AS school winds down for the summer, children across the country are looking forward to playing baseball, softball and soccer, riding their bikes, running and other outdoor activities.
However, for one of every five children — 20% of U.S. children — who live in a household that struggles to put food on the table, it's also the time of the year when they are unsure where their meals will come from without access to school nutrition programs.
This is why America's egg farmers, as part of the "Good Egg Project," have joined with Share Our Strength's "No Kid Hungry" initiative to encourage others to help fight childhood hunger so all children in America can access the food they need every day, according to an announcement from the American Egg Board (AEB).
"As egg farmers, it's essential that we do our part to help feed hungry people, and we are committed to providing Americans, especially children, with high-quality-protein eggs so they can keep energized and perform their best," said AEB chair Roger Deffner, an egg producer from Everett, Wash.
American egg producers have donated more than 48 million eggs — 4 million doz. — to local food banks across the country since starting an annual egg donation program in 2009, and "we are proud to partner with Share Our Strength (to make additional donations) to feed kids in need," he said.
"Childhood hunger is a nationwide problem, (but) the good news is that it is a solvable problem," said Billy Shore, founder and chief executive officer of Share Our Strength.
The No Kid Hungry initiative seeks to ensure that kids in need are getting the healthful food they need every day, he said.
"Working with partners like America's egg farmers, we are connecting more kids to effective nutrition programs inside and outside the classroom and teaching families how to prepare affordable, healthful meals," Shore said.
Every American can join in and show their commitment to fighting childhood hunger by simply taking the Good Egg Project pledge at www.incredibleegg.org/good-egg-project, Deffner said. For every pledge, America's egg farmers will donate one egg to local food banks to help alleviate childhood hunger.
For instance, the website shows that 1,533 pledges have been made in Minnesota, which means that egg producers there have donated 128 doz. eggs to local food banks, and 2,139 pledges have been made in Indiana, which means that producers there have donated 178 doz. eggs to local food banks.
From California to New York, egg producers have been providing eggs to consumers for generations, noted Bob Krouse, an egg producer and president of Midwest Poultry Services in Mentone, Ind.
"I know this because I'm a fifth-generation egg farmer, (and) egg farmers like myself take helping those in need seriously," which is why egg producers this year have joined Share Our Strength's initiative to increase awareness of and respond to childhood hunger, he said in a message posted on his website.
No one wants kids in their communities to go hungry, and as part of the Good Egg Project, egg producers are doing their part to respond to this issue. Krouse noted that the 48 million doz. eggs that have been donated since 2009 would fill 400 school buses.
Krouse said making sure each of those busloads of eggs comes from healthy hens, is of the highest quality and is nutritious "starts on the farm by doing what's right for our hens."
Once eggs are laid, they are washed, graded, packaged and shipped to a grocery store — or a food bank — within 72 hours, he said. This ensures that children and families in need are getting a fresh product that helps keep them energized, he said.
Krouse urged people to join America's egg farmers in this effort by taking the Good Egg Project pledge.
AEB, in its announcement, noted that eggs are an important source of high-quality protein, as well as vitamin D, which aids calcium in its role in the development of strong bones.
Furthermore, AEB said, research shows that children who begin their day with breakfast are more physically active and have better learning and test scores in the classroom.
AEB manages the egg checkoff, which collects 10 cents per every 30 doz. case of eggs from egg firms with 75,000 or more hens to fund egg advertising and promotion, consumer information, industry research and producer education. Additional information is available from www.incredibleegg.org.
The Good Egg Project is an AEB program that explains how eggs are produced and how producers give back to their communities and urges people to help fight childhood hunger. It also has videos featuring producers from across the country talking about their farms and farming practices. Additional information is available at www.incredibleegg.org/good-egg-project.
The Share Our Strength No Kid Hungry initiative is made up of private citizens, public officials, business leaders and non-governmental organizations that seek to provide innovative solutions to hunger in their communities. Additional information is available from www.NoKidHungry.org.
America's dairy farmers and importers — in response to domestic hunger that affects one of every six Americans — have launched a $100,000 grant program in partnership with Feeding America and the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics to address hunger, according to an announcement.
The National Dairy Council said the partnership will award grants of $10,000 each to 10 food banks across the country within the Feeding America network to support increased access to dairy products and other in-demand, nutrient-rich foods, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins.
Dairy producers have made a nearly 100-year commitment to the health and wellness of Americans, noted Jerry Messer, a dairy producer from North Dakota.
Milk is one of the five most requested items at food banks, but of all the foods the banks distribute, only 5% are dairy products, said Maura Daly, chief communications and development officer at Feeding America. The partnership can leverage collective resources to help make sure food banks have a constant supply of milk and dairy products, she said.
The council manages the dairy checkoff, which funds dairy advertising and promotion, consumer information, industry research and producer education. More information on the partnership is available from www.nationaldairycouncil.org, www.feedingamerica.org and the academy's website at www.eatright.org.