A rise in activism in the late 1950’s opened space for the pursuit of broad and sweeping change, including government intervention to address hunger. Television emerged as the dominant tool for communication and influence, particularly for powerful white men. The catalysts of policy change were often those who worked behind the scenes, many of them women, who tirelessly advocated for federal food programs and changed Americans’ understanding of hunger. Among those movements, Black Americans exposed the disparities in access to, and quality of, food assistance programs. Through this activism emerged a powerful government response to hunger.

The years after World War II saw rising standards of living and prosperity, mostly for white men and their families. Lack of access to this economic upswing for households headed by women, communities of color, and many in rural America reignited the birth of the Civil Rights Movement, the women’s rights movement, and a broader rise in activism. 

The social, cultural, and political activism of the 1960’s and 1970’s reframed access to food as fundamental to racial and gender equality and realized a robust response from the federal government that made ending hunger a very real possibility. Activists reframed hunger as an urgent matter of economic justice, racial justice, and equity. These advocates focused on the responsibility of the federal government, demanding reforms to address disparities in access to and quality of service in government food aid, resulting in an expansion of food assistance programs.