We all turned 70 in 2016.

Like just anyone who is turning 70, this year we at Freedom from Hunger have been reflecting on our past, thinking about our legacy and considering what more we'd like to do. From our beginning in 1946, we’ve had one constant item on our bucket list—ending global hunger.

We’ve been at this mission for 70 years. Do people still find the cause of ending global hunger to be compelling?  We believe the answer is “yes,” and even more now than ever. The United Nations has defined a new set of Sustainable Development Goals,[1] one of which is to achieve zero hunger by 2030. We’re in the final countdown.

Over the years we've seen times change, staff at Freedom from Hunger change, strategies change, even the face of hunger change, but our mission to end world hunger has remained unchanged. More than at any other time in our long history, we are confident that we’ll be able to check this goal off the list in our lifetime.

So what is it that we’ve learned in 70 years?  Three key lessons have shaped who we are as an organization.

Stay focused on the goal. Even as new generations join our organization, it’s not our particular strategy that motivates them—it’s the goal. Strategies may change, and should, but the goal has always been to see a world without hunger. Even when you face disappointment (and we have!), you cannot move the goalpost. You must dig deep, accept the reality, and reconsider your strategy. In fact, don’t be afraid to re-invent yourself (and we have)! We started out as Meals for Millions, an organization providing a Multi-Purpose Food after World War II to famine-stricken countries such as France, Germany, and Austria. We moved into agriculture and nutrition programs in countries such countries as Guatemala, Thailand, and Nepal. We merged with the Freedom from Hunger Foundation in the 1960s, which was founded at the behest of President John F. Kennedy and mobilized Americans to become involved in the Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO's) global Freedom from Hunger campaign. And in our most recent history, we have focused on integrated agriculture and nutrition with microfinance across many countries in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. Hunger’s face changes, and so too must we change to be effective.

There are no silver bullets.
 Despite initial hopes that it might be a silver bullet, the world has learned microcredit alone cannot move people out of poverty. Freedom from Hunger's microfinance strategy started with the presumption that people needed more than money to move out of poverty and so we offered health and business education with loans. We have since learned that people need a set of financial services that includes savings and access to health financing. And, they want other services such as access to health care and markets. We know that digital services, such as mobile money, text-message reminders and data management all hold great promise for reducing costs and reaching even the very poor and very rural, but technology will not be a silver bullet. School feeding programs alone are not silver bullets for changing the face of hunger. Vaccination programs—closest to a silver bullet—have had visible positive impact on such diseases as polio and smallpox but require many actors, government commitment and global collaborative efforts. There is no silver bullet for ending hunger. Combined strategies are required.

Do it together whenever possible. 
A favorite African proverb says it well. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
No one organization will be able to claim responsibility for ending global hunger, but each has an important part to play. We learned this lesson early. For the past 20-plus years, we’ve relied on a strategy that engages strong partnerships, and shared visions. We’re in many relationships in many countries, with thousands of amazing and creative leaders and field staff of locally based institutions who feel even more responsible, motivated, and eager to end hunger and poverty in their own communities. We’ve achieved more together with our partners than we could have ever achieved alone with our small staff.

We believe through collaboration and partnership we can achieve a world free from hunger. We'd like to mark this off our bucket list before our 85th birthday in sync with the achievement of the UN's 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Now, that will be a birthday to celebrate!

We invite you to be a part of Freedom from Hunger’s 70th birthday celebration and join us in our unwavering commitment to fighting global hunger. 

If we go together, we will go far.

[1] For more, see http://www.globalgoals.org/global-goals/no-hunger/