Meals for Millions, Soy, and Freedom from Hunger

William Shurtleff, Akiko AoyagiISBN: 978-1928914-32-7

Publication Date: 2011 Feb. 8

Number of References in Bibliography: 373

Earliest Reference: 1900

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Brief Chronology of Meals for Millions, Soy, Freedom from Hunger Foundation
The Meals for Millions Foundation was a pioneer in introducing the world to the high nutritional value, high protein content, and low cost of soy from 1946 to 1983.
1900 Aug. 3 – Clifford Edmond Clinton is born in Berkeley, California, the third of ten children (nine survived childhood). His parents are both devout Christians and active in the Salvation Army. They live in Berkeley and own (and manage) a restaurant named Dennets in San Francisco.
1905 – Clifford Clinton travels to China (for the first time) with his missionary parents and 2-3 sisters – they are supported by their restaurant. They return to California in 1906 to rebuild the restaurant which was destroyed by the San Francisco earthquake and fire. Clifford was too young to remember much about this trip (Donald Clinton, Dec. 2010).
1910 – With the family restaurant business again profitable, the Clinton family (except for little Anna, who stayed home with Grandma Hall) returns to China, but this time to south China and the area just west of Canton. The family works at a Christian orphanage for the blind. Clifford, age 10, is now able to understand much more about daily life in China – and he is deeply moved by what he sees. His job is to go around each morning to collect the blind baby girls that have been left outdoors to die (girls are considered more expendable than boys) and to bring them back to the orphanage. He also sees the hunger and starvation around him. After the Boxer Rebellion (1898-1900), it was a time of chaos and disorder in China, with banditry and vandalism and all sorts of danger. The family returns to California in 1912. Clifford makes a boyhood vow that if he could ever do anything to help hungry people, he would do it (Donald Clinton, Dec. 2010; Henry Borsook 1979).
1915 – Clifford Clinton leaves high school to work as a storekeeper in one of his family’s restaurants in San Francisco; he rose to supervising manager of all six restaurants by 1925. He eventually becomes one of the three partners of the Clinton Cafeteria Co. (Kuzins 1984).
1920 Sept. 7 – Clifford Clinton and Nelda Patterson are married in Berkeley, California. She was his lifelong active partner and a pillar of strength in all his endeavors (Donald Clinton, Dec. 2010).
1931 – Clifford Clinton and with his wife move from San Francisco to Los Angeles to establish a new kind of restaurant. Their three children – Edmond (born in 1921), Jean (1923), and Donald (1926) – follow six months later (Donald Clinton, Dec. 2010).
1931 July – Clifton’s Cafeteria: The Cafeteria of the Golden Rule, opens at 618 S. Olive St. in downtown Los Angeles. As a result of his experience in China, he decides to apply a principle of “practical Christianity” and never to refuse a meal to a person who could not afford to pay for it. It soon became a written policy: “No guest need go hungry for lack of funds.” Since the Great Depression is beginning to gain momentum, there are many residents of Los Angeles who fall into this category. In the first 90 days, 10,000 free meals are served to those who could not pay (Donald Clinton, Feb. 2011).
1932 Oct. 10 – Clinton opens his Penny Cafeteria in the basement of a building at Third and Hill Streets –in the depths of the Depression. About two million meals were fed there during the two years that it was open (E.M.S. 1946).
1935 – Clifton’s Brookdale is opened at 7th and Broadway (over 40,000 square feet, 5 floors, at 648 South Broadway) in Los Angeles. Its interior is reminiscent of the California redwood groves with waterfalls and brooks inside.
1937-1938 – Clifford Clinton is deeply involved in a campaign to clean up Los Angeles politics (Time magazine, 27 June 1938; Clifton’s Food for Thot, 12 March 1970).
1939 – The first Clifton’s Cafeteria is remodeled on a tropical island theme and renamed “Clifton’s Pacific Seas.”
1942 Sept. 14 – Article in Time magazine titled “California: Clinton’s Big Job.” The record number of paid meals served in one day at his two “fantastic cafeterias” is 26,000. He has 600 employees but he calls them associates. A remarkable list of employee benefits is given.
1944 Jan. 1 – Clifford Clinton writes Ernest Chamberlain from Washington D.C. asking him to try find a biochemist who could (and would) develop a food product which would provide complete nutrition (protein, vitamins, and minerals) except for calories / carbohydrates, in a compact form that would be inexpensive [3-5 cents per serving] – and which could be added to normal deficient diets without changing their accustomed flavor, etc. Clinton describes 12 essential characteristics of proposed new food. Chamberlain soon finds Dr. Henry Borsook, a professor of biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena (Chamberlain 1971).
1944 May 22 – Clifford Clinton, his wife Nelda, and Ernest Chamberlain visit Dr. Henry Borsook at Caltech. Nelda begins by apologizing for her husband’s “perfectly ridiculous proposal.” Clifford Clinton reviews his specifications, adding that a meal should “cost not more than three cents.” After making two adjustments (concerning total calories and vitamin C), Dr. Borsook says that he can make such a food for no more than 3 cents a meal. Clifford Clinton signs the agreement with Dr. Henry Borsook and Caltech to develop the new food with the proviso that the formula should be free to the world. Clinton pays $5,000 of his own money to fund the new research project. Later, the California Dehydrators Assoc. joined in the sponsorship with equal funding. The goal of the project is to develop a new type of low-cost food; its first use would be in Clinton’s cafeterias in Los Angeles (Chamberlain 1971. Borsook 1979).
1944 Nov. 28Life magazine does a major article on Clifton’s Pacific Seas cafeteria in Los Angeles. The 5-cent meal includes “Vita-Meal,” which contains soybeans (p. 102-05).
1944 Dec. – Two of the new products, based on defatted soy grits, are being dehydrated and mixed by dehydrating companies in Los Angeles. One was a soup mix made by the Boltz Mfg. Co. The other was made by the Gentry Company. Clinton tried both products in his restaurants. He chose the Gentry product because it was more versatile and economical.
1945 April 5 – Results of the election for mayor of Los Angeles are announced. Fletcher Bowron wins. Clifford Clinton finishes a distant second, with 22,181 votes, about 10,000 behind Bowron (Oxnard Press Courier, p. 6).
1945 May 12Business Week writes that “Vitameal” is on the menu of Clifton’s Cafeteria. Dr. Borsook, professor of biochemistry at Caltech, developed the new food and referred to it as “multipurpose meal.” George Mardikian, owner of San Francisco’s Omar Khayyam Restaurant, is in charge of food arrangements at the United Nations Conference in San Francisco. He makes sure that the new “mystery food” is served each day to delegates at the Opera House – a stew today, a soup tomorrow, and an entree the next day (p. 22-24).
1945 May – Dr. Henry Borsook describes his new development as “A nutritionally-adequate, low-cost Multi-Purpose Meal” – the first time this term is used.
1945 Sept. – “How to Help Feed Europe’s Hungry,” by Paul de Kruif, appears in Reader’s Digest. It discusses “Meals for Millions,” founder Clifford E. Clinton, and “multi-purpose meal” (p. 50-52).
1945 Oct. 21 – A short letter to the editor in the Los Angeles Times first mentions “multi-purpose food” (p. E13).
1945 Dec. – “To Feed World’s Starving Peoples: M.P.M. Five-Cent Soy Meal,” published in Soybean Digest (p. 14).
1946 July 5 – Meals for Millions Foundation (MFM) is incorporated in Los Angeles, California, as a private, nonprofit, nonsectarian organization. The founders are Clifford E. Clinton, Florence Rose, Ernest R. Chamberlain, Edmond J. Clinton, II (Clifford’s eldest son), Ransom Callicott, and Dr. Henry Borsook (who is Director of Research). The foundation has no endowment. Its startup capital is $40,000 pledged by Clifford Clinton. Its goal is to help relieve the severe hunger in many countries after World War II. Its offices are located on the top floor of Clifton’s Brookdale at 648 South Broadway; Clifford Clinton donated this space to MFM for about 10 years (1946-1956). MFM’s staff immediately hits upon the deceptively simple tactic of offering MPF free to agencies and individuals engaged in relief activities (Roberts 1967, p. 54).
1946 July 17 – “Full Steak Dinner for Only 3 Cents! – Boston Samples M.P.M. Equivalent” published in Christian Science Monitor. This is the first article that gives the cost of such a meal as 3 cents. “M.P.M.” stands for “Multi-Purpose Meal.”
1946 Aug. 1 – Eleanor Roosevelt, uses her nationwide column “My Day,” to praise Clifford Clinton and his new food.
1949 Dec. – “Mr. Clinton stops starvation: By inventing 3-cent meal, a Californian spearheads man’s fight against hunger,” by Pearl Buck is published in United Nations World (p. 25-28). It praises Clifford E. Clinton, Meals for Millions, and Multi-purpose Food. Pearl Buck (the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize) so greatly admired Clifford Clinton and his work that in 1951 she wrote a novel titled God’s Men, in which one of the main characters (Clem) is based on Clifford Clinton.
1954 April 19 – Maurice Abrams, who has flown to Washington, DC, from Brazil, signs an agreement with MFM officials to make soy-based MPF in Brazil to feed hungry and malnourished Brazilians. He starts production in June 1956 (Roberts 1967, p. 223-56).
1954 July 10 – Public Law 480 –The Agricultural Trade and Assistance Act – is signed into law in Washington, DC. Its helps to pay for some of MFM’s shipping expenses.
1955 – The Meals for Millions Association of India is formed. India’s Minister of Agriculture is its first president. Prime Minister Nehru authorized funds for the initial pilot plant now operating at the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) at Mysore (Rose 1958, p. 74-76).
1957 Feb. 22 – Meals for Millions has moved out of Clifton’s Brookdale cafeteria (at 648 S. Broadway) and is now at 115 West 7th St. (between Main and Spring), Los Angeles – around the corner, less than 2 blocks away (Los Angeles Times, “Freedoms Foundation…,” p. 2, 11).
1959 Dec. 1 – General Mills begins to manufacture and sell Multi-Purpose Food, replacing Gentry Foods. Partially defatted soy grits are replaced by fully defatted soy grits. (Wall Street Journal, Oct. 14).
1960 – From Sept. 1946 to June 1960 (13 years and 9 months) 62 million meals of MPF have been distributed worldwide, including 3,429 relief shipments to 127 countries through 210 cooperating agencies. The countries that have received the most MPF are (in descending order of amount), India, Korea, Japan, China, Germany, France, The Philippines, and Haiti (Meals for Millions Foundation. “Friendship Food for a Hungry World: Distribution summary.” 29 p.).
1963 May – Meals for Millions compiles a second, updated summary of distribution. 12.8 million pounds comprising 102.6 million meals have been distributed to date.
1964 July to 1965 – A dramatic upheaval in MFM leadership takes place; Florence Rose is ousted as executive director, Ernest Chamberlain resigns as co-director, and Clifford Clinton retires as president. It is soon followed by equally radical changes in the internal and overseas operations of the foundation. Above all, in 1965 MFM switched from being primarily a distributor of relief food to helping others to help themselves in food processing and production, and to technology transfer (Roberts 1967, p. 258).
1967 March – “The Meals for Millions Foundation: a Study of a Non-Governmental Organization,” by Hibbert Rice Roberts (288 leaves) is submitted as a PhD thesis in political science at the University of Washington. As of Feb. 2011, it is by far the single best study of the organization and its history.
1967 July 9 – Meals for Millions’ headquarters, pilot plant, training center and classroom are now located at 1800 Olympic Boulevard, Santa Monica, California.
(Los Angeles Times, p. WS12)
1969 – The earliest known annual report (for the year 1968) is published. Col. I.F. Saunders is executive director.
1969 Aug. 7 – “A Tribute to Florence Rose,” who died on 26 April 1969, is published in Food for Thot. The first half of this fine obituary and biography is by Clifford Clinton, the second half, “A Letter to Florence,” is by Ernest R. Chamberlain
1969 Nov. 20 – Clifford Clinton dies peacefully at his home in Los Angeles. His life and work have inspired many.
1970 March 13 – “In Memory of Clifford E. Clinton, our Founder” is published in Food for Thot. This is the single best biography of this remarkable man.
1973 Feb. – MFM starts its first extrusion cooking project by testing the practicability of texturizing protein in a simple apparatus – later used for many years in Korea.
1974 – Meals for Millions has a new logo – a plant growing out of mounded soil in a bowl which is half of a globe. Below that: "Self-help for a hungry world."
1976 – Peter J. Davies is appointed president of MFM. He has a wealth of experience in economic development and administrative skills having worked in India, Thailand and Brazil. He makes his headquarters at the new MFM office in New York City where many of the board members and related agencies are located, but spends considerable time in California. During his eight years as president, Davies makes many important, basic changes. Also in 1976 MFM begins an applied nutrition program in Wonseong County, Korea.
1978 – MFM’s income (from donations and grants) first tops $1 million. This year MFM starts its 2nd applied nutrition program in Honduras
1979 March – The MFM Board of Trustees approves the organization becoming successor to the American Freedom from Hunger Foundation and changing its name to Meals for Millions / Freedom from Hunger
1979 April – Excellent interview titled “Henry Borsook – How It Was: Oral History,” is published in Engineering and Science (Caltech) (March/April, p. 23-29).
1980 – The last Multi-Purpose Food is made and distributed (by General Mills).
1982 Sept – MFM/FFH moves to Davis, California. On 20 March 1983 its new million-dollar international center is dedicated.
1983 – This is the last year that MFM/FFH has an involvement with soybeans. It is involved in making soymilk in Korea.
1985 April – MFM completes a $1.2 million campaign to fund its new international center in Davis, California. This included a $225,000 Challenge Grant from the Kresge Foundation. Thomas C. Veblen is now chair, board of trustees.
1988 Jan. – MFM/FFH shortens its name to “Freedom From Hunger Foundation." The new name better reflects the organization’s commitment to finding permanent solutions to hunger and malnutrition. That same month, Thomas R. McBurney becomes vice chair, board of trustees.
1988 Sept. – Christopher Dunford, Kathleen Stack, and Ellen Vor der Bruegge, upon returning from a trek to a program site in Nepal, recommend that Freedom from Hunger will focus on providing microfinance services combined with health/nutrition to very poor women. This proves to be a wise and crucial recommendation.
1988 Dec. – Freedom from Hunger makes its first credit association loan in Mali (Annual Report 1991)
1989 – Credit with Education begins. By 1994 Freedom from Hunger has such programs in six countries, serving 10,000 women.
1991 Feb. 1 – Christopher Dunford, PhD, becomes president of Freedom from Hunger Foundation. Thomas R. McBurney is the new chair, board of trustees. During the long term of these two visionary leaders, Freedom from Hunger will undergo a major, very positive, transformation.
1991 Sept. 20 – The word “Foundation” is officially dropped from the name of the organization.
1999 Nov. – Weldon H. Wasson replaces Thomas R. McBurney (“a modern Renaissance man”) as chair, board of trustees. But Thomas remains on as a trustee until Nov. 2005, when his term expires. He returns as a trustee in Nov. 2007 until his death in March 2009 (Annual Report 2000. Chris Dodson, Jan/Feb. 2011).
2005 Nov. 28 – Freedom from Hunger is awarded a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for $6 million over 4 years. It is the largest single grant Freedom from Hunger has ever received (Chris Dodson, 8 Feb. 2011).
2010 Nov. – Freedom from Hunger, a pioneer in integrating microfinance with nutrition and health education, now has 42 employees and annual operating revenues of about $7.5 million. Christopher Dunford, PhD, is president and J. Grover Thomas, Jr. is chair, board of trustees and executive committee. "At the close of fiscal 2010 we were reaching more than 2.4 million women plus their families – a total of 14 million people." For more, visit
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Click here to download the full text to open and read book Meals for Millions, Soy, and Freedom from Hunger