Feeding the World Together: Our First Zero Hunger Summit
Last week, we hosted the first ever Zero Hunger Summit during Dreamforce. Food and nutrition insecurity is growing around the world, with over 690 million people dealing with hunger. It is an urgent and growing crisis that will require unprecedented, cross-sector collaboration to address. At Salesforce.org, we’ve seen how much we can achieve when we create spaces to bring a diverse group of experts together to share ideas, challenge perspectives and come up with unique approaches to the challenge. The Zero Hunger Summit was one of those spaces.
A total of 115 people from nonprofits, corporations, and advocacy groups joined us for a day of discussion, collaboration, and inspiration. The energy in the room — both physically and virtually — was palpable. It was a passionate group that was excited to work together to find new ways to combine expertise and resources to challenge the status quo and work toward a better future.
There were three main takeaways from the day:
1. Reimagining in a Post-Pandemic World
The last few years have been hard. It felt like everything changed overnight, and nothing would be the same again. No one felt this more than the people already dealing with food insecurity, and those who were pushed into it. Over the last two years, the number of undernourished people grew by as many as 150 million.
The crises of the last few years made us feel like nothing would be the same. The small silver lining of such a catastrophic event is that it pushed us all to find new ways to meet increasing demand with speed. Whether it’s farming, sourcing, distribution, or the delivery of food, the group challenged itself to shed orthodoxies and cast aside what isn’t working. They looked toward the future, acknowledging the opportunity for a fresh start.
2. Extending the Definition of Dignity
Access to food is a biological imperative and fundamental right. Unfortunately, the inability to put food on the table and the need to stand in line for food assistance can stir up feelings of shame. No one should have to feel this way.
As we prioritize creating a more dignified experience for accessing food, the group also discussed a more comprehensive definition of what that means. Every person not only has the right to access food, but to access the right food to meet their nutritional, medical, religious, or cultural needs. Further, how they collect that food should be on par with today’s norms on shopping for groceries or ordering meals. Whether it’s cash assistance, mobile apps for ordering ahead, food delivery, or curbside pickup, we have an opportunity to provide access to food in a psychologically safe and dignified way.
With the advances in technology, and the data to build a better understanding of our communities’ needs, we can meet people where they are and serve them in ways they want to be served.
3. Shifting to the Abundance Mindset
During the panel, Ben Collier, CEO of The Farmlink Project, said it best. “Waste, surplus and abundance all mean the same thing; there is more than enough to go around. Rather than viewing this extra food as a burden or a “problem” to be solved, we should take the opportunity to focus on abundance.” In other words, we have enough food to feed everyone what they need to thrive.
The abundance mindset also applies to how we measure our impact and work together. The group challenged how we measure impact, and recommended finding measurements that encourage collaboration across the supply chain. Given how many organizations are involved in the process, we need to coordinate and optimize our individual efforts toward a more equitable, dignified experience.
The Future of Food Assistance
The hunger crisis will not resolve itself without unprecedented collaboration on the local, national, and global level. This was further underscored by the plan laid out by the White House after the first Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in over 50 years. We need to act, and we need to do it together.
So, what comes after our Zero Hunger Summit? Connections were made, brainstorms started, and actionable ideas were brought back to organizations. We look forward to seeing this work continue to evolve, and it is our honor to offer not only our tech, talent, and resources to the cause, but also create more spaces to bring this group together again.
Our upcoming Impact Labs cohorts are one example. We are so excited to gather experts from around the world, some of which joined us at the summit, to work on delivering a more dignified food service experience, and supporting small farmers in remote areas.
While we can work to find an end to hunger, there is no end to the inspiration we get from seeing our community working side by side. We are so grateful to be on this journey with them, and look forward to what we can achieve together.
Special thanks to our panelists:
- Benjamin Schorr, Associate Director, Philanthropy and Social Impact, Kellogg’s
- Ben Collier, Co-CEO, Farmlink
- Elizabeth Pettengill, Senior Director, New Partnerships, Feeding America
And to our presenters for sharing innovative technology solutions:
- Melvin Acosta, VP of Operations & Logistics, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle
- Michael G. Guerra, Chief Resource Officer, San Antonio Food Bank
- Destiny Stivers, Director of Philanthropy Operations; San Antonio Food Bank
- Abdellah Bellahssan, CEO & Founder, Akatia Technologies
- Brent Reed, Technology Consultant, Akatia Technologies
- John McKenzie, Founder and CEO, Prolocity
- Jeremy Donelan, Nonprofit Practice Lead, Prolocity
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