July 1, 2011
What do over 17 million American children have to look forward to this Fourth of July?

Hunger.

In the “Land of Plenty,” over 21 million low-income children receive their main daily meal through free school lunches.  When school’s out, typically 14.7 million won’t get these free meals, simply because they don’t know how to sign up for them or where to find them.   

It’s a hunger gap.  And there is no reason for it. 

The federal government has long authorized — and fully funded — free lunches for needy American children; yet state and local governments have lacked either the knowledge or alliances to enlist all eligible children. 

Share Our Strength — a national organization committed to ENDING CHILDHOOD HUNGER IN AMERICA BY 2015 — is launching state-by-state campaigns to create anti-hunger alliances between service organizations and governments.  Governors — both Red and Blue — are enthusiastic, because the meals cost their states not a penny.  Through additional grants from Share Our Strength in 35 states, local organizations are providing fresh produce, mobile meals trucks, and extra staff to distribute meals where vulnerable kids play and congregate in the summer. 

Every week Jim and I feed our five ravenous teenage children.  We can’t imagine kids like ours — anywhere in the world — and especially in a country with plenty of food — going hungry on a daily basis.  So, in June our family fund at the Boston Foundation offered an on-line national challenge:  we will match gifts dollar for dollar up to $25,000 to help end summer hunger for America’s children.  To end hunger click here.

The campaign to end summer hunger is led by one of my favorite actors, Jeff Bridges.  He is participating in a nine-state tour shining a spotlight on this hidden hunger.  For Jeff Bridges’ letter click here.

We keep thinking that if people only knew about the 14.7 million hungry children near our own backyards this summer, where we enjoy our picnics and barbeques, they would support a PERMANENT SOLUTIONShare Our Strength has it.  Go beyond offering a can of soup.  Help food pantries, soup kitchens, youth programs and government agencies work together to provide healthy food for America’s neediest children — especially in the summer.

We are proud to support outstanding local anti-hunger organizations like Open Door and Beverly Bootstraps in our community of Cape Ann, Massachusetts.  We imagine you make donations to your local food bank, too.  Let’s gather our friends and do more of that this summer!  For thumbnail sketches of the local organizations we support, click here.

This Fourth of July, can you do one more thing?  Support a PERMANENT, NATIONAL SOLUTION TO END CHILDHOOD HUNGER.  Give more than a can of soup.  Make a gift of $10 or $25 or $100.  We will double it.  Fuel the No Kid Hungry Campaign — to end hunger for America’s children this summer and forever.  There’s no reason not to.

Over half of the challenge has already been met, drawing down a match of $12,500.  Your investment and ours, strategically deployed, will draw down over ten times more in federal dollars. That means every $1 given will provide 10 summer meals to a child!  To donate now click here.

For more about Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Summer Tour and examples of states working to end childhood hunger click here.

Thank you for caring.  May we all enjoy a happy and hunger-free Fourth of July!

Note:  new figures were released since I posted this article stating that without a massive enrollment campaign, 17 million eligible children will not receive free lunches this summer, as compared to 14 million I cited earlier.