HOUSTON, Aug. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- For many kids, back to school means new school supplies, new clothes and new teachers. But for millions of children, going back to school means the comfort of knowing they will once again have regular meals provided five days a week.
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). In Texas, the need to help children is especially high. According to a report released by Feeding America and the ConAgra Foods Foundation – "Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2006-2008" – Texas has the second highest rate of child hunger in the United States at a rate of 25 percent.
In order to help children facing hunger, the ConAgra Foods Foundation and Feeding America created the Hunger-Free Summer initiative. This initiative assists children through a $5 million donation from the ConAgra Foods Foundation to Feeding America over five years. The goal of Hunger-Free Summer is to provide at least 25 percent more meals for children in need. This summer, ConAgra Foods Foundation's work with Feeding America will deliver one million meals to children in need.
Among those supporting the Hunger-Free Summer program this year is 2006 "American Idol" runner-up, Katharine McPhee.
"I have had so much fun this summer visiting children from Orlando to Los Angeles, writing songs, singing with them and working to provide laughter and fun in their day," said McPhee. "The Hunger-Free Summer initiative has been truly rewarding for me and I hope the awareness does not end when children go back to school, because unfortunately, hunger doesn't fully stop when school starts."
"When we learned children are more likely to face hunger during the summer months, we teamed up with Feeding America to help bring a million meals to kids struggling with hunger this summer," said Kori Reed, executive director, ConAgra Foods Foundation. "We're proud to have accomplished so much in the first year of our Hunger-Free Summer initiative with Katharine and Feeding America, and look forward to doing even more to close the summer hunger gap over the next four years."
"As the number of children struggling with hunger continues to rise, our nation continues to face a true crisis," said Vicki Escarra, President and CEO of Feeding America. "Our most recent research on child food insecurity revealed Texas as rated the second highest in the country, so it is fitting that the Hunger-Free Summer initiative concludes right here, in a place where we must increase visibility of the resources available for children during the critical summer months."
McPhee launched Hunger-Free Summer in Orlando in July and has since traveled the country volunteering her time, raising awareness for the cause, and singing with the children served by the centers. She will finish this summer's tour in Houston on August 17 at the Houston Food Bank from 12:00p.m. until 2:00p.m.
"We are honored to have been chosen out of all the food banks in the state of Texas to host Katharine this summer," said Brian Greene, president and CEO of Houston Food Bank. "Her generosity in devoting her time to this cause means a lot to us and even more to the children of Houston."
For more information, please visit http://feedingamerica.org/hungerfreesummer.
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 at twitter.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 visit www.conagrafoodsfoundation.org or www.facebook.com/ConAgraFoodsFoundation. The ConAgra Foods Foundation is funded solely by ConAgra Foods (NYSE: CAG).
About the Houston Food Bank
The Houston Food Bank is the largest source of food for hunger relief charities in 18 southeast Texas counties. A network of more than 400 food pantries, soup kitchens, senior centers and other agencies, feeding a total of 137,000 people each week, provides more than 60 million pounds of food and prepared meals annually. Fresh produce, meat and nonperishables are distributed from Herzstein Center, a 73,000 square-foot warehouse, and hot meals are prepared and distributed from Keegan Center, a 15,000 square-foot industrial kitchen. In 2011, the Food Bank's warehouse operations will be moved to a much larger facility near the East Freeway and East Loop. Additional community services range from nutrition education to assistance with food stamp applications and hands-on job training. Red Barrels offer a convenient way for grocery shoppers to donate nonperishables for their neighbors in need. The Houston Food Bank, founded in 1982, is a certified member of Feeding America, the nation's food bank network. The organization plans to grow to an annual distribution of 120 million pounds of food by 2018. Visit HoustonFoodBank.org for more information.
Hunger-Free Summer – Local Grant Recipients
Through the support of the ConAgra Foods Foundation, 23 organizations in 16 states have been able to feed thousands of children this summer. Grant recipients include:
SOURCE ConAgra Foods Foundation