The truth of childhood hunger in North Carolina is hard to swallow, but the state's pork producers are collaborating with area food banks to help educate people about this epidemic and encourage them to be part of the solution.
"It's alarming to learn that one in five North Carolina kids under 18 is hungry, and for children younger than five, the number jumps to 25%," says Deborah Johnson, chief executive officer of the North Carolina Pork Council. "That's why we're excited to invest crucial seed money through the Pork Checkoff for The Food Effect."
The NCPC has teamed up with the North Carolina Association of Feeding America Food Banks to launch The Food Effect campaign, which is driven by an online network designed to educate, involve and unite people in the fight against childhood hunger. The site dispels myths about hunger and includes an action center where people can find ways to support area food banks.
The campaign also reaches out to people through the social media, where pork producers' efforts are shared on Facebook or Twitter. In addition, North Carolina's pork producers are helping fight childhood hunger by addressing the issue through their Operation Main Street speeches to community groups, Chambers of Commerce and other organizations.
"In North Carolina, where unemployment is high, the number of hungry people is increasing drastically," says Ben Outlaw, NCPC president. "Pork producers have a great history of giving back to their communities, and The Food Effect was a way we could help spread the word and help families who must choose between grocery shopping and paying the mortgage or utility bills."
When the NCPC approached the state's food banks about how they could help, leaders urged pork producers to help build awareness about childhood hunger and encourage more financial contributions to food banks. These contributions will allow these organizations to purchase healthy food, including lean proteins like pork, for the families they serve.
North Carolina's food banks are very efficient with the money they receive, says Johnson, who notes that approximately 95 cents of each dollar contributed goes toward helping people in need.
Alan Briggs, executive director of the NC Association of Feeding America Food Banks, praises pork producers' willingness to get involved. "Their recognition of how efficient and effective food banks are in our work gives us credibility with other businesses and donors. The pork producers also reach a wider audience and bring awareness about children hunger to large new sectors of the community that we not have reached before."
The NCPC's efforts highlight how pork producers live the principles of the We Care initiative and contribute to a better quality of life in their communities.
"By putting their time, money and energy into our efforts to reduce child hunger, the members of the NCPC have demonstrated their commitment to the children of North Carolina and Feeding America Food Banks," Briggs says. "They are showing that 'We Care' is not just a slogan, but an honest commitment to make a difference."