Morgan Stanley is pleased to announce Fill the Plate, a nationwide initiative to combat children's hunger during weekends and after-school hours. This comes as Morgan Stanley celebrates its 75th anniversary and continues an important part of its heritage: advocating on behalf of children's health.
As part of Fill the Plate, Morgan Stanley is partnering with Feeding America, the nation's leading domestic hunger-relief charity, to expand and strengthen its BackPack Program supplying children with backpacks full of nutritious food that they can take home over the weekend - when they are most at risk of hunger. Fill the Plate also includes an investment in Feeding America's National Produce Program to expand the availability of fresh produce to low-income communities throughout the U.S. and address childhood obesity by promoting consumption of nutritious foods.
"Good nutrition is essential for children's success in school and throughout life," said James Gorman, President and CEO of Morgan Stanley. "We look forward to partnering with Feeding America, an organization that knows how to make a genuine impact in communities across the U.S. I am particularly pleased that this initiative renews our commitment to children's health and giving back to our communities during Morgan Stanley's 75th anniversary year."
While more than 19 million children receive free or reduced-priced meals through the National School Lunch Program, there are no targeted federal resources to supply meals to these children during the weekends. Feeding America's BackPack Program provides an innovative solution to this problem: backpacks filled with shelf stable, nutritious food for children to take home when the weekend arrives. These free backpacks contain a minimum of three wholesome meals that children can prepare themselves if necessary.
"Feeding America and our network of food banks are immeasurably grateful to Morgan Stanley for its innovative and focused response in joining our mission to provide children with nutritional food products," said Vicki Escarra, President and CEO of Feeding America. "The occurrence of child hunger in America is a stark reality deserving of immediate attention. For far too many vulnerable children, access to nutritious food ends with the school day, leaving them with inadequate nutrition at breakfast, after school and on weekends. We must continue our critical work with dedicated partners such as Morgan Stanley to increase public awareness and response. We applaud and welcome Morgan Stanley to the frontline in our continued fight to end hunger within our lifetime."
Morgan Stanley will partner with Feeding America on four fronts:
Helping 21 food banks nationwide to expand the BackPack Program to more children in their respective areas.
Supporting a pilot of BackPack programs during the summer. Because children are out of school and cannot access the free or reduced-price meals they receive during the school year, they are at even greater risk of hunger during the summer months.
Supporting an evaluation of the Back Pack Program to assess its long-term impact. Conducted jointly by Feeding America and the University of Illinois, the evaluation will focus on the BackPack Program's ability to provide food security, increase the number of meals that families eat at home and improve school attendance. Findings will be used to improve and expand the program.
Investing in the National Produce Program to increase access to fresh produce and combat childhood obesity. Morgan Stanley's commitment will support food banks' efforts to form relationships with farmers and increase donations of local produce; value-added processing activities including the harvesting of crops and the packing of produce into family-sized bags; and transportation of fresh produce to 21 markets identified jointly with Feeding America. Morgan Stanley's support will help provide more than 23 million servings of produce to hungry people across the U.S.
"Children in the U.S. need not only full plates but also the right kind of foods at every meal," said Joan Steinberg, Global Head of Philanthropy at Morgan Stanley. "Our Fill the Plate initiative goes to the heart of both issues and marks an important new chapter in the Morgan Stanley Foundation's ongoing efforts to improve pediatric health."
The Morgan Stanley Foundation has advocated for pediatric health during its 50-year history through initiatives such as the Global Alliance for Children's Health and the Million Meal Summer program. Through Fill the Plate, Morgan Stanley is dedicated to addressing food insecurity. Currently, one in four children in the U.S. does not have enough to eat, according to Feeding America's 2010 Hunger Study.
Morgan Stanley's $5 million commitment will help Feeding America to fulfill its goal of doubling the number of backpacks distributed through the BackPack Program by 2014. This goal was exceeded in fiscal year 2009 alone, with more than 3.7 million packs distributed. Feeding America aims to increase the number of packs distributed by another 25% - more than 900,000 additional packs - by 2014.
Fill the Plate will target the following 21 cities and communities:
New York City
Northern New Jersey
Salt Lake City
Southern New Jersey
Westchester County, NY
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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.