Katharine McPhee for Hunger-Free Program

With the aim 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 target 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.

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 in Orlando 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.

“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.”

Throughout the month of July, McPhee will travel across the country to other Feeding America food banks to raise awareness.

RMN News

Rakesh Raman