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3 natural industry leaders helping in the 50-year war on poverty3 natural industry leaders helping in the 50-year war on poverty

As the United States marks the 50th anniversary of the official war against poverty, we review how some natural products businesses help in their communities.

Christine Kapperman

January 7, 2014

2 Min Read
3 natural industry leaders helping in the 50-year war on poverty

NPR posed an interesting question as it marked the 50-year anniversary of when President Lyndon Johnson declared a fight against poverty: Did the U.S. win the war on poverty?

The simple answer is: No.

Complex causes and issues surround poverty. But looking at food alone, one important concern, clearly reveals a hazy outlook for our nation’s fight.

Simply accessing food has become a growing concern in recent years as organizations (and awareness, thanks in many ways to Michelle Obama) have highlighted our nation’s food deserts—places where residents have little or no access to a grocery store.

The natural products industry takes too many blows for being a part of the problem rather than a source of solutions. While I must admit too many elitist eaters exist, the industry as a whole excels at being a good neighbor.

Good Food Store in Missoula, Mont., is one amazing example. The nonprofit store last year started a nutrition program dedicated to educating elementary school kids about eating well and provides those in need with healthy foods.

Howard Pollack, the founder and owner of Rainbow Acres in Southern California actually makes stock purchases with giving in mind.

And on a larger scale, the well-loved Vitamin Angels program seems to continually get bigger and better. It recently received its sixth 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, which puts it among a class of less than 6 percent of charities recognized for sound fiscal, accountability and transparency practices.

None of these solve the longer-than-50-year fight against poverty, but every bit makes a dent. And what better place to start than in your own community—that of your residence and of your industry.

A fellow health food store owner shared her insightful thoughts a few years ago in a letter to Natural Foods Merchandiser. In it she made this still-relevant call to action:

I ask that all store owners, no matter how small or large, raise funds for sustainable agriculture to help break the cycle of poverty and hunger. If every store in this country raised something, our industry, on its own, would make a huge dent in the cycle of hunger.

Hunger is but one piece of the poverty puzzle. But it is an important one that deserves our industry’s attention.

I know hundreds of stories about stores and natural products brands doing good exist. Please share yours in the comments below.

About the Author(s)

Christine Kapperman

Senior Content Director, New Hope Network

As the senior content director at New Hope Network, Christine Kapperman combines her 20-year journalism background with her passion for business to cover the natural products industry for newhope.com and Natural Foods Merchandiser magazine. She also led content at worldteanews.com. She loves tracking (and tasting) trends as she shares what’s next to show up in cups, plates and in pantries across the United States.

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