These 15 projects show how we could feed the world sooner rather than later.
True
Gates Foundation: The Story of Food

If you were tasked with ending hunger by 2030, what would you do? For starters, you'd probably come up with as many solutions as possible — as fast as possible.

That's exactly what the World Food Programme (WFP) is doing. And they're asking for all the help they can get.

When it comes to feeding the 795 million people living in hunger every day, time is of the essence. Solutions are needed — fast. And the best way to come up with out-of-the-box solutions? Out-of-the-box ideation.


That's where the Innovation Accelerator comes in.

All images via the Innovation Accelerator, used with permission.

Established in 2015 in Munich, Germany, the program has a simple mission: "Finding the bright minds, getting them together with the right partners, and actually making ideas happen," explains Bernhard Kowatsch, head of the Innovation Accelerator. "With doing all of that, we can make zero hunger a reality by 2030."

They fast-track ideas by providing intensive training, funding, and even coaching from the industry's best and brightest. Think of them as a startup incubator, only their main goal is addressing global hunger.

Here are the 15 game-changing projects that the Innovation Accelerator is working on right now:

1. ShareTheMeal lets you donate meals to kids in need for just $0.50.

To date, they've delivered over 11 million meals (and counting) to kids in Malawi, Lebanon, Syria, and other places.

2. Locals are being taught how to use hydroponics to grow crops in the slums of Peru.

Hydroponics uses nutrient solutions to grow produce without soil. The best part? The families are teaching other families the technique on their own.

3. Nutrifami makes healthy eating fun for Colombians.

Nutrifami engages food-insecure families with fun online games and activities focused on smart purchasing and building healthier habits day by day.

4. MAPS tracks the nutritional progress of people in El Salvador.

The Monitoring App for Social Programmes (MAPS in its Spanish acronym) gives officials real-time access to data so they can reduce malnutrition more quickly in vulnerable communities.

5. The Food Computer is creating recipes out of climate in Jordan.

The Food Computer can control climate variables like humidity and carbon dioxide inside a special growing chamber, allowing researchers to test any location's conditions and let farmers know what crops will grow best.

6. The WFP is using satellites to monitor their revamped food infrastructure in South Sudan.

Image via iStock.

To monitor the progress of building new water resources and repairing roads, the WFP is using satellite imagery so they have a trusty eye in the sky.

7. Transformers is transforming food waste into school food in Kenya.

They're taking surplus food headed for the landfill and turning it into hot, balanced meals for schoolchildren.

8. Farmers in Africa are being taught how to care for their bounty better.

The Zero Post-Harvest Losses initiative teaches farmers modern harvesting techniques and provides them with airtight storage silos to prevent crop loss.

9. The smartphone app AgriUp is giving Guatemalan farmers the knowledge they need to be successful.

AgriUp provides farmers with tools such as weather reports, farming advice, and nutrition tips so they can improve their food security, as well as the local economy.

10. Building Blocks is changing how aid is delivered in Pakistan.

Building Blocks is taking out the middle man and creating a cheaper, quicker, and more direct money transfer, perfect for delivering aid faster and safer.

11. Real-time data is preventing stunted growth in infants.

Adaptive Programming uses real-time data on the health of citizens in order to come up with more accurate care and to help prevent conditions such as infant stunting.

12. The Virtual Farmers Market (VFM) in Zambia is connecting farmers and buyers like never before.

Using the same approach that has made apps like Airbnb and Lyft so successful, VFM is an online marketplace that lets farmers expand their reach, improve profits, and boost the local economy.

13. These Syrian refugees are learning digital skills and creating food security in the process.

Tech for Food teaches refugees digital skills such as photo editing so they can work from anywhere in the world, improving their livelihood and putting food on the table.

14. Smart Meals is changing how school food is delivered in Burundi.

School food kept running out way before the next delivery, so the Smart Meals project revamped the entire inventory system to make it more user-friendly and to ensure food gets delivered on time, every single school day.

15. The power of storytelling is opening people's eyes.

Through firsthand stories, the WFP's ZeroHunger Stories project is creating a more personal connection to their causes and getting people to better understand the importance of taking action immediately.

We need to work concisely, quickly, and as one if we're going address this global issue sooner rather than later.

Yes, it's an uphill climb, but let's not forget, the end goal of zero hunger by 2030 is right within our sight. "If we broaden the network of people that care about hunger and are willing to support it," adds Kowatsch, "it's even easier and more realistic that we will make that happen."

In fact, if you have your own idea for addressing world hunger, submit it to the Innovation Accelerator by March 14 to help make their vision a reality.

True

Judy Vaughan has spent most of her life helping other women, first as the director of House of Ruth, a safe haven for homeless families in East Los Angeles, and later as the Project Coordinator for Women for Guatemala, a solidarity organization committed to raising awareness about human rights abuses.

But in 1996, she decided to take things a step further. A house became available in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles and she was offered the opportunity to use it to help other women and children. So, in partnership with a group of 13 people who she knew from her years of activism, she decided to make it a transitional residence program for homeless women and their children. They called the program Alexandria House.

"I had learned from House of Ruth that families who are homeless are often isolated from the surrounding community," Judy says. "So we decided that as part of our mission, we would also be a neighborhood center and offer a number of resources and programs, including an after-school program and ESL classes."

She also decided that, unlike many other shelters in Los Angeles, she would accept mothers with their teenage boys.

"There are very few in Los Angeles [that do] due to what are considered liability issues," Judy explains. "Given the fact that there are (conservatively) 56,000 homeless people and only about 11,000 shelter beds on any one night, agencies can be selective on who they take."

Their Board of Directors had already determined that they should take families that would have difficulties finding a place. Some of these challenges include families with more than two children, immigrant families without legal documents, moms who are pregnant with other small children, families with a member who has a disability [and] families with service dogs.

"Being separated from your son or sons, especially in the early teen years, just adds to the stress that moms who are unhoused are already experiencing," Judy says.

"We were determined to offer women with teenage boys another choice."

Courtesy of Judy Vaughan

Alexandria House also doesn't kick boys out when they turn 18. For example, Judy says they currently have a mom with two daughters (21 and 2) and a son who just turned 18. The family had struggled to find a shelter that would take them all together, and once they found Alexandria House, they worried the boy would be kicked out on his 18th birthday. But, says Judy, "we were not going to ask him to leave because of his age."

Homelessness is a big issue in Los Angeles. "[It] is considered the homeless capital of the United States," Judy says. "The numbers have not changed significantly since 1984 when I was working at the House of Ruth." The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the problem. According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), over 66,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area were experiencing homelessness in 2020, representing a rise of 12.7% compared with the year before.

Each woman who comes to Alexandria House has her own unique story, but some common reasons for ending up homeless include fleeing from a domestic violence or human trafficking situation, aging out of foster care and having no place to go, being priced out of an apartment, losing a job, or experiencing a family emergency with no 'cushion' to pay the rent.

"Homelessness is not a definition; it is a situation that a person finds themselves in, and in fact, it can happen to almost anyone. There are many practices and policies that make it almost impossible to break out of poverty and move out of homelessness."

And that's why Alexandria House exists: to help them move out of it. How long that takes depends on the woman, but according to Judy, families stay an average of 10 months. During that time, the women meet with support staff to identify needs and goals and put a plan of action in place.

A number of services are provided, including free childcare, programs and mentoring for school-age children, free mental health counseling, financial literacy classes and a savings program. They have also started Step Up Sisterhood LA, an entrepreneurial program to support women's dreams of starting their own businesses. "We serve as a support system for as long as a family would like," Judy says, even after they have moved on.

And so far, the program is a resounding success.

92 percent of the 200 families who stayed at Alexandria House have found financial stability and permanent housing — not becoming homeless again.

Since founding Alexandria House 25 years ago, Judy has never lost sight of her mission to join with others and create a vision of a more just society and community. That is why she is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year — and the donation she receives as a nominee will go to Alexandria House and will help grow the new Start-up Sisterhood LA program.

"Alexandria House is such an important part of my life," says Judy. "It has been amazing to watch the children grow up and the moms recreate their lives for themselves and for their families. I have witnessed resiliency, courage, and heroic acts of generosity."

We know that mammals feed their young with milk from their own bodies, and we know that whales are mammals. But the logistics of how some whales make breastfeeding happen has been a bit of a mystery for scientists. Such has been the case with sperm whales.

Sperm whales are uniquely shaped, with humongous, block-shaped heads that house the largest brains in the animal world. Like other cetaceans, sperm whale babies rely on their mother's milk for sustenance in their first year or two. And also like other cetaceans, a sperm whale mama's nipple is inverted—it doesn't stick out from her body like many mammals, but rather is hidden inside a mammary slit.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less