Our Champions: 5 Questions with Chef Hugh Acheson

Hugh Acheson is a chef, restaurant owner, TV personality and No Kid Hungry champion living in Athens, Ga. Hugh’s restaurants 5&10, Empire State South and by George pay homage to the rich history and diverse cultures that exist in the American South. We met Hugh in 2011 and he’s since been actively engaged in our efforts. Hugh has notably advocated on multiple occasions on Capitol Hill and represented No Kid Hungry at conferences and events like he National Governors Association Conference and the National Conference of State Legislators. We’re proud to feature him today.

You have been a long-time supporter of No Kid Hungry. Why is hunger important to you and what has shaped your passion for this cause?
I live in a community with a high poverty rate, and I have always been a huge proponent of good public education. Here in Athens, I’ve worked with schools to help fill gaps in education around food skills and nutrition education. Seeing the endemic issues of hunger and poor nutrition has been eye opening. I firmly believe that every kid deserves a chance at a good life and that is directly tied to how they eat. 

You’ve supported the No Kid Hungry campaign in so many ways -- through advocacy, media and more. Do you have a favorite story or experience working with No Kid Hungry?

Visiting the Hill with No Kid Hungry and meeting directly with Senators was very engaging to me. It showed how chefs can use our position to inform our elected officials about the issues we care about and make it an imperative for them to act.  

You’re recognized as both chef and activist -- and you aren’t afraid to speak up for causes that strike a chord for you. Where does this activist streak come from and how does it fit into your role as a restaurateur?

I grew up being taught to speak my mind, call out injustice and have empathy for others. It is a pretty simple creed. 

The culinary industry is changing so rapidly. How do you see the role of chefs evolving in the coming years? 

Restaurants play an important role in local communities ‒ as places of employment, gathering and celebration. Chefs should be informed leaders creating good environments both inside our restaurants and within our communities. We have clout and would be remiss to not use it for good. 

Finally, you are known to many people in the culinary industry as a trusted leader and mentor. What’s one piece of wisdom you can share with the next generation of chefs and activists?

Be proud of how you lead and realize that professionalism and progressive environments make for a better industry. Be kind, be kind, be kind.

As 1 in 6 children could be living hunger in America, champions like Chef Acheson continue finding creative ways to ensure all kids have access to the meals they need to thrive.Stay tuned for more monthly posts about our champions.