Twenty-three years ago, in a Louisville, Ky., cafeteria line, Stan Curtis watched a perfectly good pan of green beans replaced with a fresh one and then thrown away and thought, "Gee, I wonder if homeless people would like those green beans." With that, USA Harvest was born. His idea was simple: "We take food from people who have it and don't need it and give it to people who want it and don't have it," Curtis explains. All food is donated (USA Harvest operates with no annual budget) and delivered via groups -- shelters, missions, soup kitchens -- that help the less fortunate. Some 5,300 agencies operate in 130 cities across America, and with the help of 118,000 volunteers, two million meals are served each day.
To do even more for hungry kids, Curtis started Blessings in a Backpack, which distributes a weekend's worth of food in backpacks every Friday to public school children receiving federally funded meals. "The results are so astounding in terms of academics, self-esteem, attendance, and behavioral issues," Curtis says of his program. Still, he notes, "I would love to be out of business. That would mean people in America are not hungry, our school children are being paid attention to, and they have enough food to get an education."