9 Best Charities That Combat Pica Eating Disorder (Complete 2024 List)

9 Best Charities That Combat Pica Eating Disorder (Complete 2024 List)

By
Alycia O'Dell

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Pica is the persistent, compulsive ingestion of non-edible substances. It’s most commonly diagnosed in children and individuals with developmental disabilities, and sometimes pregnant women. However, the cause is unknown. Ingesting non-edible items can have negative consequences on one’s health, making pica eating disorder dangerous if left untreated. Fortunately, organizations around the world are working to raise awareness, provide support, and increase access to treatment for people affected by pica. So, we had to ask: what are the best charities that combat pica eating disorder?

The best charities that combat pica eating disorder are the National Eating Disorder Association and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Charities such as the Autism Speaks and FEAST work to equip families of individuals with pica with resources and support to overcome the disorder.

Whether you want to help a concerned parent determine if their child’s eating habits are developmentally appropriate, increase understanding of pica within the autism community, or ensure that everyone suffering from pica has access to quality treatment, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities that combat pica eating disorder are all about, how they work, and what your best way would be to contribute.

Here’s What All the Best Charities That Combat Pica Eating Disorder Have in Common

The charities on this list were chosen based on their mission, impact and transparency ratings, and achievements.

The majority operate primarily throughout the US and Canada, but some combat pica and other eating disorders internationally.

Many of these charities facilitate peer support for parents of children suffering from pica. Others seek to explore the complexities of the disorder to develop new and improved treatments.

Some also provide resources for health conditions that commonly co-occur with pica, such as autism and pregnancy, while others focus solely on eating disorders.

Yet, they all share a common goal; to combat pica eating disorder and help those affected to lead healthier lives. 

These Are the 9 Best Charities That Help Combat Pica Eating Disorder in 2024

Below are our favorite charities that help combat pica eating disorder (you can click on their link to directly jump to their section in this article):

(At the end of this article we’ll also share our six-step approach on how you can select the best charity to support.)

1

National Eating Disorders Association: Turning Suffering into Healing

Logo for National Eating Disorders Association
National Eating Disorders Association | See the Change, Be the Change

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Their transparency & ratings:

Charity Navigator gives the National Eating Disorder Association a 3-star rating. GuideStar gives the charity a Silver Seal of Transparency. 

Feeding hope.

National Eating Disorders Association

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What they do:

The National Eating Disorders Association combats eating disorders, including pica eating disorder, through programs and services designed to support those affected in overcoming their illness. They offer resources to parents and caretakers to help them navigate their child’s eating disorder. For example, their free, downloadable Toolkits provide adults with important information on eating disorders and how to provide support. And, their website contains resources for recovery such as the Helpline, and access to an extensive list of treatment providers across the US. Furthermore, they host events such as NEDAWalk and NEDAwareness Week, which bring awareness and funding to the fight against eating disorders.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the National Eating Disorders Association has helped millions of people suffering from eating disorders, including pica eating disorder, find the help and support they need. For example, in 2019 alone, their NEDAwareness Week campaign reached over 303.4 million people via social media, and more than 145,000 people completed the Eating Disorders Screening Tool. In the same year, they merged with the National Association for Men with Eating Disorders to support the 10 million males who suffer from eating disorders, including pica eating disorder, and to reduce the stigmas that prevent men and boys from seeking help. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the National Eating Disorders Association via their website. You can also get involved by participating in a NEDAWalk event in your community or becoming a group support facilitator for The Body Project.

2

National Alliance on Mental Illness: Raising Awareness and Providing Resources

Logo for National Alliance on Mental Illness
Welcome To NAMI

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Their transparency & ratings:

Charity Navigator gives the National Alliance on Mental Illness a 4-star rating. GuideStar gives the charity a Platinum rating for transparency. 

“Changing the mental health conversation, together.”

National Alliance on Mental Illness

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What they do:

The National Alliance on Mental Illness improves the lives of those with eating disorders, like pica eating disorder, and other mental health disorders through advocacy, education, support, and public awareness. For example, their education program features classes for people with mental illness as well as stakeholders such as family members, significant others, and providers. They also provide peer support to those seeking guidance and resources via their 24-hour HelpLine. In addition, they provide comprehensive information about mental illnesses commonly seen in childhood, such as pica eating disorder, including treatment options, and how to cope if you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms.

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What they’ve achieved:

The National Alliance on Mental Illness helps people struggling with their mental health, including pica eating disorder, through their network of over 600 affiliates and 49 state organizations across the US. For example, in 2021, they distributed $3.5 million in grants to advance the work of their network and to support more people. In the same year, their annual fundraiser, NAMIWalks Your Way raised $13.1 million across 122 events with over 40,000 participants nationwide. In addition, the charity’s advocacy efforts were integral to the launch of the 988 crisis number, a helpline for those suffering from anxiety, eating disorders, depression, and suicidal thoughts. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the National Alliance on Mental Illness via their website. You can also contribute by registering to participate in NamiWalks Your Way or by volunteering to work on the HelpLine.

3

Autism Speaks: A Spectrum of Solutions

Logo for Autism Speaks
"Full of Potential" | Autism Speaks

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Their transparency & ratings:

Charity Navigator gives Autism Speaks a 3-star rating. GuideStar gives the charity the Gold Seal of transparency. 

“Across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan”

Autism Speaks

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What they do:

Autism Speaks helps families of individuals with autism affected by pica eating disorder through education and direct support. For example, their website contains extensive information about pica, including tool kits for parents and providers managing pica in children with autism. Furthermore, their Autism Response Team and My Autism Guide portal provide families with personalized information and resources to help them better support their loved one, including how to get a diagnosis and local treatment options. Furthermore, they fund research to identify the underlying causes of autism and develop improved interventions. 

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, Autism Speaks has helped millions of families navigate their journey with autism, including those affected by co-occurring pica eating disorder. For example, in 2021 alone, they aided more than 1.6 million people through funded services, resources, and direct support. In the same year, their online My Autism Guide portal connected more than 22,000 families with information and resources personalized to their needs. And, their global, peer-reviewed grant program awarded more than $1.6 million in funding to support the next generation of autism science leaders.

Ways to contribute:

You can make monetary donations to Autism Speaks via their website. You can also contribute by registering to participate in the Autism Speaks Walk, or by creating your own fundraiser.

4

FEAST: Families Helping Families

Logo for FEAST
F.E.A.S.T. Principles

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Their transparency & ratings:

GuideStar gives FEAST a Gold Seal of transparency. 

We are here because we’ve been there.

FEAST

⚒️

What they do:

FEAST’s programs and services provide support, information, skills, and tools to families of eating disorders patients, including those with pica eating disorder, as they fight the disease. For example, their FEAST 30 Days program is designed to educate and empower caregivers through one virtual lesson a day for 30 days. As another example, their Around the Dinner Table Forum provides parents with peer support through a moderated online discussion board. Furthermore, they supply parents with printable quick reference pamphlets on topics related to eating disorders, such as nutrition and neurobiology, through their FEAST Family Guides Series.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, FEAST has supported over 10,000 families across 70 countries to help their loved ones navigate eating disorders, like pica. For example, in 2021, the Association provided education and resources on eating disorders to over 5,000 users through their website. In the same year, over 3,800 people registered for their FEAST 30 Days program, and over 2,800 people joined the Around the Dinner Table Forum and Facebook Community. Furthermore, they supported 1,200 parents and families affected by eating disorders, such as pica, through their parent support channels. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to FEAST via their website. You can also get involved by volunteering for a fundraising committee or as a technical specialist.

5

March of Dimes: Caring for Mothers, Protecting Babies

Logo for March of Dimes
March of Dimes: Transformation

🔎

Their transparency & ratings:

Charity Navigator gives the March of Dimes a 2-star rating due to the amount of money they spend on their programs. GuideStar gives the charity a Platinum Seal of transparency. 

Fighting for the health of all moms and babies.”

March of Dimes

⚒️

What they do:

March of Dimes ensures that all mothers suffering from pregnancy-related mental illness, such as pica eating disorder, have the resources to manage their condition through advocacy and education. For example, through their Mom and Baby Action Network, they unite stakeholders at national, state, and local levels to address factors that create barriers to mental health treatment for some people, like economic insecurity and disconnected communities. Furthermore, they offer continuing education courses that help healthcare providers identify and mitigate implicit bias in maternal mental health care that might prevent a mother from receiving adequate treatment for conditions like pica eating disorder. 

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What they’ve achieved:

Today, March of Dimes is a leading force in the fight for universal access to quality maternal mental healthcare for all mothers, babies, and children, including those suffering from pica. For example, in 2020, their implicit bias training was offered to more than 35,000 healthcare providers in over 30 states. Furthermore, in 2021, they supported the American Rescue Plan Act, which extends postpartum Medicaid coverage for up to 12 months, ensuring that mothers can continue to access vital services after birth. And, their largest fundraiser, March for Babies, has generated over $1.8 billion to support their mission since 1970.

6

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders: Peer Support for Healing

Logo for National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
ANAD | Who We Are

🔎

Their transparency & ratings:

GuideStar gives the National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders a Silver Seal of transparency. 

Eating disorder recovery is possible. ANAD is here to help.

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Related Disorders

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What they do:

The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders helps individuals overcome pica eating disorder through peer support services. Their network of volunteers is composed of eating disorder survivors who provide various levels of support to those still suffering. For instance, their Eating Disorder Helpline provides users with instant access to basic support, while their Recovery Mentor program pairs patients and volunteers one-on-one to provide more in-depth, long-term support. Additionally, their virtual peer support groups connect people with eating disorders with other sufferers to create a community of guidance and understanding.

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Today, the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders serves over 200 people every week through their 11 virtual support groups, helpline, and mentorship program, including those with pica eating disorder. They have also remained committed to supporting the needs of diverse communities that often lack the necessary resources they need to heal. For example, their peer support group program includes several special interest groups, including LGBTQ+, BIPOC, and teens and young adults. Furthermore, in 2021, they proposed a set of guidelines to promote inclusive care in treatment centers across the US. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders via their website. You can also get involved by becoming a Helpline volunteer, Recovery Mentor, or Peer Support Group Leader.

7

Mental Health America: Action Before Crisis

Logo for Mental Health America
Understanding our #B4Stage4 Philosophy

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Their transparency & ratings:

Charity Navigator gives Mental Health America a 4-star rating. GuideStar gives the charity a Platinum Seal of transparency. 

Crisis is not a starting point.”

Mental Health America

⚒️

What they do:

Mental Health America promotes mental health and the prevention of mental illnesses, including pica eating disorder, through advocacy, education, research, and integrative services. For example, through education and outreach, they help people of all ages better understand the prevention, early identification, and intervention of mental illnesses such as pica and commonly co-occurring disorders. Moreover, their network of over 200 affiliates work with state and local policymakers to develop policies that promote mental health, including Medicaid expansion. They also provide clinically validated screens for mental illness that commonly occur with eating disorders via their MHA Screening program.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, Mental Health America has educated millions of people about mental illness, including eating disorders such as pica, and reduced barriers to treatment and services. For example, through their MHA Screening program, they have screened over 7.4 million individuals. Furthermore, in 2020 alone, their public education efforts reached more than 19 million people and they directly impacted 208,000 people suffering from mental health issues through their support services, including eating disorders. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to Mental Health America via their website. You can also get involved by joining their advocacy movement or creating your own fundraiser.

8

National Alliance for Eating Disorders: Recovery and Education

Logo for National Alliance for Eating Disorders
#WeAreAllianceSurvivors #GivingTuesdayNow

🔎

Their transparency & ratings:

Charity Navigator gives the National Alliance for Eating Disorders a 3-star rating. GuideStar gives the charity a Platinum Seal of transparency. 

Walking you through recovery.

National Alliance for Eating Disorders

⚒️

What they do:

The National Alliance for Eating Disorders provides support to people suffering from eating disorders, such as pica eating disorder, through education, referrals, and advocacy. For example, they facilitate the initial phase of recovery through their referral services, including their national database of providers, which connects families of people with eating disorders to treatment options at all levels of care. Furthermore, they host free, weekly support groups for families of children suffering from pica eating disorder. Additionally, they spread awareness of eating disorders through community outreach projects and education.

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the National Alliance for Eating Disorders has impacted the lives of thousands of people affected by pica and other eating disorders. For example, in 2021 alone, their referral services helped 163,398 people start their journey toward recovery. In the same year, 16,953 people participated in their support groups, and 29,415 people attended their educational events.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the National Alliance for Eating Disorders via their website. You can also get involved by volunteering or interning with the organization, or attending an event.

9

Child Mind Institute: Mental Health in the Developing Brain

Logo for Child Mind Institute
No Child Should Suffer: 60 second PSA

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Their transparency & ratings:

Charity Navigator gives the Child Mind Institute a 3-star rating. GuideStar gives the charity a Platinum Seal of transparency. 

Reaching struggling kids wherever they are.”

Child Mind Institute

⚒️

What they do:

The Child Mind Institute helps children with mental health and learning challenges through three initiative areas: care, education, and science. Their care initiative offers evaluation and treatment for a wide variety of mental health concerns, like symptoms of eating disorders, including pica. Their education initiative includes the Family Resource Center and School and Community Programs, which provide families and communities with resources to promote children’s mental health. In addition, their science initiative drives research into causes of mental health and learning challenges, including eating disorders, in developing brains and adapts treatments accordingly.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Child Mind Institute has treated more than 13,110 patients, over 75% of whom received services for free or at a reduced cost, including those with pica eating disorder. Their Healthy Brain Network has included more than 5,510 participants and the data has been cited in more than 1,289 research articles. In 2021 alone, more than 17 million people visited the organization’s website for free, evidence-based resources on children’s mental health, eating disorders, and learning challenges.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the Child Mind Institute via their website. You can also register to participate in an event by attending or becoming a sponsor.

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities that combat pica eating disorder. However, you may have a particular charity you want to support. Let’s look at what you can do to ensure your contribution has the most significant impact.

  • Check out the charity website. Charities that are worthy of your donations are transparent in their mission and their figures. Familiarise yourself with their history, mission, and values. Their website usually is the best place to start.
  • Identify the charity’s mission. Without a goal, the charity is likely to fail. If the charity’s mission isn’t clear, it’s probably worth looking for a charity that does have a clear mission. 
  • Check if the charity has measurable goals. An effective charity has clear goals. You want to know if your donation will help the charity reach its goals. But if it doesn’t have targets, it’s likely to fail or squander your gift. The charity should be able to account for its spending and supply evidence of the work they do.
  • Assess the successes or goals the charity has achieved. You wouldn’t invest in a business if it kept missing its targets. In the same way, charities are like this too. If no one is assessing a charity’s progress in reaching its targets, the chances are they’re not making a substantial positive change.
  • Check the charity’s financials and stats. Trustworthy organizations will publish financial statements and reports each year. Some might be exempt from having to do so, but they should be able to provide them to public members who are interested in donating.
  • Locate sources who work with or benefit from the charity. Word of mouth and first-hand experience of a charity’s work lets you know the charity’s quality. If you’re able to do so, check out the charity for yourself or speak to someone familiar with it. This way, your donation will go to the right place. 

How Can You Best Support These Charities?

After you’ve made your decision, it’s time for you to decide on how you’d like to help the charities you’ve chosen. Check how you can help – each charity runs specific programs that have unique aims. Find out what the aim of such programs is and whether they are right for you. 

Here are a few ways you can help your chosen charity:

  • Donate money. You can find donation pages on the website of most charities. Your donation can be a one-time payment, or you can set it to be deducted regularly at different intervals. You can mostly pay via credit card, but some charities also take PayPal or Bitcoin payments.
  • Buy their official merchandise. Charities can also raise money by selling merchandise. So, you can support them by buying the mugs, shirts, caps, pens, pencils, and any other such items they may be selling. Ideally, you should buy as much as you can to share and spread the word about the charity’s activities.
  • Engage in volunteer work. As you’ve seen from our descriptions above, some charities engage in a lot of local and grassroots programs. You can help by taking on and organizing the program in your local area.
  • Help their fundraising efforts. You can spread the word about the charity in your workplace, school, church, etc., and hold creative fundraising drives on social media or offline within your small circles.
  • Share their stories. Most charities have compelling stories that you can share with your audience to attract more people to the cause.

Final Thoughts

Now it is up to you to select the charity that resonates most with you. And whichever charity you end up choosing and contributing to, we are sure that they will immensely appreciate your support. Hopefully, the information within this article has made this selection process a bit easier for you to support charities dedicated to combatting pica eating disorder – based on the causes that matter most to you.

Stay impactful,

Illustration of a signature for Alycia

PS: Finally, I want to leave you with a thought-provoking TED talk from Dan Pallotta, a leading philanthropic activist and fundraiser, about what is wrong with the way we think about charities – and what we can do about it:

The way we think about charity is dead wrong | Dan Pallotta

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