In response, the nonprofit group Hunger Free America is ramping up its efforts to publicize the USDA National Hunger Hotline – which can be reached at 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE (for Spanish) – through which callers can locate summer meals sites for kids, food pantries or soup kitchens for families, and other government and private meals programs near them.
Even though children need just as much, if not more, nutrition during the summer months, only 13.3 percent of Tennessee children who receive free and reduced school meals receive summer meals. The group said raising awareness about this program is the single greatest barrier to participation.
Summer meals are available to all kids 18 and under, and no identification is required.
Hunger Free America also just launched, www.hungervolunteer.org., which is a state-of-the art volunteer matching portal to make it easier to mobilize the unique talents and skills of each individual volunteer in order to take the biggest bite out of hunger.
“Now everyone can get – or give – help. If you’re hungry or at risk of hunger, it can be a daunting task to obtain food and benefits. The hunger hotline can immediately help connect families with food providers in their area,” Hunger Free America’s CEO Joel Berg said. “We are starting a national awareness campaign and want to make sure that people who need help can get it quickly and easily. We also want to make sure that all Americans can give back, by volunteering in ways that move beyond soup kitchen work to attack hunger at its root causes. ”