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Nick Cannon

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Help Stamp Out Hunger

Posted: 05/10/11 01:58 PM ET

I'll be the first to admit that I'm a very fortunate guy. I've been steadily employed in the entertainment business since I was a teenager, having produced and appeared in a number of successful television series and films. I'm currently chairman of MTV Networks Kids & Family Group, I host the hit show America's Got Talent and a popular New York morning radio show, and am about to release a comedy album. And my amazing wife and I just welcomed two beautiful babies on our third wedding anniversary. I don't say this to brag -- I'm extremely grateful that I've had so many great opportunities and blessings, especially for someone who's only 30 years old. I'm merely reflecting on my life as I'm preparing for what is undoubtedly going to be the most important and challenging job of my life -- parenthood.

Like most new dads, I've been spending a lot of time thinking about what the future will hold for my twins, and what kind of world they'll live in. I'm extremely thankful that I'll be able to provide for them, but I realize that right now, a lot of parents in this country are struggling to give their kids even the most basic necessities of life -- such as food. I think back to my own childhood, when we sometimes had to visit food banks to get food on our table. I know firsthand what it feels like to have to overcome the feelings of inadequacy, embarrassment and shame and ask for help. It's one of the hardest things anyone will ever have to face.

That's why I've started working with Feeding America, the nation's leading domestic hunger relief agency. I'm acutely aware that celebrities have the ability to reach a great number of people with any type of messages we want to convey, and I'm choosing to convey a message of hope. A message to the 50 million Americans struggling with hunger that they are not alone, and that needing help is nothing to be ashamed of. As a new father, it is especially heartbreaking to know that 1 in 4 children in this country are not getting enough to eat on a regular basis. Every parent wants the best for their children, and the fact is that kids cannot learn, grow and thrive without proper nutrition.

Because of my own personal history with hunger, I am compelled to do something to help. Not just for those who are in need, but also to start setting good examples for my children on altruism and on being good citizens. I'm very proud of my mother and how she handled the struggles she faced, and I want to honor her by being the best father I can be. As a new member of Feeding America's Entertainment Council, I'll help raise awareness about the issues around hunger and help mobilize the public to get involved. My first "assignment" is to promote Stamp Out Hunger, the largest single-day food drive in the world, taking place on Saturday, May 14th.

Stamp Out Hunger is in its 19th year, and has collected over 1 billion pounds of food over the years. Organized by the National Association of Letter Carriers, the food drive is carried out in every postal district in the country. It's very easy to participate. Just place non-perishable food items in your mailbox or hand to your letter carrier, and the postal workers will make sure it gets delivered to those who need it most. They'll distribute the food by partnering with Feeding America, which runs over 200 food banks around the country and feeds 37 million people each year. The collected food will be distributed among 10,000 communities, including the many disaster-stricken states.

We Americans have a strong history of coming together when we have to, so I urge everyone to join in on the Stamp Out Hunger food drive and also support hunger relief throughout the year. Even though I visited food banks as a child, I was shocked to learn just how many in this country are facing hunger. On the faces of the men, women and children that depend on food banks every day in our communities are reminders that each of us has the power and obligation to make a difference. What will you do to help? I want my kids to grow up in a country where people care about their neighbors and will gladly help those who have fallen on hard times, don't you? Go to www.feedingamerica.org to find a local food bank near you and get involved.