Help ConAgra Foods Give Kids A #HungerFreeSummer

I am thrilled to work with ConAgra Foods® in collaboration with SparkFete this summer to help combat child hunger. This is a sponsored post; all opinions expressed are my own.

It was just a little more than a year ago when I worked with ConAgra Foods® and Kid President to promote a Hunger Free Summer. (By the way, ConAgra Foods and the ConAgra Foods Foundation have been pioneers and leaders in the fight against child hunger for the past twenty years, partnering with some of the largest nonprofit organizations dedicated to child hunger.)

Last June I got to check out the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s (GCFD) Lunch Bus. The Lunch Bus is a mobile meals program that delivers nutritious lunches to children under 18 years old in priority Cook County communities during the summer months. This program is invaluable, because kids can’t be kids when they’re hungry, and the Lunch Bus can take away some of the stress for these young people.

Lunch Bus

One thing that I learned that day that stuck with me, as in made a HUGE impact on my brain and heart, was this: only one in nine kids who are eligible for the Lunch Bus actually use the program due to a lack of awareness.

Fast forward to today. I’m back working with the same guy (Kid President and I are likethis), because guess what? There are still LOTS of kids spending long summer days without enough to eat, and awareness in general is still a problem. In fact, Kid President is working even harder this year: he recently conducted a Tell-A-Thon to inspire people to get involved with the cause. The Tell-A-Thon came about as a result of conversations with kids, who said that a telethon happens when “you tell someone something”. GENIUS, right? The goal of the Tell-A-Thon is to get people of all ages to “tell” about the issue of child hunger all summer long.

Here are some fast facts:

~ 22 million kids receive free or reduced price meals during the school year. During the summer, more than 80% of those kids are at risk for hunger because they don’t have access to school meals (source: 2013 U.S. Department of Agriculture/Food & Nutrition Service).

~ More than one in five children and more than one in four Latino children in the United States may not know where their next meal is coming from, and nearly 16 million children in the United States are food insecure–meaning they don’t know how long the food they have will last, or whether their family will have resources to buy more.

~ 23 food banks across 15 states will receive Hunger Free Summer grants, funded by the ConAgra Foods Foundation, to start new or expand existing summer feeding programs. These grants–ranging from $20,000 to $40,000–will provide healthy meals to more children throughout the summer.

~ New this year, the ConAgra Foods Foundation is also investing in a new initiative for child hunger and funding Hunger Free Summer Grants for three additional food banks. These food banks will receive $225,000 over a three-year period to evaluate the summer feeding landscape in their community and take action with programs that will increase access to meals for children and their families during the summer months.

It’s so easy to make a difference. There are countless ways that you (and your kids!) can spread awareness and also help more kids be kids this summer.

For one thing, you can keep the Tell-A-Thon going. Share it (or make your own video message to share) with your friends and family to spread the word and help reach 22 million people by the end of the summer. Make sure to use the hashtag #HungerFreeSummer. Tag friends and family to encourage them to keep the message moving, like an old-fashioned game of telephone. Or Tell-A-Phone. See what I did there?

Another super-easy thing you can do is support the cause by looking for the red pushpin and code on specially-marked ConAgra Foods’ products. For each eight-digit code entered at Child Hunger Ends Here this summer, ConAgra Foods will donate the monetary equivalent of one meal to Feeding America, up to three million meals. On every Friday between now and July 31, 2015 there is a special treat, 1 code=1 meal plus one bonus meal! Look for a special message from Kid President on Hunger Free Fridays.

Talk with your kids and come up with some other ideas on things you can do together to make it a #HungerFreeSummer. Donate or volunteer at a food bank, perhaps? Getting up close and personal with programs that directly benefit the hungry in your community can be an eye-opener!

Oh, and watch this video that I’m proud to be a part of, along with a bunch of my friends. It’s got a lot of information about the #HungerFreeSummer initiative and a step-by-step on how to make those eight-digit codes benefit Feeding America, not to mention a pretty cool “passing of the pushpin”. You need to see it.

Follow ConAgra Foods on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and while you’re at it, follow Feeding America on Twitter and Instagram.

Please don’t just read this and go on with your day. It’s so easy to do that but the fact is, while awareness is key, actually taking action is even better. This is a great time to help one kid…two kids…MORE KIDS…have a Hunger Free Summer.

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