The Hunger Project has always been committed to ending world hunger with its incredible initiatives and partnership – raising funds and awareness.

During what can only be described as the worst of times, The Hunger Projects only keeps thriving to help those who need it the most.

I had the absolute delight of chatting to CEO Melanie Noden, and discuss; the mission behind this amazing organisation, how we can all help, and the ‘Stay in, Reach out’ initiative during COVID19.

Congratulations on all the amazing work The Hunger Project has been doing – for those that don’t know the company, are you able to give a little background into how it got started and who it supports?

Thank you! Of course — we’re a global organisation that was founded in 1977. We have now grown to teams in 9 countries that raise funds and awareness for our work with 16.5 million people living in 13,600 communities across 13 countries globally.

Our mission at The Hunger Project is to end chronic, persistent hunger. Yes, it’s a big goal! It’s also been backed by The United Nations through their 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Our approach is different – we see people living in hunger as the solution, not the problem. We shift the mindsets of women and men, so they transform into leaders for the sustainable end of hunger. Then, through our programs such as education, microfinance, agriculture, and health, we empower people with the skills, knowledge and resources they need to break the poverty cycle themselves.

Now – let’s talk about the ‘Stay In, Reach Out’ campaign that you have launched during COVID19 – what is this campaign all about?

Well, we all know that Australians have done a great job of banding together and staying home to keep the community safe during this pandemic.

Now is our chance to extend that spirit of the collective good to the global community – where many villages globally are being hit hard by the impact of COVID-19. While you stay in to protect yourself and your family you can still reach out to keep 16.5 million people safe. It’s simple. We’re asking people to give the equivalent of what you would spend on the things you still can’t do right now, and instead enable others to do what they can in order to keep safe! If you’re in the position to give, please do so at: www.thp.org.au/stayinreachout

I’m proud to say that The Hunger Project is uniquely placed to respond rapidly to COVID-19 because of the 500,000 community leaders we’ve trained. Over many years we have empowered and prepared them to respond to the needs of their communities – no matter the challenge – from ending hunger to stopping child marriage and adapting to the effects of climate change, and now to stopping the spread of COVID-19. Because they are already equipped with the leadership skills and resources to respond to local challenges, they were quickly able to mobilise and take action to protect themselves and their families.

How can people and businesses get involved and help?

You can get involved in Stay In, Reach Out by giving the equivalent of what you can’t do right now – like going to the movies or a concert – and posting on your social media to call on your friends and followers to do the same. Please tag us and use the hashtag #StayInReachOut, so we can acknowledge and celebrate you!

Businesses can also reach out and chat to us about how to get involved by emailing our Head of Partnerships, Tara, on tara.donnelly@thp.org. We’d love to hear from you!

Where will the funds be distributed?

The funds will be distributed to the communities amongst the hardest hit by the pandemic globally. These communities have the most to lose, with many people already living in poverty and hunger, which is further compounded by the impact of COVID-19.

With the investment by Australians, we will be able to roll out crucial program work such as sharing accurate healthcare information, training people on proper handwashing techniques, and making and distributing hand sanitiser and facemasks.

One of the things I love about The Hunger Project is that every dollar invested goes such a long way because of our local, community-led solutions. For example, giving what you would spend on a coffee could fund the construction of a Tippy Tap (simple foot-operated handwashing station) so a family has access to hand washing in their home. So, if you’re in the position to, I really encourage you to give what you can.

What are your hopes for the campaign?

Our vision is to create COVID-19 resilient communities in the 13,600 villages where we work around the world. This work is already well underway, and with the partnership of Australians we can do even more. This is a global problem that requires a global solution, and it’s incredible to see so many Australians stepping up and being part of this campaign. When we all work together towards a common goal, incredible things are possible.