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An Unusual Partnership Works to Feed Hungry Kids

Because of the COVID pandemic, one of every four children in the United States could face hunger this year. (Carlos David/Adobe Stock)
Because of the COVID pandemic, one of every four children in the United States could face hunger this year. (Carlos David/Adobe Stock)
September 23, 2020

HARRISBURG, Pa. - A group battling childhood hunger has enlisted a major media company to help get meals to kids while schools are closed by the COVID pandemic.

"Turn Up, Fight Hunger" is an unusual collaboration between the No Kid Hungry campaign and Discovery, Inc. In less than a year, the partnership has helped connect children across the country with more than 520 million meals, and with many schools closed, the task of getting food to kids has grown even harder.

Since the pandemic began, said Eleni Towns, the No Kid Hungry campaign's associate director, as many as one in four face hunger.

"Kids need food to learn and to grow healthy," she said, "but districts across Pennsylvania are facing really significant challenges in terms of having to reach those kids."

When schools first closed earlier this year, she said, No Kid Hungry invested more than $27 million in schools and community groups nationwide.

Alexa Verveer, Discovery's executive vice president for public policy, corporate and government affairs, said its slate of television programs reaches one of every four women daily in the United States, so it decided it was a good fit to spread the message and spur action.

"We can bring a passionate audience on the Discovery side, coupled with expertise on our nonprofit partner's side, to deliver on doing something that's truly meaningful," she said.

The "Turn up, Fight Hunger" five-year goal is to get 1 billion meals to kids across the country, Verveer said.

Towns said charitable groups can't do it all; government programs play an important role fighting food insecurity for lower-income families.

"We've been advocating strongly to extend waivers and flexibility at the federal level to allow schools to adapt meal programs to meet the need," she said, "and really making sure that other federal programs, like SNAP or Pandemic EBT or WIC, also have the flexibility to meet the needs of low-income parents."

Towns said No Kid Hungry has committed to investing another $35 million this fall to help ensure that kids who have depended on school meal programs get enough to eat.

Disclosure: Discovery Inc contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Environment, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Poverty Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA