Feeding America's Ice Cream Truck Roadtrip for Hunger Awareness

Sarah Steimer
Key Takeaways

What? Feeding America wanted to educate the U.S. on the uptick in childhood hunger between school years.

So what? The nonprofit worked with the Ad Council and Facebook Creative Shop to raise awareness with an ice cream truck that visited U.S. cities and could be followed on social media.

Now what? Marketers can combine physical and digital assets to pull in audiences both in person and online.

​Feeding America teamed up with the Ad Council and Facebook Creative Shop to send an ice cream truckacross the country to raise awareness of summertime childhood hunger


Summertime for kids is celebratory. Vacation from school means more time for popsicles, hot dogs and other summer treats—but not for all. Twenty-two million children receive free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program during the school year, but in the summer that number drops to fewer than 4 million.

Feeding America went on a mission to highlight this 18 million-child gap.

“Very few people have any real awareness of how many kids go hungry every summer,” says Catherine Davis, chief marketing and communications officer at Feeding America. The nonprofit partnered with the Ad Council, with help from Facebook Creative Shop, to create a mobile awareness campaign in the summer of 2017.


The “Hungry to Help” campaign was anchored by an ice cream truck, one of the most symbolic signs of summer for American children. The outside of the truck was painted with statistics about child hunger. Instead of serving ice cream, it distributed family action plans to raise awareness of hunger in the summer. The truck visited seven cities and traveled more than 3,800 miles.

The truck started in New York City, then passed through Cleveland, Chicago, St. Louis, Denver, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Its Facebook page chronicled the journey with updates from the road and an inside peek at local food banks in each city.

“Being able to livestream is one of the key features of Facebook that is particularly appealing to us,” Davis says. “It gave us the opportunity to focus on this from a national perspective but also from a local perspective. The livestreams reflected the personalities of the food banks.”

The videos showed volunteers and leaders giving tours of their respective facilities. Las Vegas’ Three Square Food Bank featured a young volunteer playing bagpipes for the camera, and a few celebrities—Leighton Meester, Adam Brody and Tiffani Thiessen—appeared at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.

Feeding America engaged with the audience during each of the videos, answering questions about how to connect with local food banks and providing national and local hunger statistics.

Davis says the goal of the engagement is to spark an emotional connection with viewers. “Not only with the idea of hunger, but the individuals facing hunger,” she says. “An objective of every campaign is to create empathy for the people who are hungry.”

Visitors to the campaign website can download the family action plan that includes conversation starters on the topic of hunger, community action ideas, a children’s activity sheet and a summer checklist to help end hunger. The landing page also provides additional statistics, links to local food banks and instructions for creating fundraisers.


Just as real ice cream trucks draw people out of their homes, the “Hungry to Help” campaign drew a robust and curious audience. Heidi Arthur, the Ad Council’s head of campaign development, says the campaign videos garnered more than 15 million views and drove more than 200,000 clicks to the campaign landing page. She says there was a 9% increase in Facebook ad recall lift, and polls of Facebook users who viewed the ads showed a 10% increase in intent to help end summertime child hunger.

Feeding America’s brand got attention as well. Arthur says when respondents were asked if they had seen information about Feeding America, their aided communication awareness was at an all-time high during the campaign in June (30%). The organization averaged less than half of that (10%-14%) from 2013 to 2016. “People’s passion for hunger has increased in the last 18 months to 2 years,” Davis says. “We’re at this really interesting moment where people are more receptive to our messaging.”

The nonprofit doesn’t plan to do another ice cream truck road trip this year, but it does plan to continue efforts to end child hunger with another large push this summer.

“This year, millions more kids and their families will struggle to fill the summer meal gap,” Arthur says. “As we look ahead to summer 2018, we will again develop a social and digital effort that aims to raise awareness and drive empathy for hungry children across the country.”

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Sarah Steimer
Sarah Steimer is a staff writer for the AMA's magazines and e-newsletters. She may be reached at ssteimer@ama.org or on Twitter at @sarah_steimer.


Displaying 1 Comments
Ida Wallace
March 23, 2018

thanks. https://www.asdf.org/