I am honored, truly honored to be a part of a special campaign with Feeding America and ConAgra Foods. The program is called “Child Hunger Ends Here”, and through my posts, the posts of the other blogger correspondents, Facebook and Twitter, my hope is that we can all help with this very real situation that exists right here in our own country.
I did not know how severe childhood hunger in America is until recently. Thank goodness companies like ConAgra are here to help. They are dedicated to supporting programs for families as a whole, in addition to the children. They have donated over $30 million to the fight against child hunger so far and have committed another $10 million over the next five years. They have provided approx. 250,000,000 lbs of food to support emergency programs, and they continue to help.
Were you aware that 1 in 4 children don’t know where their next meal is coming from? That is a staggering and disturbing figure. I had no idea the problem was this bad – I really didn’t. As a matter of fact, one of those hungry children might live down the street from you or I and we might never even know it.
Research indicates that even mild under-nutrition experienced by young children during critical periods of growth impacts their behavior, school performance, and cognitive development.
- Only 2.2 million children receive free or reduced price meals in summer.
- Children who are hungry may not perform well academically.
- Children who are hungry may experience slower growth and inhibited brain development.
- Children who are hungry may suffer from more stomach aches, headaches, colds, ear infections, and fatigue.
- During the school year, about 19.5 million children depend on free or reduced-price school meals to help keep them from going hungry
I know how hard it is to concentrate when I am hungry, but for kids it really affects the way they learn. The brain works so much better with proper nutrition and when the tummy is satisfied.
Unfortunately there are many new faces coming through food banks, as the economy has taken a toll on families who previously never thought they would be in this situation. Many of the children coming through food banks are from middle-class families who are now unemployed. This is a silent epidemic, as many of these families are too ashamed and they will not seek help until they reach rock bottom. What they might not know is that they are not alone. Their peers may very well be wondering how they will feed their families too. The food banks treat everyone with respect – there is nothing to be ashamed of. America’s food banks serve over 5.7 million people a week, and unfortunately, that number is bound to grow.
Though I never experienced hunger as a child, I did experience it as a young adult, when I made the decision to move out on my own before I was ready. I had a job, but after paying rent and bills, I had very little money left. It is a scary, terrifying feeling. I can only imagine how it would feel to not be able to feed my own children.
Over the next couple of months, I, along with several blogger correspondents will be keeping you up to date on this amazing campaign, as well as showing you how you can help. I will be touring my local food bank distribution center and will be reporting here with what I learned. I have a feeling it will be both heartbreaking and heartwarming.
The Child Hunger Ends Here campaign is a program that works – but it takes the help of many people. Small things that you can do will make a huge difference.
How can we help?
Go Grocery Shopping – From March through May 2011, ConAgra Foods will embark on its largest branded initiative to fight child hunger in the United States. Consumers can purchase select ConAgra Foods brands and, when they enter their code online, the company will donate one meal to Feeding America – up to 2.5 million meals this during the time period.* Visit www.childhungerendshere.com and enter the eight-digit purchase code found on specially marked packages.
Participating brands include: Banquet, Chef Boyardee, Healthy Choice, Fresh Mixers, Kid Cuisine, Marie Callender’s and Peter Pan.
Every code entered is another meal that ConAgra Foods will enable Feeding America to secure through local food banks. Codes on specially marked packages can be redeemed through August 2011.
Text to Donate – Consumers can make a financial contribution to Feeding America through a mobile giving campaign. Simply text “FEEDKIDS” to 50555 to make a $10 donation directly to Feeding America through June 30, 2011.
** ConAgra is compensating me for helping to spread the word during the Child Hunger Ends Here campaign.