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Belafonte told The AP that he and Chapin were not intimate friends, but had met several times.

“We shared the platform on a number of occasions and I always responded favorably whenever he asked me to do anything, whether it was to write a letter or make a call,” the 84-year-old singer said in a telephone interview.

`’In that context, I grew to really admire him, not only for his commitment to the cause of hunger, but also the fact that he did it with such passion, such real commitment. As an artist, I certainly loved his work. Not only his music, but the content of his words. He spoke about the human condition with a sense of humor and as a lyricist he had his hand on the pulse of social needs.”

Bill Ayres, a former Roman Catholic priest who has hosted a weekly radio talk show in New York since 1973, co-founded the organization now known as WhyHunger after first interviewing Chapin for his radio program.

When they started in 1975, there were only 28 emergency food providers throughout New York City. Today, he said, there are about 1,200. On a national level, he said WhyHunger works with approximately 8,400 community organizations, some of which deal with issues of hunger, while others help get jobs, health care and housing for those in need.

The organization conducts radio “hunger-thons” raising millions over the years, mostly in New York, but they have recently aired nationally over satellite radio. A WhyHunger spokeswoman said since its founding in 1975, the organization has raised more than $30 million to help more than 10 million families, children, veterans and others around the world gain access to nutritious food and vital services.

Ayres recalled: “Harry used to say `when in doubt, do something,’ and we have done a lot of things and it’s still going on.”


Online: WhyHunger: