ORLANDO - For many kids, the end of the school year is a time to celebrate, plan summer vacations, and play with friends. But for millions of children, the time away from school means not knowing where their next meal will come from. With the goal of helping ensure more children have enough to eat all year long, ConAgra Foods has partnered with Feeding America to create the Hunger-Free Summer initiative.
During the school year, 19.5 million children receive free and reduced-price meals at school. But during the summer months, only 2.2 million children participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), coordinated by many Feeding America food banks across the country. That leaves millions of children at risk of hunger during the summer when school is out. The Hunger-Free Summer initiative aims to close that gap through a $5 million donation from the ConAgra Foods Foundation to Feeding America. The goal of the Hunger-Free Summer initiative is to provide at least 25 percent more meals for children in need over the next five years, and will account for a significant portion of ConAgra Foods Foundation's goal of delivering one million meals to children in need this summer.
"For those families who rely on free or reduced-price lunch during the school year, summer can be more stressful than fun. We work with Feeding America to reduce that anxiety. Every child deserves to have a place where they know they can get a meal all year long, and Hunger-Free Summer will help make that happen," said Kori Reed, executive director, ConAgra Foods Foundation.
"Summer is a critical time for millions of children who lose access to the free and reduced-price meals they receive during the school year," said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America. "It is imperative that we raise awareness of the Summer Food Service Program to increase the number of children in need who participate. We are so grateful to our Entertainment Council member Katharine McPhee for supporting Feeding America and the ConAgra Foods Foundation and helping us launch Hunger-Free Summer this year. No child should go hungry, and together, we can put an end to child hunger in America."
Among those supporting the program is 2006 "American Idol" runner-up, Katharine McPhee.
"This summer, I am going to be traveling across the country to Feeding America food banks from Orlando to Los Angeles – to volunteer my time and, more importantly, to raise awareness about this important issue," said McPhee. "I want to challenge every community to come together to help end child hunger in the United States."
McPhee is launching Hunger-Free Summer on Wednesday, July 7, with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida inOrlando at New Image Youth Center from 11:30a.m. until 1:00p.m. While at the site, Katharine will be volunteering her time, raising awareness for the cause, and singing with the children served by the center.
"In Central Florida, Second Harvest Food Bank is operating a total of 11 of the summer feeding sites in Orange County, Florida. We are proud and grateful that the partnership of ConAgra Foods and Feeding America continues to help us touch young lives in this vital way this summer," said Dave Krepcho, President and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.
Throughout the month of July, McPhee will travel across the country to other Feeding America food banks to raise awareness. Upcoming locations and dates include:
About Feeding America
Feeding America provides low-income individuals and families with the fuel to survive and even thrive. As the nation's leading domestic hunger-relief charity, our network members supply food to more than 37 million Americans each year, including 14 million children and 3 million seniors. Serving the entire United States, more than 200 member food banks support 61,000 agencies that address hunger in all of its forms. For more information on how you can fight hunger in your community and across the country, visit us on Facebook at facebook.com/FeedingAmerica or follow our news on Twitter attwitter.com/FeedingAmerica.
About ConAgra Foods Foundation
The ConAgra Foods Foundation, through its Nourish Today, Flourish Tomorrow platform, is dedicated to raising awareness of the nearly 17 million children in America who are at risk of hunger and don't have enough food to live active, healthful lives. It aggressively pursues sustainable solutions in the fight against child hunger. And the Foundation is committed to building a community of people who are passionate about ensuring that all kids have access to the food and facts they need to eat nutritiously while living balanced lifestyles and succeeding in school and life. ConAgra Foods Foundation invests in national and local partnerships with high-impact, not-for-profit organizations, such as Feeding America, that take an innovative approach to addressing needs in the core areas of hunger and nutrition education. For more information, please visitwww.conagrafoodsfoundation.org or www.facebook.com/ConAgraFoodsFoundation. The ConAgra Foods Foundation is funded solely by ConAgra Foods.
About Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida
Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida is a private, nonprofit organization that collects, stores, and distributes donated food to more than 600 partner agencies in six Central Florida counties: Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, andVolusia.
Hunger-Free Summer – Local Grant Recipients
Through the support of the ConAgra Foods Foundation, 23 organizations in 16 states will be able to feed thousands of children this summer. Grant recipients include: