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Ministry News

Children’s Hunger Fund Nearly Triples Revenue

“The growth has been intentional, but there is no way to discount God’s hand,” Dave Phillips, president of Children’s Hunger Fund (CHF) told MinistryWatch of the group’s tremendous growth over the last few years.

The ministry, whose focus is to partner with churches both in the United States and around the world to deliver food as a bridge to the Gospel, has seen its revenue nearly triple since 2016, from $49 million to $134 million.

According to its audited financial statement, the lion’s share—over $100 million in 2021—was in-kind contributions.

While CHF constantly reaches out to corporate sponsors for donations, Phillips said that, more often than not, God has used crises to grow the group’s corporate support.

Once they secure a one-time donation, corporate support often becomes ongoing.

About 3,000 truckloads of corporate contributions are sent to the ministry each year, 80% of which is food. CHF has a network of partner ministries it works with also to receive donations. For instance, it has received millions of donated toys that it then passed to Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child for the well-known gift boxes.

When he established the ministry in 1991 in California, Phillips expected to be a conduit between corporate America and the church to feed the hungry. That has been modified over the years into a home delivery model.

Currently CHF’s ministry in the United States is centered in California, Texas, and other parts of the Southwest.

The ministry partners with about 1,000 churches in impoverished areas who then deliver “food packs”—shoe boxes filled with ready-to-eat food—to children of needy families.

The purpose is to “take the conversation from the sidewalk into the home,” Phillips explained. It is intended to be a highly relational model where church members can get to know families, assess their needs, and serve them.

The conduit for Gospel hope is food delivered by the local church. “We exist to elevate the church,” he said, adding that CHF wants to be behind the scenes and invisible.

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In 2017, the CHF Executive Board asked Phillips for a vision of how the ministry would grow over the next 10 to 15 years. They established a 2030 growth initiative that included owning their distribution facilities debt-free and establishing a national rather than regional distribution model.

Over the next 18 months, CHF expects to extend its food pack delivery ministry nationwide. It is still working through the logistics of training church leaders and volunteers, but the widespread use of Zoom has made that more feasible, according to Phillips.

The ministry’s relationship with freight companies for discounted shipping rates is likely to ease the burden of getting the food packs delivered as it expands its reach.

Internationally, CHF is involved in food delivery with about 1,000 churches in 30 countries. In those regions, the challenge is not just feeding those in need, but helping them develop self-sufficiency.

CHF has created programs in Africa and Southeast Asia that allow families to generate income.

In Africa, families are given a pig and supplies to build a pig pen. Pig farming has become a cottage industry.

In Southeast Asia, land was purchased and made available for raising crops to take to market. Proceeds can be used to buy needed shoes or other clothing and to pay for education.

During the pandemic, CHF found itself uniquely positioned to help. Phillips once again credited God’s faithfulness and provision.

Even though CHF entered the pandemic in a poor financial situation, about $1 million short of its annual budget, Phillips reached out to donors who responded by giving generously. The result was a surplus of about $7 million.

“The conversation changed to how to steward the generosity,” Phillips said.

At the start of the pandemic, before knowing the disruption that was coming, Phillips said the distribution centers providentially had nine months of food pack inventory on hand.

With restaurants closed in the spring of 2020, Phillips was contacted by Nestle and Del Monte who wanted to donate their excess food. Del Monte offered up to 1800 pallets of food at times.

Not long before, CHF had set up a network of ministries across the country who could receive donations to be delivered to those in need.

Internationally, the ministry had to pivot to an in-country purchase model, but all the details worked so that “no one missed a delivery date,” Phillips said.

CHF sent salary stipends to 770 international pastors in need during the pandemic. The same day the money was wired to the pastors, a new donor sent enough funds to cover the amount expended on the pastor stipends.

“God used COVID supernaturally to serve His church,” Phillips said without reservation.

Phillips says he has seen God’s hand at work since he founded the ministry 30 years ago in his garage.

Early on, Phillips was amazed at a demonstration of God’s faithfulness. He had a relationship with missionaries in Honduras who were helping care for children with cancer. They alerted him that seven children were in need of a particular cancer drug. He had no idea where to find the drug, but immediately after hanging up the phone, Phillips said he received a call from a company that had 48,000 vials of the exact drug to donate. Not only did the Honduran children get the cancer drug, but patients in 20 countries around the world benefited from the donation.

“God demonstrated His vision for CHF was so much bigger, and that is what He’s done. The history and story of CHF is God’s story of faithfulness and provision,” Phillips emphasized.

Through all of the ministry’s growth, the mission has remained to “deliver hope.” And that is more than just food.

“The Gospel is central to everything we are doing,” he stressed. “The Gospel provides eternal hope. The best thing we can do is restore hope through the good news of Jesus.”

Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a freelance writer who holds a Juris Doctorate from Baylor University. She has home schooled her three children and is happily married to her husband of 25 years. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, gardening, and coaching high school extemporaneous speaking and debate.