There are more than 50 million Americans who are at risk of hunger in our country. For many people, that number is hard to grasp, hard to put in perspective. Fortunately, hunger is a problem that we can solve.
But no one organization, company or person can do it alone -- it will take a collective effort. At Feeding America, that collective effort includes a combination of individuals, lawmakers, foundations and corporations all working towards one goal: making sure that everyone in the U.S. has access to food.
According to Feeding America's groundbreaking "Map the Meal Gap" research, hunger exists in every county in the United States -- even in the wealthiest. The face of hunger can be that of a neighbor, a co-worker or even a family member. With more than one in six people facing hunger across the nation, it's likely that we all know someone is struggling to make ends meet and put food on the table.
Each year, through its nationwide network of more than 200 member food banks, Feeding America has helped provide nutritious meals to 37 million people in need during these hard times. That includes 14 million children and 3 million seniors.
One of our biggest partners in our fight against hunger has been Unilever, maker of some of the world's iconic foods and personal care brands, including Dove, Suave, Lipton, Hellmann's and Ben + Jerry's. Over the past five years, Unilever has contributed more than 20 million pounds of product and $2.7 million to help Feeding America get more food to people in need. A portion of their funding helps provide food to children facing hunger through community-based programs including The Backpack Program, Kids Cafes, Afterschool Snack Programs and the Summer Food Service Program.
In a new initiative called Cross Off Hunger, Unilever is helping donate two million meals to Feeding America and raising awareness of items needed at local food banks. Throughout the campaign, Unilever is encouraging consumers to help cross hunger off of their to-do lists via in-store displays and by distributing a Sunday newspaper circular that will go to 40 million homes to provide information about hunger in America and the items that food banks need most to feed people in need. Consumers can also visit MakingLifeBetter.com to learn how we can all help in the fight against hunger.
As a Founding Partner of #GivingTuesday, a new movement to transform the way people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season, Unilever is hosting a Twitter party with Feeding America, the FEED Foundation, #GivingTuesday and bloggers on Thursday, November 15 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET. Using the handle @MakeLifeBetter and #BetterTogether, the aim is to engage in a conversation focused on hunger in America, inspire people to take small actions that can add up to a big difference in the world and illustrate the power we have when we come together for a cause. As a first for Unilever, the party is assembling a wide-ranging community of social influencers, foundation spokespeople and brand ambassadors across its portfolio to join together for this important conversation.
Unilever is also galvanizing its employees behind their company's commitment to hunger-relief. On November 27 , to mark #GivingTuesday and support Feeding America during the critical holiday season, Unilever will kick off its first-ever, company-wide food drive where more than 30 Unilever locations will work with their local Feeding America food banks to deliver the most needed food and personal care items this holiday season.
"At Unilever, we've always believed in the power of our brands to improve the quality of people's lives and in doing the right thing," said Christine Cea, Senior Director of Marketing Communications. "Essential to our mission is to work to create a better future every day and inspire people to take small actions that add up to a big difference in the world. #GivingTuesday shares those same principles and, together with Feeding America and driven by the focus on a given day, the impact will be that much greater."
I encourage you, your friends and your followers to join the Twitter party and raise the awareness of the problem of hunger in America and the ways that we can solve it together. Together, we're Feeding America.
This blog is part of our #GivingTuesday series, produced by The Huffington Post and the teams at InterAction, 92nd Street Y,United Nations Foundation, and others. Following Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday -- which takes place for the first time on Tuesday, November 27 -- is a movement intended to open the holiday season on a philanthropic note. Go to www.givingtuesday.org to learn more and get involved.