As students across the country head back to school, one of America’s best known “students,” actor Mark Salling is partnering with ConAgra Foods to raise awareness about a serious issue facing more than 17 million children nationwide: child hunger.

Mark Salling helps pack bags in Hollywood as part of the launch of ConAgra Foods' Child Hunger Ends Here fall campaign.
Mark Salling helps pack bags in Hollywood as part of the launch of ConAgra Foods' Child Hunger Ends Here fall campaign.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 17 million children are at risk of hunger. That’s nearly one in four kids who are struggling with hunger – in every state, every county and every school in America. Hunger is a serious issue for kids during the school year because research has shown that even mild under-nutrition experienced by young children during critical periods of growth impacts their school performance, behavior and cognitive development. The reality is that students who are hungry may not perform well academically.

This fall, ConAgra Foods is continuing its Child Hunger Ends Here campaign by partnering with Feeding America, Schools Fight Hunger and thousands of schools across the country. The program will rally schools to participate in nationwide food and UPC label drives this fall, working towards ConAgra Foods’ goal of five million meals donated to children and families facing hunger in America during the 2011-12 school year.

“Nearly one in four children in this country doesn’t have enough food to live active, healthy lives. Hunger undermines the success of students in school, but we can solve the problem,” said Salling. “Get involved in the Child Hunger Ends Here school food drives so no student goes hungry.”

Parents and teachers can visit ChildHungerEndsHere.com to register their school for the program. Each school that participates will be entered for a chance to win one of several prizes, including the grand prize – $10,000 to fund school field trips of their choosing.

From now through the end of the year, there are two simple ways that schools, parents and students can help in the fight against child hunger in their own communities:

  • Food Drives – Participate in or host school-sponsored food drives to collect food for local food banks.
  • UPCs – Parents can help students collect UPC codes from any ConAgra Foods brands, including Banquet, Chef Boyardee, Healthy Choice, Hunt’s, Marie Callender’s, Manwich, Orville Redenbacher’s, Peter Pan and Snack Pack. For each UPC collected, ConAgra Foods will donate one meal* to Feeding America – the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization.

“We’re dedicated to helping solve child hunger, but we know we can’t do it alone. Schools – parents, teachers, students and administrators – are a powerful community that plays a lead role in fighting child hunger in the United States,” said Gary Rodkin, CEO of ConAgra Foods. “By bringing together thousands of schools across the country with one goal – ending child hunger – we know we are one step closer to ending child hunger in America.”

The Child Hunger Ends Here campaign builds on a commitment by ConAgra Foods and the ConAgra Foods Foundation to end child hunger. Since 1993, ConAgra Foods has donated more than $35 million and 260 million pounds of food to Feeding America. The five-year, $10 million pledge from the ConAgra Foods Foundation is the largest donation ever made to Feeding America specifically to fight child hunger.

“ConAgra Foods is a longtime, committed partner of Feeding America, and we are incredibly grateful for their dedication to fighting domestic childhood hunger,” said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America. “With nearly one in four children across the nation struggling with hunger, we are in crisis right now. No American, and especially no child, should go hungry, and we thank ConAgra Foods for making it possible for us to help more families in more neighborhoods across the country this school year.”

For more information, visit www.ChildHungerEndsHere.com/schools. You can also follow the discussion at www.facebook.com/ConAgraFoods and www.twitter.com/ConAgraFoods.

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