National anti-hunger leader Billy Shore just stopped by the Solid Ground offices to meet a few of our own anti-hunger crusaders and share some of his wisdom from 25 years of working to feed America. Shore is founder and executive director of the national organization Share Our Strength, which has partnered with Solid Ground programs for 17 years, including Cooking Matters (formerly Operation Frontline), Food Security for Children and others. Shore is in Seattle for an appearance tonight at Town Hall promoting his new book, The Imaginations of Unreasonable Men, about the quest to defeat malaria.
While hunger continues to grow (Seattle food banks served 75,000 unduplicated families this year, up 10% from the year before, and the third straight year of increases of 10% or higher!), Shore is optimistic: “the issue is not that we do not have solutions to these very difficult problems,” he said, the issue is making the solutions “affordable, sustainable and scalable.”
In addition to creating model programs and funding mechanisms that have been replicated in communities throughout the country, Shore is a vigorous advocate for utilizing the resources available through the federal government.
“I am hopeful by nature,” he said, “but this particular point in our nation’s history tests that a lot. One of the advantages that we have is that we are involved with a lot of programs that work.” While there is plenty of evidence of waste and fraud in government programs, the food programs Shore advocates for “are effective, change people’s lives and return (resources) back to the economy.” Shore specifically mentioned the school Summer Meals and School Breakfast programs, which have received bi-partisan support and funding from the federal government, but which states have not fully exploited. Money remains available to access these programs. “Even if the programs are cut somewhat, we are still far from the ceiling,” Shore said.