Expertise: Poverty, food policy
Joel Berg is a Senior Fellow at American Progress. He is a nationally recognized leader in the fields of hunger and food security, national and community service, and technical assistance provision to faith-based and community organizations. He is also author of the book, All You Can Eat: How Hungry is America? The book challenges the president and Congress to make hunger eradication a top priority—and offers them a simple and affordable plan to end it for good.
Berg has led the New York City Coalition Against Hunger since 2001, which represents the more than 1,200 nonprofit soup kitchens and food pantries in New York City and the more than 1.4 million low-income New Yorkers who are forced to use them. The coalition works to meet the immediate food needs of low-income New Yorkers and to enact innovative solutions to help them move “beyond the soup kitchen” to self-sufficiency.
Prior to his work with the coalition, Berg served for eight years in the Clinton administration in senior executive service positions at USDA. For two years, he worked as USDA coordinator of community food security, a new position in which he created and implemented the first-ever federal initiative to better enable faith-based and other nonprofit groups to fight hunger, bolster food security, and help low-income Americans move out of poverty.
He worked as USDA coordinator of food recovery and gleaning the previous two years, working with community groups to increase the amount of food recovered, gleaned, and distributed to hungry Americans. Also while at the USDA, he served as director of national service, director of public liaison, and as acting director of public affairs and press secretary.
From 1989 to 1993, he served as a policy analyst for the Progressive Policy Institute and a domestic policy staff member for then President-elect Bill Clinton’s transition team. Berg has published widely on the topics of hunger, national and community service, and grassroots community partnerships, including a recent white paper on food jobs for the Progressive Policy Institute.
A native of Rockland County, New York, and a 1986 graduate of Columbia University, Berg now resides in Brooklyn. He is the past winner of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture’s Honor Award for Superior Service and the Congressional Hunger Center’s Mickey Leland National Hunger Fighter Award.