Warren Buffett's son tackles hunger in rural America

Howard Buffett is involved in a new anti-hunger project in which farmers donate the profits from at least an acre of their land.
CBS News

(CBS News) DECATUR, Ill. - Billionaire Warren Buffett is well known for his charity work and so is his son Howard. On Thursday, Howard Buffett announced a new partnership to feed the needy with the food processing giant Archer Daniels Midland and Feeding America, a national hunger charity.

Howard Buffett owns a 3,000-acre farm in Decatur, Illinois. Atop his tractor, he can see America's "bounty." But not far from here, he sees folks with almost nothing.

"You're from one of the wealthiest families in America," Doane said to Buffett. "Do you really see [and] understand hunger?"

"No. I wouldn't understand hunger," responded Buffett, "because my kids have never been hungry. I've never put them to bed hungry. I've never been hungry. What I can understand is the humiliation, the frustration, even the embarrassment of some people who have to walk into a food bank for the first time and ask for help."

Buffett is well known for his anti-hunger efforts overseas. We met him this winter in Africa.

Howard Buffett: Farming and finance
Video: Buffett's farming crusade

Now he thinks he and his fellow farmers should pay attention to the need here at home.

"I went and visited food banks," he said. "I started to see a picture that I don't think a lot of Americans see: Millions of our neighbors that don't have enough food to eat on a regular basis.

The "Invest an Acre" program that Buffett announced Thursday will allow the 80,000 farmers who use processing plants run by Archer Daniels Midland to donate the profits from at least an acre of their land.

The profits from this acre of corn might be only around $100 or $200, but $100 is enough to help provide 800 food bank meals. So multiply that acre after acre after acre -- and that could make a real difference in these communities.

The money will go to thousands of Feeding America food pantries primarily in the Midwest. Buffett's foundation will cover up to $3 million in administrative costs.

The goal is to help people including Richard Roof, an out-of-work plumber. He picked up a box from a Decatur pantry. It's one day he doesn't have to ask his grown kids for food.

"What would you do without a program like this here?" Doane asked Roof.


"It's that simple?"

"Plain and simple."

Howard Buffet said: "I don't think the level of hunger in this country is acceptable. Not for the kind of society that we are. It is absolutely not acceptable."

What is acceptable, said Buffett, is planting seeds for a solution -- one acre at a time.