For many families facing financial troubles and struggling to put dinner on the table, help is hard to find. In this country, we're hearing more each day about the growing problem of"food deserts" – rural and urban communities where residents might not have access to a grocery store, emergency food assistance, or food of good nutritional balance. The Kraft Foods Foundation and Feeding America, the nation's leading hunger-relief organization, have an innovative solution that brings food to those who need it most – the Kraft Foods Mobile Pantry program.
This year, eight new"farmers' markets on wheels" will hit the road in the second year of a three-year, $4.5 million commitment to Feeding America to provide up to 25 new mobile pantries to local food banks. The trucks help the local food bank increase their capacity and reach in communities where residents live as far as 120 miles from emergency food assistance or even a grocery store.
"The mobile pantries are a unique solution to the growing problem of food deserts in this country," said Tony Vernon, President, Kraft Foods North America."The trucks are a fresh food oasis, helping reach those that might not have access to emergency assistance. And with a mix of fresh fruits and vegetables, families have more options for good nutrition and balanced meals."
These eight beverage-style refrigerated trucks deliver perishable and non-perishable food, including the fresh fruits, vegetables, protein and dairy products that are especially important for good nutrition and often missing from diets of low-income families.
This year, the program is being rolled out in Auburn, Maine; Comstock Park, Mich.; Elizabeth City, N.C.; Erie, Pa.; Irvine, Calif.; Pembroke Park, Fla.; Richmond, Va.; and Valdosta, Ga. Last year, seven mobile pantries were donated in this first-of-its-kind national program.
"Kraft Foods is a longtime, dedicated partner of Feeding America and we are so grateful for their innovative role in the fight against hunger," said Vicki Escarra, President and CEO of Feeding America."These mobile pantries allow access to healthy, vital food for people who may otherwise not have access. No American should go hungry and we thank Kraft Foods for supporting Feeding America in the fight to end domestic hunger."
Fighting Hunger One Mile at a Time
Each truck will deliver nearly one million pounds of food a year. That's more than 780,000 meals that will reach area residents, at a time when the need has never been greater.
Stops will be made at neighborhood food pantries, churches or school parking lots an average of three times a week. Families and individuals are invited to select food as they would at a farmers' market – produce like fresh lettuce, crunchy apples, crisp green beans, and other meal-time staples such as Kraft macaroni and cheese, and Oscar Mayer meats.
Unprecedented Demand for Help
The state of the economy is affecting more Americans than any other time in recent history. The US Department of Agriculture now reports that one in six Americans is food insecure. And, Feeding America reports a 46 percent increase in the number of people seeking emergency food assistance through their nationwide network compared to four years ago. To put it another way, the Feeding America network is serving one million more people each week.
Fighting hunger is not new for Kraft Foods. As the nation's largest food company, it has partnered with Feeding America for decades to do just that. Most recently, the Foundation reinforced its commitment by donating $180 million over a three-year period to community involvement activities around the globe. The mobile pantry program is just one way they are making good on that commitment.
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Feeding America is the nationwide network of 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States. Together, we provide food to more than 46 million people through 60,000 food pantries and meal programs in communities across America. Feeding America also supports programs that 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.
Kraft Foods is taking a stand when it comes to fighting hunger and promoting healthy lifestyles. The company, along with the Kraft Foods Foundation, is addressing food insecurity through an integrated approach to affect lasting change. The company is meeting the immediate needs of the hungry with direct aid through financial contributions and donations of food. Kraft Foods and its Foundation have donated nearly $1 billion in cash and food to organizations since 1990. In the United States alone, they've provided over one billion servings of food during the past 10 years.