More than One in Five Children in the U.S. Face Hunger, According to New USDA Report

September 5, 2013

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced yesterday that nearly 16 million children in America face hunger. As a part of ongoing efforts to raise national awareness about childhood hunger and encourage the public to support their local food bank, today Feeding America–the nation's leading domestic hunger-relief organization–and the Ad Council launch an original Child Hunger PSA campaign.

The campaign includes new television, radio, print, outdoor and digital public service ads (PSAs) that will be distributed this week to media outlets nationwide. The new campaign is an extension of the Hunger Prevention campaign, first launched in 2008. The PSAs were launched this morning, September 5, as part of Hunger Action Day, which kicks off September as Feeding America's Hunger Action Month.

The Child Hunger campaign was created pro bono by ad agency Cutwater in San Francisco and was inspired by interviews Savannah Guthrie conducted with children facing hunger during a"TODAY Takes Action" series segment. Savannah asked children what they would do if they were superheroes with the power to end world hunger.

"My superhero is the food angel who leaves baskets of food outside the house with all the food the family needs," one young girl responded, and she drew an angel with a basket of food.

"Child hunger is a serious issue in this country," said Bob Aiken, CEO of Feeding America."Of the 37 million people Feeding America serves, nearly 14 million are children. We don't need superheroes to solve this problem–we need everyday heroes. We hope the PSAs will raise awareness of the magnitude of our problem and motivate others to take action. Together, we can solve hunger and ensure children have the fuel they need to grow healthy and strong."

Good nutrition is important in establishing a good foundation that has implications for a child's future physical and mental health, academic achievement, and economic productivity. Unfortunately, food insecurity is an obstacle that threatens that critical foundation when children live in households where they are unable to consistently access enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life.1 Although food insecurity is harmful to any individual, it can be particularly devastating among children due to their increased vulnerability and the potential for long-term consequences.

The new television Child Hunger PSAs highlight how food banks work collaboratively with their communities to bring surplus food to children and families in need, including working with farmers, grocery workers, food bank employees and volunteers. In an effort to bring the young girl's idea of a"food angel" to life, each contributor is shown with illustrated angel wings while the voiceover explains,"They've earned their wings and you can too." The TV PSAs were filmed with FOOD Share, Inc., a Feeding America member food bank in Oxnard, Calif. The spots feature many real volunteers, employees and community partners of the food bank.

The new campaign also includes radio PSAs recorded pro bono by notable celebrities that will be rolling out this fall. Participating celebrities include Kelly Clarkson, Laila Ali, Savannah Guthrie and Curtis Stone.

Each Child Hunger PSA invites viewers to visit FeedingAmerica.org to support Feeding America and its nationwide network of local food banks. To complement the TV creative, radio PSAs feature children who encourage listeners to understand we all have a role to play in getting more food to people in need and to take action.

"This new campaign is a powerful extension of our efforts with Feeding America to communicate the prevalence of hunger and particularly its impact on children throughout the country," said Peggy Conlon, President and CEO of the Ad Council."As the empowering PSAs poignantly illustrate, we all have the opportunity to be food angels to children and families in need."

The Ad Council tested the new PSAs with consumers in June of this year as part of an online quantitative study with Harris Interactive. More than 75 percent of those who viewed the ads felt they could make a difference in the fight against child hunger and were inspired to donate to their local food bank.

"This campaign is fundamentally different in that it is not building awareness around the problem. It's building awareness around the solution," said Chuck McBride, Founder & Chief Creative Officer of Cutwater."Hunger is an epidemic in this country, yet unlike others, we can fix it."

Per the Ad Council model, the Child Hunger PSAs are being distributed to media outlets nationwide and will run and air during advertising time donated by the media. Since the launch of the national Hunger Prevention campaign, media outlets have donated more than $205 million in time and space for Feeding America PSAs.

[i] Coleman-Jensen, A., Nord, M. & Singh, A. (2013). Household Food Security in the United States in 2012.USDA ERS.


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