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Hacking Hunger

Hidden, human stories about food on the front lines of hunger. Produced by World Food Program USA.

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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Episode 21: A Lifesaving Legacy Under Threat

Republicans and Democrats don’t agree on much these days, but hunger has always been different. For decades, Congress and the White House have worked together to feed families around the world. M.J. talks to former Senator Tom Daschle about why this American legacy must endure — even as war, climate change and four looming famines threaten millions of families across the globe.


1 Aug 2017

Rank #1

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Episode 14: Inside a Syrian Kitchen

Journalist Dalia Mortada may have been born and raised in the U.S., but she grew up in a Syrian kitchen. As a child, she savored aromas and flavors like orange blossom, tamarind syrup and cardamom -- tastes that would define her childhood and seal her identity as a Syrian-American. M.J. talks to Dalia about the inspiration behind her new project, Savoring Syria, and how she’s using food to spark a deeper conversation about a country torn apart by conflict.


18 Nov 2016

Rank #2

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Episode 38: It All Started With An Insight: How Feeding the World is at Your Fingertips

ShareTheMeal is a WFP app that enables people to donate food with just a tap of their fingers. In episode 38 of Hacking Hunger, we sat down with Max Costa, head of ShareTheMeal, and Nishkam Mehta, a super user, to learn the impact the app has had, and what’s in store for its future. 


22 Nov 2019

Rank #3

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Episode 20: The Forgotten Food Waste Crisis

In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, farmers can expect to lose nearly half of their harvest before it even leaves the farm. M.J. talks to the World Food Programme’s Brett Rierson about why — and how “tupperware for crops” could change the way the world’s small-scale farmers do business.


26 Jun 2017

Rank #4

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Episode 39: On the Frontlines: A Yemeni Aid Worker on What It’s Like to Live Through the World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis

In the last few years, Mohammed Ghanim has become all too familiar with the struggles of war. A program officer for WFP, Mohammed lives and works in Yemen, site of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. He is also from Yemen, born and raised – and like every other Yemeni, he has not been immune to the consequences of conflict. Yet, despite the tremendous hardship he continues to face, Mohammed remains dedicated to helping his neighbors in urgent need. Inspired his commitment, we asked Mohammed about the reality of living in Yemen during difficult time, how WFP is working to help, and how he finds hope for his country’s future, even in the middle of war.


18 Dec 2019

Rank #5

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Episode 32: The Magic of a Meal: How School Feeding Transforms

Homegrown school feeding is not only transforming the lives of students, but entire communities. We sat down with Carmen Burbano de Lara, WFP director of school feeding, and Amy Blauman, who manages WFP’s homegrown school feeding program in Rwanda, to learn more. 


20 Mar 2019

Rank #6

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Episode 45: How Innovation Can Help Solve Hunger During a Pandemic

As the COVID-19 spreads, innovation and technology is needed more to reach people in need. In this episode of Hacking Hunger, Bernhard Kowatsch, head of WFP's Innovation Accelerator, explains how the program is working to support WFP's pandemic response.


29 Apr 2020

Rank #7

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Episode 5: The Zero Hunger Generation

Millennials are the largest and most educated generation in the U.S. Today, they outnumber baby boomers by nearly 8 million people. And the United Nations has tasked this generation with tackling one of the biggest challenges of our time - ending hunger by 2030. We talk with five students of the “Zero Hunger Generation” who attended last month’s Universities Fighting World Hunger summit in Missouri about who they are, what they believe, and what they’re doing to rise to the occasion. One of these students is Cedric Habiyaremye, whose childhood as a former refugee led him to a career in agriculture.


18 Mar 2016

Rank #8

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Episode 25: Inside the World’s Largest Refugee Camp

When violence in Myanmar sparked a mass exodus last August, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled for the border. Today, the Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh has become the world’s largest refugee camp, hosting more than 1 million people. M.J. talks to one aid worker who’s been on the ground since the beginning of the crisis—and hears about a new threat that now looms.


14 Feb 2018

Rank #9

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Episode 17: A Love Story That Is Feeding the World

Lovebirds Poonam Kaushal and Nishkaam Mehta are getting hitched this Valentine’s Day. Instead of throwing a big wedding, they teamed up with friends, family and perfect strangers to create an unconventional wedding gift using the world’s first hunger-fighting smartphone app. As they prepare to tie the knot in four days, M.J. talks to Poonam and Nishkaam about their “Million Meals for Love” campaign and explains how you can be part of their big day by changing the life of a hungry child.


10 Feb 2017

Rank #10

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Episode 29: A Storytellers Farewell

In her final episode as host, M.J. Altman turns the mic over to three women in Guatemala, Chad and Jordan who share their own stories in their own languages as part of a unique project from the U.N. World Food Programme known as Storytellers.


25 Jun 2018

Rank #11

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Episode 36: Hunger and Rain: The Story of The Dry Corridor

The tale of the Dry Corridor is one that’s becoming all too familiar. It’s one of extreme weather and desperation, hunger, drought and rain. The Dry Corridor is the nickname given to a region in Central America that’s been suffering from erratic weather patterns fueled by climate change. For the past five years, it’s been devastating crops, and driving migration and hunger. In this podcast, we spoke with Elio Rujano, a WFP communications officer based in Panama. He has witnessed firsthand the impact climate change is having on families in the Dry Corridor who are already struggling to survive.


8 Oct 2019

Rank #12

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Episode 3: On the Front Lines of Hunger and War in Syria

We speak with Dina el-Kassaby, one of the WFP's Communications Officers based in Cairo, about how the conflicts in Syria and Iraq have impacted ordinary families throughout the region.


12 Dec 2015

Rank #13

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Episode 4: A Slow-Motion Disaster in Ethiopia

A historic drought is sweeping Ethiopia and more than 10 million people have been pushed into hunger. We talk with two humanitarians in Ethiopia—John Aylieff from the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) and Dianna Darsney de Salcedo from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the single largest donor to WFP's Ethiopia operations—to hear how families are coping with one of the worst droughts in decades. We also hear from Abebe Haregewoin, an Ethiopian man who is raising money from his home in Silver Spring, Maryland to help WFP feed people in his homeland. Music: Mulatu Astatke, The Story of Ethio Jazz, "Yekermo Sew"; Girma Yifrashewa, Love and Peace, "The Shepherd with the Flute" 


19 Feb 2016

Rank #14

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Episode 10: Empower a Woman, Feed a Generation

If women farmers had the same access to resources like capital, markets and training as their male counterparts, the number of hungry people worldwide could drop by nearly 20 percent, according to the United Nations. M.J. talks to Lisa Curtis, co-founder of Kuli Kuli Foods, about how building a U.S. market for a “miracle crop” called moringa is empowering women farmers in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities to grow, sell and consume what some believe could be the next kale or quinoa.


6 Sep 2016

Rank #15

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Episode 11: Pinpointing Hunger with Mobile Phones

When violence or natural disaster strikes vulnerable communities, good data on the hunger that often results can be hard to come by. For aid workers, knowing where food is scarce and how families are coping is crucial to alleviate suffering. M.J. talks to Jean-Martin Bauer, founder of the World Food Programme’s mobile Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (mVAM) unit, about how mobile phones in the most remote and dangerous corners of our world are changing how we understand and fight hunger.


16 Sep 2016

Rank #16

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Episode 28: Survival in the Sahel

The Sahel of Africa has always been an unforgiving landscape, but now families in the region are facing two growing threats at the same time: Climate change and conflict. Boko Haram’s campaign of terror has displaced thousands of people as farmers and pastoralists clash over access to shrinking land. M.J. takes you to Niger, a country in the Sahel where families are fighting for their lives—and a better future for their children.


31 May 2018

Rank #17

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Episode 7: Breaking Through a Besieged Community in Syria

In a besieged town in Syria earlier this year, families had been boiling grass to survive when word spread that the first delivery of food and medicine to reach the area in 18 months was on its way. But when this humanitarian convoy was blocked at a government checkpoint, the fate of tens of thousands of Syrians fell hostage to the whims of a single army commander. Hear from WFP’s Country Director in Syria who was on the convoy about what happened next and learn how a displaced Syrian aid worker is struggling to feed families cut off from aid. Go behind the scenes with these two humanitarians as we reveal the logistical challenges they face when trying to deliver food in one of the most dangerous and volatile countries in the world.


8 Jun 2016

Rank #18

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Episode 8: Seven Million Meals and Counting

At a time when smartphone users outnumber the world’s hungry children by 20 to 1, humanitarian organizations are crowdsourcing creative ideas and solutions to harness technology in the fight against global hunger. That’s why some of the brightest minds in tech innovation joined last week’s launch of the UN World Food Programme’s first-ever Innovation Accelerator. Hear from one of them: Sebastian Stricker, the co-founder of WFP’s award-winning mobile app ShareTheMeal. Learn how it has inspired people around the world to share more than 7 million meals with hungry families across the Middle East since its launch last fall.


20 Jul 2016

Rank #19

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Episode 30: A Nation on the Brink of Famine

Years of conflict have pushed Yemen to the edge of famine. There are 8 million people in the country suffering from severe hunger, and intensifying violence could bring this number to 12 million. WFP’s Yemen Country Director, Stephen Anderson, talks about his experience on the ground in Yemen. He shares the stories of Yemenis struggling to feed their families, and how WFP is doing whatever it takes to deliver food and nutrition to the people who need it the most.


18 Oct 2018

Rank #20