Billy Shore knows a good investment when he sees it. Working with his sister, Deirdre, he turned a 2-thousand dollar credit card advance into $360-million dollars of spending money. And 30 years later, that initial investment is still paying big dividends. So, what did they invest in? Food -- not to feed their bank accounts but to feed the hungry.
Responding to the famine in Ethiopia, Billy and his sister took their cash and founded Share Our Strength. The Idea was to engage the strengths of all people in the global fight against hunger and poverty.
“Our strength began in the basement of a row house on Capital Hill in 1984,” says Billy. Over the years, Share Our Strength applied a unique approach to grow its revenue, mainly through corporate partnerships and cause-related marketing.
“We wanted to be a non-profit that was actually creating wealth; not just fighting for our share of the charitable pie, but making that pie grow.”
Then, in 2010, Billy’s focus shifted to America, where a shocking number of children go to bed hungry every night.
“We have such enormous need, and such enormous levels of poverty at a time when our economy is struggling and our political system has been paralyzed and, to some degree, broken.”
Building on the success of Share Our Strength, Billy expanded his vision, kicking off The No Kid Hungry campaign.
Today, one in five kids in the U.S. struggles with hunger.
“22.5 percent of American children are living below the poverty line,” says Billy. “46 million Americans are on food stamps for the first time in the history of the program, half of them being children.”
No Kid Hungry is working to eradicate hunger by connecting families with the resources they need to provide their children with enough nutritious food, every day, to thrive.
“We see a future where kids have access to the healthy food they need, every day. Kids will get a healthy breakfast every day at school so they’re ready to learn, and they won’t have to worry about how they’re going to eat when school is out for the summer when the safety net of school meals isn’t available to them.”
A report released from No Kid Hungry, “Hunger In Our Schools,” shows that three out of four educators say students regularly come to school hungry. This has huge ramifications for academic achievement in this nation.
The report surveyed more than a thousand teachers and principals across the country who overwhelmingly pointed to the effect hunger has on students each morning. Nearly 90% say kids can’t concentrate and lack energy. Most see increased behavior problems (65%) and decreased academic performance (84%). And 91% of teachers say breakfast is critical to academic achievement.
“It’s really important to see ending childhood hunger as the national security issue and the education issue and the economic competitive issue that it is,” says Billy.
Through its Cooking Matters program, the No Kid Hungry campaign educates and empowers low-income families to stretch their food budgets so their kids get healthy meals at home. Cooking Matters participants learn to shop strategically, use nutrition information to make healthier food choices, and cook delicious, affordable meals.
“Rather than feeling the stress of food insecurity, kids will just be able to be, well, kids.”
30 Years ago, Billy Shore put his money where hungry mouths were.
Today, that investment is paying off for the well-being of the children who will be leading us into the future.
In 2014, Billy Shore was appointed by the U.S. Congress to the nonpartisan National Commission on Hunger, to spotlight innovative ways to end hunger in America.