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Resource Spotlight: The National Hunger Hotline (1-866-348-6479)

The Hunger Hotline

Use it to: Locate nearby organizations that need food donations; find local sources of food for people in need

WhyHunger, a nonprofit organization dedicated to stopping hunger in the U.S., inaugurated the National Hunger Hotline in 1995.  The program helps people who can’t feed themselves or their families connect to emergency sources of food, including pantries and soup kitchens, as well as federal nutrition programs.

Besides helping the hungry, the hotline is a one-stop information bank for people who want to make food donations. In addition, the hotline also fields calls from people who are interested in starting or are currently running emergency food programs, often out of a religious institution. WhyHunger can match the caller with a source of food in the region—such as a farmer or community-supported agriculture (CSA) program—and consult on how best to provide services.

The hotline handles around 700 calls a month, with a big uptick after natural disasters, and plugs callers into a  9,000-strong nationwide network of community-based organizations. According to Bill Ayres, executive director and co-founder of WhyHunger, the hotline has helped more than 75,000 people find assistance since its inception, from single mothers looking for breakfast for their kids to working families who are struggling to put food on their table but aren’t eligible for the SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) program.

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