42 million Americans struggle to find their next meal.

When most people think about hunger, they think of a starving child in a third-world country. Or perhaps they think of a long line of homeless people waiting outside an inner-city soup kitchen.

The truth is: hunger is a HUGE problem everywhere in the United States, but it’s not always easy to see. In a country known for its wealth and prosperity, 42 million Americans struggle to find their next meal.

The face of hunger has changed. No longer is it just the homeless man on the street reaching out for a helping hand, but every day millions of people are struggling to feed their families. No one is a stranger to the economic hardships of today.

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Hunger is all around us. Hunger is not limited to a single demographic or geographic region of the country. It is not a problem only affecting the homeless or the poorest of the poor. Hunger is everywhere, and the numbers are staggering.

As the economy continues to put a strain on our wallets, people are being forced to make extremely difficult decisions. What does hunger look like, you might ask?

  • It is your father-in-law who just got laid off and now struggles to pay his mortgage and put food on the table.
  • It is your elderly neighbor who must choose between buying groceries and heating her home.
  • It is your child’s classmate who goes to school each day without lunch and is too embarrassed to ask for help.

Adults who suffer from hunger live shorter, less healthy, and less happy lives. They are more likely to be obese, more prone to mental illness, and more susceptible to deadly diseases. Hunger is terrible for adults, but it’s so much worse for children.

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Hunger and malnourishment go hand-in-hand, and kids who miss out on essential nutrients during their critical years of growth will be dramatically disadvantaged for the remainder of their lives. 1 in 6 American children go to bed hungry each night.

According to the Food Research and Action Center, hungry children have compromised immune systems and are two to four times as likely as nourished children to develop health problems—ranging from the relatively minor to potentially fatal. Childhood hunger also impairs cognitive development. Kids who don’t have enough to eat do worse academically, do worse socially, and risk becoming so impacted—even by only temporary food insecurity—that recovery becomes impossible.

Most people tend to think about hunger during the holiday season. We see a ton of food drives occur right around Thanksgiving. But what happens during the rest of the year? Food insecurity is a year-round issue affecting millions of families and individuals across the country.

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The summer months are the most difficult time for our nation’s food banks. During the school year, hungry children get the majority of their daily calories from free or reduced price school lunches. When school is out of session, those calories must come from somewhere else. There are summer meal programs, but over 13 million children face a greater risk of hunger during the summer because those programs are difficult to access and underfunded.

Thankfully, the summer is also the busiest season for the moving industry, so Move For Hunger has a great opportunity to fill the shelves of our communities’ food banks. Move For Hunger works to rescue food from people’s homes that would otherwise be thrown away and get it to local food banks where it’s needed.

Want to make a difference?

Click here to Get Involved in our fight against hunger.

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‘My experience as a woman in tech has been difficult and wonderful’

‘My experience as a woman in tech has been difficult and wonderful’

By: Jenny Darmody

From using data to make a difference in non-profits, to her experience of ‘gaslighting’, Karen Taggart shares her career story and her experience as a woman in tech.

When it comes to diversity and inclusion in the tech industry, we still have a long way to go.

Despite the gender gap being one of the most talked about diversity issues in the industry, women in tech still have countless stories of how their experience differs to their male counterparts – be that in pay, treatment or perception.

Karen Taggart is a customer success manager for CloudBees. She has had an extensive and successful career within the tech sphere, particularly within DevOps and data analytics.

Taggart told Siliconrepublic.com that her experience as a woman working in tech has been both difficult and wonderful. It took a long time before she realised that previous things she had experienced were due to gender discrimination.

But she also spoke highly of her overall experience, meeting countless intelligent, funny and innovative individuals from all backgrounds throughout her career.

While she said she couldn’t picture working in any other industry, it wasn’t necessarily clear from her early years that tech was where she was heading.

Tell me a bit about your career background

Sometimes it is difficult to explain my résumé. When I graduated from college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I had planned on going to law school and getting a master’s in public policy, but decided to put that plan on hold for a bit and just start working.

I moved to Washington DC and looked for entry-level jobs with non-profit organisations. I ended up working in the fundraising department for a non-profit, which they call development (not to be confused with software development).

In my first job, they needed a database to keep track of major donors, so I taught myself Access and created the system. It was the early ’90s, so databases were nowhere near as complicated and powerful as they are now.

From there, I moved more into direct marketing fundraising – direct mail, telemarketing and eventually online. This is where my interest in data really began to develop and I got more involved in database marketing, list segmentation and marketing analytics. I then began working at a direct marketing agency that targeted non-profits and political candidates.

After taking a few years to earn my master’s in education and teach eighth-grade history, I returned to direct marketing and began focusing more on email and social media, where the possibility of combining data and strategy was really exploding. However, I was finding that many of the organisations I was working with did not have the systems they needed to collect the data I wanted.

So, I joined the team at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to help improve some of their CRM systems and practices. Through that work, I realised I didn’t want to just work on the existing systems, but instead wanted to play a role in creating better solutions. I began working at ROI Solutions, a woman-owned-and-run CRM provider for non-profits, as a business analyst, where I spent much of my time working on third-party integrations.

While at ROI, I started a book club. The second book we read was The Phoenix Projectand it blew my mind. From that point forward, I became a bit obsessed with not just helping build better software for users, but delivering it to them. As my interest in DevOps grew, I stumbled upon CloudBees and quickly knew it was the place for me.

You have done a lot of work in the past for non-profits, what was that like?

Working with non-profits is wonderful! They are full of some of the smartest, most dedicated, inventive people you will ever meet. Because they have to be so budget-conscious, many find new ways of doing things with technology.

When you work with non-profits, you get exposed to all aspects of business. While working in this field, I worked on projects in areas such as marketing analytics, API and web services integrations, credit card processing, financial reporting, database architecture, sales, proposal writing, strategic planning, and solution selection.

‘When I felt like I just couldn’t do it any more, I would remind myself why I was doing the work I was doing’
– KAREN TAGGART

The best part of working with non-profits was the end result – campaigns I worked on helped house people suffering from floods, bring medical resources to regions suffering from Ebola, win the fight for marriage equality in the US, release political prisoners, elect officials to office who support women’s reproductive rights and stop the suffering of countless animals.

After a hard day at work, when I felt like I just couldn’t do it any more and was asked to do the impossible, I would remind myself why I was doing the work I was doing.

How have you seen data analysis change over your time in the industry?

When I began working with data, the sets were so small and simple that it was possible to get by with basic statistics skills and the ability to do a few charts in Excel. That has all changed.