Big Hunger: The Unholy Alliance Between Corporate America and Anti-Hunger Groups

In Big Hunger, Andrew Fisher takes a critical look at the business of hunger. Food charity is embedded in American civil society, and federal food programs have remained intact while other anti-poverty programs have been eliminated or slashed. But anti-hunger advocates are missing an essential element of the problem: economic inequality driven by low wages. Reliant on corporate donations of food and money, anti-hunger organizations have failed to hold business accountable for offshoring jobs, cutting benefits, exploiting workers and rural communities, and resisting wage increases. They have become part of a “hunger industrial complex” that seems as self-perpetuating as the more famous military-industrial complex.

Fisher lays out a vision that encompasses a broader definition of hunger characterized by a focus on public health, economic justice, and economic democracy. He points to the work of numerous grassroots organizations that are leading the way in these fields as models for the rest of the anti-hunger sector. It is only through approaches like these that we can hope to end hunger, not just manage it.

Praise for Big Hunger

Big Hunger is arguably the most important book on the American food scene in a decade. A decade ago, the food scene was rocked by The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Now we must face a Charitable Dilemma.”

—Wayne Roberts, author of The No-Nonsense Guide to World Food

“If you are an anti-hunger activist, you should read Big Hunger. It may make you mad, and it will definitely make you think.”

—Jan Poppendieck, Senior Fellow, CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute; Professor Emerita of Sociology, Hunter College

About the Author

In 1994, Andy Fisher co-founded and led the Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC), a first of its kind national alliance of hundreds of groups working on urban food access and local food. Fisher led CFSC as Executive Director for 15 years, creating and gaining momentum for the concept of community food security while building the food movement as a whole. He successfully led advocacy efforts and passage of crucial federal nutrition legislation to address food security, including the establishment of the Community Food Projects and Farm to School grants. Fisher is an expert on a variety of food system topics and tactics, including food policy councils, community food assessments, healthy corner stores, coalition building, and farm to cafeteria programs.

Fisher is an activist, NGO consultant, and an adjunct teacher at Portland University in Oregon. His book, Big Hunger, is the launch for a new vision for how to untangle corporate interests from food banks and the anti-hunger movement. Follow Andy on Twitter: @Fisherfood.

Real Food Reads Recipes

Our resident recipe guru Jessica Jones weighs in with some tasty treats that’ll take your book club to the next level. Check out Jessica’s blog and podcast, Food Heaven Made Easy, an online resource for delicious and nutritious plant-based living. 

The Ultimate Beet Burger

From Food Heaven Made Easy

Serves 4 

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 cup grated beets
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup cooked red beans
1 egg
1/4 cup oat flour
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup rolled oats
  1. Start by sautéing your chopped onions in coconut oil for 2-3 minutes
  2. Add in the beets, and cook over low heat for another 5 minutes
  3. Allow to cool, and add to a food processor along with the sunflower seeds, beans, egg, oat flour (just pulse rolled oats until a flour-like consistency is reached), and spices
  4. Pulse until everything is mixed well together, and you have a pasty, thick finish. We don’t want the blend super mushy either so don’t overdo it…a few pulses and that’s it.
  5. Add this to a bowl, and mix in the rolled oats. This will add more structure to the burgers
  6. Using your hands, form 4 patties
  7. Let them sit out for 20 minutes, so they can firm up a bit
  8. If you’re ready to enjoy now, pop these into the oven and bake @400 for 10-12 minutes or until the burger is crisp and browned
  9. Alternatively, you can also store these in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days or freeze until ready to use
  10. Enjoy on a bun, topped with arugula, onions, avocado, and/or tahini!

Header photo by King of Hearts/Wikimedia