In 1980, I was born, along with millions of my peers around the world. Ok, that’s certainly not a major event, but relevant because in 2010, I realized that many major food system problems, which seemed so entrenched and unflinching and overwhelming, were really just created in our lifetime. So, if human innovation (and greed and power) could create a world of over one billion overweight and almost one billion hungry in just thirty years, surely we could unravel the bad and invest in the good to create a healthier food system in our lifetime, too? In pursuit of this goal, I decided that the first step was to get people to really understand the problem. In 2010, around the time I gave my first TEDx Talk, I created a little organization called the 30 Project. My goal was to change the conversation that had theretofore been very segmented—between hunger-fighters on one side and obesity activists on the other.
I was firmly convinced that if more conferences and organizations and talks were focused on “obesity + hunger = one global food issue,” we could get the right people talking about the right ways to rebuild a food system that addresses both problems. In the past four years since the launch of the 30 Project, the craziest thing has happened: Much of what I had hoped for.
I have now spoken on many panels about hunger and obesity as one malnutrition crisis. I have seen venerable groups like the World Economic Forum, the World Food Prize, and TEDx Manhattan create programming focused on looking holistically at food system change. I’ve hosted dinners of likeminded folks from San Francisco to Sioux City, Iowa, and connected new leaders who are changing the food system. The tide has shifted and today more people who work on hunger and obesity are connected and working together. In many ways, one of the key goals of the 30 Project—to be a part of changing the conversation—has been accomplished. I believe the ultimate goal of a nonprofit should be to put itself out of business. Stay tuned for what’s next.