December 18, 2014

by Mario Batali

Throughout the past few weeks, it has been a privilege to pour through the images of hunger and hope submitted to the National Geographic Your Shot assignment. There were so many fantastic shots that it was difficult to select my favorites, but after much deliberation I finally arrived at the below four images.

Each of these shots appealed to me for a different reason. Despite what you might assume, I did not choose this image of fresh tomatoes because of my affinity for marinara sauce. I chose it because it demonstrates that hope that can spring from planting a small seed. Through gardening we can grow a bounty of fresh, healthy produce to share with local food banks and help provide people facing hunger in our communities with fresh food to eat.

Growing food for people in need

Photo credit: Linda Bohrer

This next photo portrays volunteers gleaning produce from an American farm. In the U.S. today, 70 billion pounds of edible food goes to waste – including 6 billion pounds of produce – each year. Feeding America rescues a large portion of this produce, but you could help rescue even more. By collecting good, safe food left on farms after a harvest – known as gleaning – and donating it to your local food bank, you can help prevent fresh food from going to waste by getting it onto the plates of people in need.


Photo credit: Grant Baldwin

Volunteering has always been a value of mine and I work hard to make it a priority for my entire family. That’s why I appreciate this photo of a volunteer helping a man with his groceries at a food pantry. The Feeding America network relies on two million volunteers to help serve more than 46 million people in need. Volunteering at your local food bank or food pantry is something all of us can do to give back to our communities.

Volunteering at a food pantry

Photo credit: Michelle Walker

Finally, this last photo is particularly meaningful in the midst of this holiday season. It captures a free Thanksgiving meal being served to people who might otherwise go without on this special day. It’s easy to take for granted the abundance placed on our plates during holiday celebrations. This photo reminds us to not only be thankful for what we have, but to help people struggling during this season celebrate as well. By serving people in need we can give them so much more than food – we can give them hope for brighter days ahead.

Holiday meal distribution

Photo credit: Deja Cross

While giving back to others during the holidays is valuable, it’s also important to remember that hunger is not seasonal. It exists all year round in every community in the U.S. This assignment reminds us that hunger can affect anyone, anywhere and in fact, does impact us all.

Hunger in America is a serious issue, but it does not have to be. I am passionate about hunger relief because it is solvable if we all do our part. The images I chose all demonstrate unique ways to join the fight against hunger. You can discover even more ways to help by finding your local food bank on and contacting them to learn more.  I challenge you to join us in the fight against hunger. Donate. Advocate. Volunteer. Together, we can solve hunger and make a difference for millions of people in need.

Mario BataliMario Batali is a member of the Feeding America Entertainment Council and a longtime anti-hunger advocate.

Photo credit: Melanie Dunea

Tags: Hunger Heroes , Hunger in America

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