IMPACT
04/06/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Celebs Urge Action Against Hunger, Cite Disturbing New Study

David Arquette, Chairman of the Feeding America Entertainment Council, supported by dozens of other cultural figures and celebrities, have come together to call for urgent action against hunger in America. As the Hunger in America 2010 study showed, the number of Americans who've had to rely on food banks for meals has increased at an alarming rate. This group of celebrities aims to keep this issue on our national radar.

Read the full letter below:

To Community Leaders and Fellow Artists:

Right here, in the land of plenty, the USDA estimates that more than 49 million Americans are facing hunger. Sadly, as a result of the weakened economy, many families and individuals are facing hunger for the first time.

We grow enough food in the United States to feed everyone in the world, yet according to Hunger in America 2010, a new in depth study released by Feeding America, more than 37 million people--that is one in eight Americans--receive food assistance from Feeding America's network of food banks each year. This study reflects a 46 percent increase in the number of new people visiting the nation's food pantries, soup kitchens and emergency shelters compared to 2006. This represents the largest increase in the organization's history. As members of Feeding America's Entertainment Council, and as involved citizens who have a passion for ensuring all people in this great nation have access to nutritious food, we find this reality reprehensible.

In this time of a shocking surge in domestic hunger, we have an individual and collective moral and ethical obligation to get involved on the front lines of this social and economic crisis. Encouragingly, history paints a positive reflection of the collective force that we can create to end hunger. During the Great Depression the first Food Stamp Program emerged and, in 1946, our federal government passed the National School Lunch Act. Although America saw tremendous economic growth during the late 1950's, hunger continued to spread. Urged on by the collective voices of individuals across this nation, in 1961 the federal government revitalized the Food Stamp Program. With the power of a nation behind it, undaunted by the seemingly endless challenge to eradicate hunger, in 1969 Congress created the Women, Infants & Children (WIC) program, supplemented Head Start nutritional programs, and established a nutritional program for the elderly. Through the late 1970s, America collectively stepped up and faced hunger straight-on and millions found relief at the hand of our individual and combined efforts.

America's history-- our history-- is an irrefutable testament to our ability to strike decisively NOW- once again- to eradicate the current growth in hunger across our nation. Each of us, through our individual efforts and collective fortitude can make a difference. Change starts now, with you! With numbers so tragic, we urge that each of us asks ourselves, who among us is impacted by hunger? Have we just closed our eyes in denial that the all too silent crisis even exists? We must open our eyes and wonder aloud why the Feeding America network is seeing 14 million children at its doors -- a 55 percent increase over four years prior - receiving emergency food assistance. Why are we serving 1 million more people than we were four years ago? Why do millions of people in the United States of America have to make a choice between food and other basic necessities like rent or mortgage, utilities and healthcare costs?

From Hollywood to Detroit to Atlanta to Washington, DC., food banks and communities are working together, in partnership with local, state and federal governments to solve the issue of hunger. But, we need support from every individual in this nation to help us generate political will and public support to create a hunger-free America, and that includes all of us in the entertainment industry.

We are in a unique position to mobilize people to volunteer, to stand up and act, to vote in support and to go out and feed America. If the hundreds of thousands of actors, athletes, musicians, artists and community leaders around our country would take the lead by helping to mobilize people to become involved in the fight against hunger, it would dramatically ease the pain of the men, women and children who wake up staring hunger in the face.

We therefore call upon our entertainment colleagues and community leaders to work together to take action against hunger. Let's add another page to the continued history of success in our nation's ability to rise up and defeat hunger whenever and where ever it rears its ugly head. Don't delay. Please visit www.feedingamerica.org to learn how to become an anti-hunger advocate, find the Feeding America food bank that serves your community or to make a donation.

Thank you.

David Arquette, Chairman - Feeding America Entertainment Council

Ben Affleck, Laila Ali, Jennifer Aniston, Mario Batali, Bernard Berrian, Curtis Conway, Courteney Cox, Marcia Cross, Sheryl Crow, Matt Damon, Laura Dern, Rocco Dispirito, Shepard Fairey, Diane Farr, Sara Gore, Josh Groban, Scott Hamilton, Ben Harper, Samantha Harris, Jimmy Jean- Louis, Dhani Jones, Nick Lachey, Ali Larter, Derrek Lee, Katie Lee, Kimberly Locke, Benji & Joel Madden, Katharine McPhee, OneRepublic, Tyler Perry, Rachael Ray, Sanya Richards, Aaron Ross, Adam Shankman, Kate Shindle, Curtis Stone, Alison Sweeney, Phil Vassar, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Scott Wolf.