As a chef, the issue of hunger has always been near to my heart. To me, food is so much more than nourishment – it is love; it is hope for a happier life and a better future. Hunger is a problem globally, but many people are surprised to learn that one in six people in the United States—one of the most food-rich nations in the world—doesn’t have enough to eat.
That’s why I’m excited to help inspire people to try to solve hunger in the United States by joining Feeding America – an organization that distributes more than 3.3 billion meals to people in need each year – and National Geographic as a guest editor for a Your Shot assignment, The Story of Hunger and Hope.
For the Story of Hunger and Hope, photographers of all levels can join the community and submit their photographs that convey the hope we have as a society in solving hunger. I am especially looking forward to seeing more submissions from U.S.-based photographers that demonstrate hunger and hope in the United States.
Hunger exists in every community in the Unites States, from wealthy suburbs to the remote mountains, and even in the very regions where most of our food is grown. We are looking for images that depict the diversity of people who face hunger and yet are filled with the hope for a more food-secure future such as the photo below, taken by National Geographic photographer my Your Shot co-editor Annie Griffiths in Chowchilla, California.
This photo features Silvia, a single mother who works hard in addition to raising her three children, teaching her eldest son to cook. Silvia receives food from her local food bank once a month, and uses it to not only nourish her children, but to teach the valuable life skills and pass on family traditions.
I chose to feature this photo as an example because it speaks to my values as a chef, an anti-hunger advocate, and a father. I believe in the power of cooking to bring families together and positively shape lives. Certainly, cooking with my family made me who I am today. My first memories of cooking were of my grandmother making ravioli and my first experience with cooking was making breakfast on the weekends with my dad and baking with my mother. The kitchen at my house was a place where traditions were passed down, bodies and souls were nourished and consequently, a place where love abounded.
I believe every family in America should have the opportunity to come together around food and cooking—and provide nourishment and hope to their children. If you are a photographer, join me in the fight against hunger by documenting hunger and hope in your community and submitting to Your Shot. The winners of the assignment will have a chance to have their photographs featured in an eponymous National Geographic book being released next fall. I also encourage you to connect with your local food bank to learn more about hunger in your community and what you can do to help. Working together, we can bring more attention to the issue of hunger and help people understand the power of food to change lives.
Mario Batali is a member of the Feeding America Entertainment Council and a longtime anti-hunger advocate.
Photo credit: Melanie Dunea
Above photo credit: Annie Griffiths