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NFL Rookie’s Fans Donate to Hunger Relief After Torn ACL in First Game

Perhaps this year more than most, the NFL means something personal to a great many of its fans. They all have their own team that feels like a part of their community, maybe even a particular player who may as well be family. 

Joe Burrow, a rookie quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals became that player for a lot of people on Sunday November 22, when he went down on the field with a torn ACL. It’s his first pro season, and for him, it’s already over. You can’t help but have empathy for the young player.

In that spirit, Bengals fans started to show their solidarity almost instantly by donating $9 each (9, for his jersey number) to the Joe Burrow Hunger Relief Fund, a fundraising effort he began last year to support the Athens County Pantry. The pantry, which is 40 years old this year, provides supplemental and emergency food provisions to people in need in Athens County, where Burrow is from. He began the fund with a $350,000 donation after putting out a call for generosity to his fans during his acceptance of the 2019 Heisman Trophy, and it was matched with another $350,000 from the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, a philanthropic group.

Burrow, who grew up in a food-insecure household, has made it a personal focus of his career in football to bring the true scale of American poverty to light and to help feed those growing up as he did. The support shown for his injury on Sunday raised nearly $30,000 more for the pantry in just a few hours. His Bengals teammates were outspoken on Twitter with gratitude for the donations on his behalf.

“Thanks for all the love,” Burrows tweeted himself, following his injury. “Can’t get rid of me that easy. See ya next year.”

Source: CBS Sports

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Hunger in America Growing

Feeding America
IMG: via feedingamerica.org

According to Feeding America, the United States has many more hungry citizens than it used to. The nonprofit organization is now feeding about 50% more people than it did in 2006, and though more people have stepped up to help, there are still far too many hungry families in the nation.

Today, about 1 in 6 Americans lives in a food-insecure household. “Food security” is defined as having healthy food available and accessible. Among children, 1 in 5 lives in a food insecure household. Not having access to proper nutrition causes more than just hunger; it can also contribute to chronic diseases, more aggression and anxiety, and inhibited development of social skills.

According to a poll by Gallup, every single county in the U.S. contains food-insecure families. In 2012, about 18.2% of Americans didn’t always have enough money for food. In Mississippi, Alabama, and Delaware that number is greater than 22%. Twelve other states, many in the South, that percentage is between 20% and 22%.

Fifteen percent of Americans live in poverty. That’s nearly 1 in every 6 people. One in 8 Americans is reliant on Feeding America to provide enough food and groceries to survive on. And that number keeps going up. Pantries, kitchens, shelters, and other organizations that work in conjunction with Feeding America have all seen increases in the number of people needing assistance.

Currently, about 60% of food-insecure households participate in federal food assistance programs, and those numbers are up as well. The number of participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is up to 40.3 million from 20 million in 1990; the National School Lunch Program is up to 31.7 million from 24.1 million; and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children is up to 9.2 million from 4.5 million.

Feeding American currently provides food and groceries to some 37 million people every year, but many more still need assistance. It costs about $1 to buy 8 meals for one man, woman, or child. That means that an entire family can be fed for a month from just $45, six months for $270, and one year for $540.

Those interested in helping can also get involved by working at food pantries, transporting food to charitable organizations, participating in virtual or actual food drives, or volunteering for a local Kids Café program.

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Can Philanthropy Save the World?

 

bill gates
IMG: 3777190317 / Shutterstock.com

Last week, Bill Gates and Carlos Slim Helu joined forces to support the opening of the new International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center. The two men are among the wealthiest people in the world, and though they came together on this occasion they have opposing viewpoints when it comes to philanthropy as a whole.

Bill Gates, who we have previously profiled, is famed for his generosity through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which donates about $4 billion each year. He also founded The Giving Pledge in an effort to recruit other wealthy individuals to give the majority of their wealth away to charity.

Slim, on the other hand, doesn’t believe that philanthropy has the power to solve problems permanently—only create dependence. “We have seen donations for 100 years,” he said in an interview with The Chronicle of Philanthropy. “We have seen thousands of people working in nonprofits, and the problems and poverty are bigger. They have not solved anything.”

That’s not to say Slim doesn’t give any of his wealth away—he’s just more careful about it. He chooses environmental, health, and educational programs while avoiding those that advocate for stronger democracy or civic participation. Like Gates, he has his own foundation, the Carlos Slim Foundation, and has funded other foundations as well.

Slim believes that the key to fighting poverty is in job creation and through social initiatives rather than charitable giving. He says the responsibility of the wealthy businessman is to keep building their wealth and thereby fight poverty through means that will promote independence rather than dependence.

Philanthropy comes in many forms. Gates and Slim may have different approaches, but certainly both men are charitable in their own ways. Can charitable giving as approached by Bill Gates save the world from poverty and hunger? Or ought we take a more critical view of giving and fall in line with Slim’s view?