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Mar 01, 2012 • By

The faces of hunger

Today, one in six Americans is struggling with hunger. That’s according to Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity and a General Mills partner for more than 25 years.

Vicki Escarra, the charity’s president and CEO, tells us hunger is impacting grandparents who have spent their entire lives working and single mothers juggling a couple of low-paying jobs.

Perhaps the most disturbing faces of hunger, however, are those of children.

“Our network members supply food to more than 37 million Americans each year including 14 million children,” explains Escarra. “They’re often going to school after a long weekend without having had more than one or two meals for three days.”

Feeding America is a network of 202 food banks that reaches 61,000 agencies.

“We do a lot of work with public schools in that we provide backpacks with food to kids on the weekends. We have after school programs where we make sure kids have snacks and/or supper. We do a lot of work in the summer with children in community centers, making sure they have nutritious food.”

Escarra tries to visit as many food banks and agencies as possible. A few months back, she traveled to a school in Las Vegas where 92 percent of the kids are living below the poverty line.

While Escarra was there, she learned about an 8-year-old boy named Max. She shares his story in this audio clip.

Escarra believes many people associate hunger with homelessness. However, less than 10 percent of the people served by Feeding America are homeless. In fact, out of all the people Feeding America serves each year, only 16 percent of them return each week.

“Typically, people come in a couple of times a year for support. They’re making it on their own, but if they hit a downturn in their employment, lose some hours, have a medical emergency or any type of issue that is outside the norm – that’s when we see people come in for help.”

Help? Maybe now is your time.

“Get involved. Volunteer at a local food bank. Go on our website, FeedingAmerica.org, and find a food bank near where you work and live. You can donate food. You can donate money,” urges Escarra. “It’s the time in our country when we all need to give back.”

Watch this video to learn more about the mission of Feeding America.

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