By Sebastien Malo
NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Full-page advertisements are popping up in major U.S. newspapers offering to pick up Americans' dinner leftovers and deliver them to the needy, a farcical campaign designed to raise awareness of hunger, its organizers say.
"Our drivers deliver your leftovers to hungry Americans," the ads read, directing the curious to the Scraped Plate website that admits the offer is in jest.
But millions of people have taken the bait, visited the website and are learning about hunger in the process, said Melanie Kahn, national campaign director with Share Our Strength, the advocacy organization behind the campaign.
"The goal of the campaign was to make people think just a little bit harder about how much food they are throwing out on a daily basis," Kahn told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates 14 percent of Americans, or more than 17 million people, are what is called food insecure, meaning at times of the year, they are uncertain of being able to acquire enough food for their household, according to its website.
Ads for Scraped Plate have appeared in USA Today and The New York Times Magazine, eliciting some fans.
"I think it's a good idea being we don't eat leftovers in my house why throw it away," wrote one visitor on Scraped Plate's Facebook.
But not everyone is amused. One visitor left a comment that the idea was "gross," and another asked: "How can you run a FAKE FOOD BANK?"
The campaign encourages visitors to ask U.S. presidential candidates through social media what they will do to combat hunger.
Kahn said the purported offer to deliver leftovers to the hungry would obviously be untenable.
"It's not just not feasible to pack up in a doggy-bag what I don't eat and deliver it to someone else," she said.
(Reporting by Sebastien Malo, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)