Thanksgiving in the United States is a time when we not only enjoy a bounty of good food and drink—and the company of those important to us—but also when we pause and reflect on what we are grateful to have in our lives.

As we head into the holiday I am particularly grateful to all of the Junior Leagues that are working to eradicate hunger and food insecurity in this country and elsewhere around the world. Our efforts began with The Junior League of Brooklyn, which in 1910 identified a need for free lunches in public schools, petitioned the Board of Education to provide them, and created a model for school lunches everywhere that is replicated to this day.

Today I am grateful for Leagues like The Junior League of Collin County, and its community garden project, Plano Provides, which has supplied countless tons of fresh vegetables to food pantries. I’m grateful to Leagues like The Junior League of Hartford, for Fresh Place, a collaboration with community and academic partners that addresses chronic hunger in Hartford in a comprehensive way, and I’m grateful for The Junior League of Orlando’s work on Senate Bill 852, which provides critical financing to help fresh-food retailers enter underserved, low-income communities. It also supports renovation and expansion of existing stores so they can provide the healthy foods that communities want and need.

Like so many other organizations around the world, we are working to solve the problem of hunger at the grassroots level, not only working directly with those in need, but also to devise systems that communities can implement to care for the hungry. Yet there remain 50 million hungry people in this country alone.

As I celebrate this important holiday I celebrate the measurable difference we are making. But I cannot forget that our work is not yet done.

Susan E. Danish
Executive Director
The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc.