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Thanksgiving is one of the most food-centric holidays in the United States. Hosts spend an average of $334 to celebrate with family and friends over a meal typically weighing in at more than 3,000 calories. Many also want to help people whose tables are empty. Sadly, there are roughly 821 million undernourished people worldwide.

Hunger is much worse than most Americans realize. According to a new survey, the majority of Americans aren’t aware that half of all child deaths in the world’s poorest countries are attributable to hunger — one every six seconds — or that the hunger crisis has gotten worse in the last year. When presented with these facts, 77% of Americans want to help. In fact, ending hunger is one of the top three causes they are most likely to support.

If you want to support an end to life-threatening hunger, I'd like you to keep a few thinks in mind: 

1. Food or cash?

60% of people polled are more comfortable donating food than money, and they see food donations as more effective. However, donating food is rarely the most efficient way to help those at greatest risk. In the world’s poorest countries, cash is essential to delivering medical treatments for life-threatening hunger and for hunger prevention programs.

2. Consider “alternative” gifts.

As the holiday season starts, one in five people say they give charitable donations instead of physical gifts to friends and family. Nearly 19% say that others have asked them to take this more altruistic approach to giving, with the percentage even higher (24%) among Gen X.

3. Give products with a cause.

47% of people purchase at least one product a month that supports a cause. For example, Action Against Hunger’s Band Together campaign offers a string bracelet that symbolizes a life-saving nutrition diagnostic band used in places where few parents have access to doctors, the internet, or even thermometers and growth charts. Wearing products like these also helps raise awareness of the cause.

4. Get your gift matched.

Giving Tuesday, which follows Thanksgiving weekend, is an international movement to inspire giving alongside Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. More than half of U.S. families give to nonprofits, donating more than $400 million on Giving Tuesday alone. Many employers offer a match. Find out if yours is one of them at Double the Donation.

5. Choose wisely.

Before you give, check with an independent agency like Charity Navigator or make sure the nonprofit is accredited through the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance.

The focus on hunger during the holidays may be a unifying issue in these divided times. Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they would speak with family and friends about global hunger, and there is no better time than Thanksgiving.

By talking about the issue and making it a focus of our giving, we can end deadly hunger in our lifetime. So, this holiday season, let’s band together to ensure every life is well-nourished, since that’s something we can all be thankful for.


Dr. Charles Owubah, CEO of Action Against Hunger, is the CEO of Action Against Hunger, a global humanitarian organization committed to ending world hunger.