Month August 2014

Palms for Life and Hunger


Palms for Life is a US-based non-profit founded in 2006 by Hannah Laufer-Rottman, a former long-time employee of the UN World Food Programme.  The organization mobilizes resources to support social development projects in the areas of food, water, sanitation and education with a strong emphasis on girls’ participation.  All projects are implemented in developing countries by local partner organizations.

The philosophy of Palms for Life is best expressed by its founder:

“I have seen poverty throughout the world.  I know what it means for poor people to live a life with no hope for the future, and I know with complete certainty that we can make a difference by joining hands and working together.  I have seen first-hand, from my own life experiences, that the cycle of hunger and poverty can be broken.  It takes knowledge and participation at the local level, a strong commitment, and vision.”

At Palms for Life we address the issue of hunger from a dual platform: first, we make it loud and clear that “hunger is everyone’s business” and our message is always universal.  In other words, we want ALL individuals in the world to have access to all the food they need to live a healthy life and we want this to happen NOW and we want to do it RIGHT, in alliance with others.  Hence our Global Alliance.

The second platform is one that allows us to act within our level of resources keeping however within the frame of our global perspective. For instance, in 2009 Palms for Life produced the Faces of Hunger in America film contest to raise awareness about hunger in the United States.  It also designed the HUNGRY tee shirt with the implicit message: “I wear this tee shirt because I am a global citizen and I feel hungry when anyone else in this world is hungry and I feel the pain if any child in this world goes to bed on a hungry stomach.”  We have produced a short PSA that was projected in movie theaters also showing images of hunger.  We have designed and distributed aprons to the street vendors in NYC.  The apron reads: “I Feed You. Help Feed Them. Because Hunger is Everyone’s Business.”  On the ground, we support female subsistence farmers in Burkina Faso with small integrated interventions.  In Swaziland we work in 120 schools bringing water, latrines and school gardens to support school feeding impacting 40,000 children.  For us school feeding is key in supporting education in developing countries.

While we view access to food as a basic human right and act accordingly, we also know that there is no quick-fix to this plague.  Tackling hunger and food security from their very root causes requires intelligence.  Intelligence in gathering facts, understanding complex and intertwined realities that vary from place to place and from culture to culture.  Intelligence in framing our analysis at all levels, the macro and the local, up to the very individual one.  Talking to this one woman and understanding her unique situation and her unique needs.

As said above, there is no quick fix to hunger and band aid solutions, even the most sophisticated charitable feeding systems, can only go this far before collapsing and revealing that the work is far from being done.

This post was sent to us by Hannah Laufer-Rottman, the founder of Palms for Life. Thank you Hannah and Palms for Life for all you do!