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MainStreet is on a mission to find the charitable organizations most worthy of your donations. We focus on their effectiveness and the amount of money they budget for actual good deeds, as opposed to that which goes to overhead.

This week we’re looking at Feeding America’s Hungry Children (FAHC).

FAHC solicits donated food and grocery products from the nation's food and grocery industry, along with farmers and other sources, and distributes it to hungry people across America. So far, the organization has helped provide nearly 1.5 million meals to benefit more than 38,000 families.

Who they are and what they do: Based in Phoenix, FAHC solicits and collects donated food—including “rescued” fruits and vegetables (surpluses from growers and distributors which otherwise would go to waste). FAHC then provides these goods to food banks, soup kitchens, women’s shelters and other agencies that have immediate need. We’re talking truckloads of valuable and desperately needed food.

“Over the last 20 years we have developed relationships with the food banking network throughout the United States and have developed a notification list of food banks and food distribution agencies that are capable of handling semi load lots (36,000 pounds) at a time,” says Lon Taylor of FAHC. The organization currently has agencies in 22 states on its notification list, with the goal of serving all states in the near future.

Like many other charities, FAHC is definitely feeling the impact of the current economic situation. Many of the food banks and agencies they work with are noticing a common trend: People who previously donated or volunteered have run into economic hardships and are now on the other side of the fence, seeking help for themselves.

“We are overwhelmed with a 40% increase in local demand and the agencies on our notification list are experiencing the same,” says Taylor. “The greatest impact though is the lack of funds to transport the rescued fruits and vegetables to the different agencies, resulting in millions of pounds of the rescued fruits and vegetables to be thrown away rather than getting to the hungry people.”

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The agency is helping to rescue and distribute more than 20 million pounds of food every year, but this year they had to let more than 30 million pounds of fruits and vegetables go to waste because of an ability to transport it.

How they spend your money:
FAHC spends more than 98 cents of every dollar on programs and services. The organization has a four star rating from Charity Navigator, the country’s largest independent charity evaluator. This rating (the highest on Charity Navigator’s scale) means FAHC exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in its cause category. They maintain that impressive record thanks to a core of dedicated volunteers and a synergy with other groups dedicated to a common goal.

“We have a volunteer work force and have made strategic alliances with other agencies that have a common vision: ‘Save the Food, Feed the Hungry,'" Taylor says.

How to donate: If you’d like to make a donation, or can help with the transportation of donated food, visit FAHC’s web site.

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