Second Harvest Heartland

Nobody wants to live without shelter. But we can.

Nobody wants to live without transportation. But we can.

Nobody wants to live without companionship. But we can.

Nobody wants to live without food. And sadly, we can't.

The role of food in our lives is so special, so unique, and so essential that I've always been hyper aware of what its presence (or absence) does to us.

Having easy access to food at a grocery store or farmers market – without having to grow or raise it ourselves – is one of humanity's greatest accomplishments. But since the vast majority of us don't grow our own food, raise our own chickens or cattle, and are completely dependent on using money for the nourishment to survive and thrive, what happens when the money dries up?

Unfortunately, many people in impoverished countries simply go without and try to hold on by consuming even the least appealing options available.

But folks in rich countries have their ability to get food compromised too and are at the mercy of others' generosity.

This is why I have a special place in my heart for organizations that work to end hunger for people who can't get their own food. This (and many other reasons) is why my first charitable dollars go to food-related charities.

Although I've never had to rely on a food bank and probably never will, there may come a time when it's necessary. Therefore, I want to support non-profits who take care of the current needs of the less fortunate and the future needs of an unpredictable population.

Enter Second Harvest Heartland

There are few things I support with more enthusiasm and pride than Second Harvest Heartland.

When they say they support hunger relief, they're talking about going well beyond the traditional food bank.

If you read their About Page, you'll see the huge impact they're making primarily in Minnesota and Wisconsin, but also nationally.

My heart sings when I read their words:

Our goal is not only to help our hungry neighbors today, but to provide the means for everyone to be fed tomorrow.

Second Harvest Heartland goes on to say that, “In 2011 alone, we collected, warehoused and distributed more than 70 million pounds of food – but we're also constantly pioneering ways to reduce waste and better use the abundant resources available in this land of plenty.”

I can't tell you how emphatically I nod my head when I read this. And they eloquently answer a question like:

Providing a bag of groceries to a person in need today is obviously important. But how do we make it so that person isn't in need tomorrow?

Or a question like:

It's becoming increasingly clear that providing our hungry neighbors information about available resources is just as important as the food source itself. What good is a food source if no one knows about it?

I'm not going to copy and paste everything from their website here as you're perfectly capable of clicking a link and reading for yourself.

But a primary reason I chose Second Harvest Heartland as the Value of Simple partner charity over other many worthy causes is because this is as uncontroversial as it gets.

By donating 5% of all pretax income that Value of Simple generates to help people eat, I'm not asking you to support my politics, religious views, philosophy, or anything else we may disagree on.

I'm being transparent in my commitment to help end hunger – first regionally, but ultimately worldwide – and respect that we think differently about many other things.

I've volunteered in their food banks. I've written emails to my state legislators on their behalf. I've read on Charity Navigator about their financial stewardship – 94% of every dollar raised goes directly to program expenses (!) – their organizational transparency, and understand why they get the highest rating possible.

And I know you have your own causes that you support. I know it's mentally and financially tough to add yet another cause to your list with all the extremely worthy alternatives. If only we all had the financial resources of Bill Gates and could support hundreds of worthy causes, right?

But even if you don't live in the Upper Midwest, consider exploring more of what Second Harvest Heartland is doing. And if you really want to make my day, consider donating even a small amount.

My Relationship with Food and Hunger

I'll admit I have a somewhat strange relationship with food and hunger. All the food I've ever needed has been provided to me…and in abundance. I'm extremely grateful and don't take this amazing gift for granted.

But I want to understand what it's like to not know when your next meal is coming and from where. I want to understand the deep physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual pain that people without food go through.

This is where my inner-Stoic and drive for personal experimentation collide.

It's not a coincidence that I've written about the war on food and the challenges of 2.7 billion people who live on less than two dollars a day.

It's not a coincidence that many of my personal experiments have involved intentionally fasting for 48 hours, 72 hours, or an attempt at 120 hours.

I'm lucky. I get to choose when I don't eat. And if I want to change my mind, a fully stocked fridge and loaded kitchen cabinets are steps away.

Millions and millions of people aren't this lucky.

This is why I'm proud Second Harvest Heartland exists and is the official partner charity of Value of Simple.

If you appreciate this and support the mission of Second Harvest Heartland, I want you to feel good every time you send a small amount of your hard earned money this way. Whether that's indirectly through an affiliate link or directly through a product or service I create, thank you.

Second Harvest Heartland thanks you too after I pass along 5% of it to them.

Do you have a charity fighting the war against hunger I should know about? Or do you have thoughts about what you've just read here? Please leave a comment and let us know.