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Food is Only a Small Portion of What Feed the Children Distributes

Published 04/01/2005

Feed the Children (FC), an AIP F-rated charity that spends only 18% of its cash budget on program services and spends 60% on direct mail and television and radio ads, has been enormously successful obtaining gifts in kind. In fiscal 2004 FC received $865 million in donated goods, a 79% increase from fiscal 2003. 64% of its in kind donations came from three corporations, according to FC’s fiscal 2004 audit.

FC has repeatedly declined to fulfill AIP’s request to disclose what it is actually distributing to which specific charities. Finally, in February of this year FC did disclose to us in a letter the basic categories and amounts of $796 million worth of goods distributed. This letter did not cite the time frame in which the distribution occurred and omitted any information on which charities received the goods, saying, “Our policy to not disclose the names of the charities that we distribute to is fully compliant with nonprofit law.” FC cited privacy as their reason for not disclosing who received the goods. This would be an understandable concern if we had requested the names of people who had received the goods. Since AIP is asking only for the names of charities, not individuals, AIP does not believe that providing such information violates anyone’s privacy.

Donors should be cautious not to read too much into a charity’s name—Feed the Children’s distribution of “assorted food,” “produce,” and “beverages” accounts for only 14% of the total distributed. By not disclosing more specifically what types of in-kind food or drink are distributed, there is no way of knowing how much of it is non-nutritious or empty-calorie foods, such as soda pop and chips (Frito Lay is a “corporate partner” of FC). The biggest category of distribution is “medical” at 66%. After food, the next largest categories cited are “miscellaneous” at 9% and “books” at 5%. Knowing which charities received these goods could give the public insight as to whether or not these items are used to benefit children or others in need.

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