Closing the Hunger Gap is a network of organizations and individuals working to expand hunger relief efforts beyond food distribution towards strategies that promote social justice and address the root causes of hunger. Closing the Hunger Gap includes:
- Members from more than 25 states across the US, including individuals with lived experience, non-profit organizations focused on anti-hunger, poverty, social justice or equity efforts, grassroots or community-based organizations, funders, faith-based organizations, and academic institutions. All members are committed to understanding the root causes and systems-oriented solutions to poverty and hunger, and endorse the shared CTHG vision, purpose and statements of values.
- A Leadership Team which coordinates the CTHG network, engages members, and works to keep CTHG’s actions aligned with its values.
- Strategic Working Groups focused on narrative change, regional organizing, collaborative allyship, and conference planning.
- Communities of Practice that hold space for individuals to engage in conversations on racial equity, client engagement, and narrative change.
- Regional Gatherings to connect members in building shared analyses, offering mutual support on regionally-specific issues, and informing Closing the Hunger Gap’s priorities.
We envision a time when all people can determine their own futures; when nutritious food is recognized as a human right; and when there is a political will to end hunger and its root causes. We envision ourselves as part of a growing, national network of collaborators and learners that engage with and support movements led by the people most impacted by hunger and poverty.
- Build and support a grassroots effort of hunger relief organizations to shift from a charity model to a social justice model.
- Build a national presence to promote a collective voice of organizations and their constituents calling for food to be recognized as a human right.
- Support grassroots movements led by the people most impacted by the root causes of poverty and hunger.
Statements of Values
- We are committed to equity and social justice and seek to shift the imbalance of access to resources and opportunities.
- We believe that food is the foundation of relationships, community and culture and that it is essential to the health (physical, spiritual, emotional and mental well-being) of people and the environment.
- We recognize that poverty is not an individual’s failing, but rather a systemic failing of our society and that changes to the system are need to move beyond band-aid fixes to empower individuals and communities to remove barriers.
- We strive to better understand and find appropriate solutions to address the root causes of hunger and poverty.
- We embrace a network and culture that is led by and listens to the people most impacted by injustice, hunger and poverty (justice centered).
- We strive to nurture a community that builds collective power and shared learning.
- We recognize food as a human right, and we will champion this right within communities.
- We believe in honesty and transparency and will act to hold our leadership and each other accountable for honoring our vision and values. We recognize where we are coming from, how we currently operate and are committed to learning, evolving and transforming.
- We seek to create a space that supports members in recognizing and facing uncomfortable truths in undertaking this work.
Driven by ongoing conversations between leading innovative food access organizations in the movement to address hunger at its root causes, the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona hosted the first ever Closing the Hunger Gap (CTHG) conference in September 2013 in Tucson, Arizona.
Over 300 people attended from 170 different organizations, including emergency food providers, human service agencies, school districts, health organizations, grassroots organizations, advocacy groups, academics, and food businesses. The process of bringing this event together was equally as important as the event itself. Many of these initial conversations led to ideas for educational sessions at the conference, which featured expert panels as well as invited participants to share their expertise. The process also led to representatives from 10 leading food banks and ally organizations forming a national Leadership Team, in order to steer an inclusive process which included hundreds of conversations with food bankers in a wide variety of roles all over the United States.
After the 2013 Conference, the Leadership Team continued to develop the network’s vision, goals, and strategic priorities, while maintaining a commitment to bringing this emerging network together on a biennial basis. In 2015, the Oregon Food Bank stepped up to host the CTHG conference, followed by Northwest Harvest of Tacoma in 2017, and the Food Bank of South and Central North Carolina in 2019. Each conference has served as a space for attendees to share skills and ideas, discuss innovative programs, network with their peers and examine their work with a critical lens.
Over time, Closing the Hunger Gap’s work has grown to include resource-sharing and network-building outside of the conferences through webinars, regional organizing, and communities of practice. As Closing the Hunger Gap continues to grow, we look forward to expanding our network and working collectively to address the root causes of hunger.