stations across the
country reaching millions of people with information about hunger and poverty along with ways to take action. Through
our Global Movements Program, we work with US and international social movements and civil society organizations, linking
link WhyHunger's domestic work on hunger and poverty to global movements for food sovereignty and the basic rights to food,
land, water and sustainable livelihoods.
During our long history, we have also created some remarkable organizations. The New York Hunger Hotline, which we
founded in 1978 has helped more than a million people to receive emergency food and has been a catalyst in the creation
of hundreds of food pantries and soup kitchens in New York City. Long Island Cares, which WhyHunger started in 1982, was
one of the first suburban food banks and has distributed millions of pounds of food to the people of Long Island. The
Center for Food Action in New Jersey, which WhyHunger founded in 1978, coordinates food policy for the whole state of New
Jersey as well as emergency food distribution that helps hundreds of thousands of hungry people each year.
If you would like to know more about WhyHunger, explore our website or call us at (800) 5-HUNGRY. We appreciate
your interest and any tax-deductible donation you might make.
Executive Director and Co-Founder
WhyHunger's Accomplishments 2012
WhyHunger's Accomplishments Through the Years