As Howard Buffett looked over a room of 700 people in Des Moines, Iowa, all there to hear him speak about the fight against world hunger, he gave the room a dose of constructive criticism.
When Buffett addressed the crowd of government officials, foreign aid association representatives and nonprofit leaders all there to help end world hunger, he said “the solution is not setting goals and campaigns, the solution is changing our mindsets.”
Howard Buffett – philanthropist, farmer, photographer, businessman and the oldest son of Warren Buffett – was the person delegated to give the keynote speech at the Iowa Hunger Summit this week. It took place at the World Food Prize event in Des Moines, Iowa.
Howard Buffett has spent many years of his life documenting the way that world hunger affects citizens of the United States of America, and all over the world. He has filmed certain situations, and written about them as well. You can learn about this information through some of the foundations that he supports and the nonprofit organizations that he runs. One such organization is known as Invest an Acre, and they encourage farmers to put aside 1 acre of land to donate the crops to their local food bank.
During his speech, Howard Buffett showed the audience a wide array of photographs. There were images of poverty, skulls, pestilence, war, emaciation, old people, young people, and dead and dying people, all to the tune of U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name” as it played in the background.
“When I started, I thought if we could produce more, we could feed more people. I was wrong,” said Buffett, while he noted that there were lots of reasons why hunger still existed. Some of the issues were related to climate, transportation, and politics. All of these issues prevent people from getting the food that they need to survive.
Buffett also reminded us that there is need for a number of groups to start working on all of the problems previously mentioned. Many of the philanthropic organizations today started a long time ago, and their missions were “written before cellphones, before the Internet.”
Another issue with nonprofits is that they are actually afraid to solve the problem that they set out to fix. Why you ask? Because they know solving the problem will actually put a lot of people out of jobs.
“It’s not an indictment of you,” he said. “It’s an indictment of the system.”
During his speech, he recommends that foundations and nonprofit organizations issue a date of destruction of 40 years. He learned this deadline as a young farmer when he was taught that farmers have about 40 chances to get it right.
“What if every NGO (nongovernmental organization) set themselves up for 40 years? If we are really as good as we want to be, this approach will change our thinking and policy.”
Also during the Iowa Hunger Summit, AARP Foundation Director JoAnn Jenkins gave a speech about the challenge of food insecurity for the elderly in the United States.
To put it simply, food insecurity is not knowing whether or not you will have food available to you within a 24-hour period.
Jenkins also mentioned that it’s a “time of great anxiety and uncertainty” for the part of the population that is aging in the United States. For people 50 years of age or older, the unemployment rate has doubled, and the average Social Security payment is only $1200 per month.
Jenkins also said that older Americans are facing issues with isolation, unemployment and housing right now. She strongly encouraged the people in the audience to reach out to those older Americans, and let them know about certain resources such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which helps the American people put more food on their table.
“It is a sad irony that even as the world becomes more interconnected, people 50-plus feel more disconnected,” said Jenkins.