To help combat child hunger and its threat to K-12 education and impact on learning, this year Target is making a financial commitment of $2.3 million to Feeding America, the nation's leading hunger-relief organization, and local hunger organizations to fund a school food pantry pilot program and its future expansion to more schools nationwide. The program, 'Meals for Minds,' is an innovative partnership with Feeding America and local food banks that will bring food to schools to feed students and families most in need. Target also is committing $1.2 million on top of the $2.3 million, to local food banks across the country to support other school-based food programs. The company also is projected to donate more than 20 million pounds of food to children and families in need in 2010.
According to a recent survey, 62 percent of teachers said that students come to school hungry each week because they are not getting enough to eat at home and 63 percent report buying food for the classroom each month with their own money. When children are hungry, they have trouble staying alert and focused on their lessons and fall behind in school. A strong majority (64 percent) also said that"most" or"a lot" of students at their school rely on federally-subsidized school meals for their primary source of nutrition.*
Target began piloting the"Meals for Minds" school pantry program this spring in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Miami, Baltimore, Los Angeles and Chicago. The pilot schools were selected by participating food banks, in cooperation with local schools. At each school, 65 to 90 percent of students qualify for participation in the Free and Reduced Lunch program.
As part of the pilot, Target is partnering with Feeding America to develop the tools needed to help local food banks bring the school pantry program to more schools in their communities. Currently, a number of school pantry models are being tested, including in-school and mobile versions. Target also is developing best practices to incorporate nutrition education into the"Meals for Minds" program and to drive parental engagement in schools.
"We've seen the 'Meals for Minds' pilot program have a tremendous impact at our participant schools here in Baltimore," said John Shaia, director of programs and network services, Maryland Food Bank."The program is strengthening the relationship between the community and the school and really increasing parental involvement. There's a positive difference in the school's overall climate."
"Feeding America is proud to partner with Target on 'Meals for Minds' as we address the rapidly unfolding crisis of child hunger in our country. All of our nation's children deserve the best educational opportunity available and no child should go hungry," said Vicki Escarra, President and CEO, Feeding America."Target is a strong brand with a longstanding commitment to education that is reflective of our collective obligation as keepers of our children's' trust to ensure that hunger does not steal away their opportunities for success. 'Meals for Minds' forges a way for endless possibilities to be realized by our youth."
Target has partnered with Feeding America since 2001 in its fight to end hunger in the U.S. In 2009, Target provided approximately 14 million meals to help feed families at risk of hunger through the Feeding America network of food banks, of which 4.7 million** of the meals directly fed children. The company donated an estimated 19.6 million pounds of food and other products to Feeding America in 2009.
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Feeding America® is the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States. Through a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs, we provide meals to more than 46 million people each year. Feeding America also supports programs that prevent food waste and improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending hunger. Donate. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate. Together we can solve hunger. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.
Minneapolis-based Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) serves guests at 1,740 stores in 49 states nationwide and at Target.com. Target is committed to providing a fun and convenient shopping experience with access to unique and highly differentiated products at affordable prices. Since 1946, the corporation has given 5 percent of its income through community grants and programs like Take Charge of Education. Today, that giving equals more than $3 million a week.