Child hunger is often seen as an issue that only affects the developing world, but it’s actually a lot closer to home than you might think. In America alone, there are an estimated 16 million children (under the age of 18) living in “food insecure” households — homes where it’s not known when or from where the next meal is going to come.
Back in March, longtime rivals ConAgra Foods and Procter & Gamble, and country singer Hunter Hayes teamed up to help the nation’s largest hunger relief organization, Feeding America, with the 2014 Child Hunger Ends Here campaign, through which the companies helped donate 2.7 million meals to the more than 20 percent of children across the country that are food insecure.
Now actor and new dad-turned-child-advocate Josh Duhamel has teamed up with Unilever’s Project Sunlight and Feeding America to try to change that statistic. The forces have combined to increase nationwide awareness on an issue that is sometimes on the next doorstep, by rallying friends and family to “Share a Meal.”
“As a father, it’s inconceivable to me that the kids I see on the playground, or in my neighborhood, could be from a home that doesn’t have enough food on the table,” Duhamel said in a statement. “I’ve joined Unilever Project Sunlight to bring awareness to the critical issue of child hunger in America, and to demonstrate how together we can help solve this problem if we all do our part.”
Launched in November last year with the help of Duhamel’s wife, Fergie, Project Sunlight is a venture focused on trying to motivate people to create a brighter future for the nation’s children by teaching them to live more sustainably, use less and share more. The initiative recently got award-winning filmmaker and Unilever Bright Future Award recipient, Patrick Creadon, on board to create Going to Bed Hungry: The Changing Face of Child Hunger, a hard-hitting, four-minute documentary looking at how some Americans grapple with the issue of child hunger.
The Unilever Share A Meal Toolkit is available to download at ProjectSunlight.us, where users can watch the video and find more information on how they can get involved, including:
- Help a Family in Your Neighborhood: Simply sharing a meal with a neighbor either in the form of a simple lunch or dinner party, or even packing an extra lunch for your child to take to school, could go a long way.
- Partner with Local Organizations: Local community organizations are great resources for sharing a meal in your area — simply tap into their networks to see how you can help.
- Coordinate with Your Local Food Bank: Whether you wish to volunteer or host your own local food drive, use Feeding America’s online Food Bank Locator tool to get in touch with a food bank in your area.
- Host a Virtual Food Drive: Feeding America’s Personal Fundraiser tool is a great place to start and to reach out to friends, family, and colleagues for contributions.
- Donate: Consider swapping a night out with a night in and share those extra savings with children and families in need in the form of a donation to Feeding America.
- You Buy One, We Give One: Look for the Unilever “You Buy One, We Give One” coupon offer in your Sunday paper on November 16. Redeem at participating stores from November 16–30 and Unilever will donate one meal* to Feeding America when you purchase any participating Unilever product.
- Lend Your Voice: Inspire others by revealing why you’re helping to end child hunger on social media using, “I #ShareAMeal because…”
To broaden the initiative’s scope, Unilever teamed up with Feeding America, which serves 12 million children each year. With access to Feeding America’s 200 nationwide food banks, Unilever has been able to provide nearly 30 million meals to families over the past five years (US$3 million in financial support).
“Project Sunlight was started on the premise of encouraging people to take small steps toward creating a brighter future for children, and we truly believe that small actions can add up to a big impact,” said Kees Kruythoff, President of Unilever, North America. “Unilever has a responsibility to be a part of the solution to this solvable problem, which is why we are rallying not only our consumers, but also our partners, retailers and employees to prove that there is power in numbers to help end child hunger in America.”
Unilever’s efforts to ensure that people’s basic humanitarian needs are met in a sustainable way extend beyond the U.S. Last month, the company pledged to help 25 million people worldwide gain access to basic toilet and sanitation facilities. And just days earlier, the organization teamed up with the UK government to launch a joint initiative to use new social business models to improve health, hygiene and livelihoods for 100 million people by 2025.
*$1 helps provide 9 meals secured by Feeding America on behalf of local food banks. $0.111 from each qualifying coupon redemption will be donated to Feeding America. Unilever guarantees a minimum donation of $150,000 and a maximum donation of $200,000 from 11/16/14 to 11/30/14 date through the redemption of each coupon. Meal claims valid as of 5/29/14 through 12/31/14. Limit 1 per person, per household.