In an effort to boost its visibility and get more people involved in fighting hunger, the nation’s largest network of food banks has changed its name to Feeding America.
As of September 1, the organization jettisoned its mouthful of a former name: America’s Second Harvest – The Nation’s Food Bank Network.
“There was a built-in problem that too many Americans didn’t know what our name meant,” says Ross Fraser, media relations manager for Feeding America. “We saw a need to market ourselves. As hunger continues to grow, we need more food and we need more funds.”
The current “soft launch,” as Fraser describes it, will be followed in November by a public relations and media-driven launch.
The new name tested well, Fraser says, clearly conveying to the public the critical role the organization plays in alleviating hunger in America.
The change also will help differentiate the organization from its more than 200 member food banks, which together feed 25 million people across the U.S. annually.
Created in 1979, Feeding America serves as an “association management office,” collecting and distributing money and food from national donors to its member food banks.
Currently, more than 35 million Americans do not always have access to enough food to stay healthy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says.
And as high food and fuel prices chip away at Americans’ paychecks, the need is increasing, Fraser says.
On average, Feeding America’s member food banks have seen increases in demand of 15 percent to 20 percent, while some have seen demand climb as much as 40 percent.
Some of that increase is due to a new set of people finding themselves hungry.
“The difference is that it’s people like you and me that are now hurting,” Fraser says. “Middle-class married families with kids and two cars in the garage.”
And as the economy continues to contract, things could get worse.
“We need to keep our eye on what’s going to happen with fuel and food prices,” he says. “If they continue to go up, God help us because more and more people will need help.”