Roker is the spokesman for Child Hunger Ends Here which is an outreach involving NBC and ConAgra Foods. Roker says this effort is a call to action, and provides an easy way for everyone to join the fight against hunger by helping to fill the emergency food gaps of families.
Roker and his Today Show colleague Natalie Morales are working on an upcoming online special that tells the story of several families across the country facing hunger under different circumstances.
One single mother, an army veteran, turned to community food banks when she found she couldn't stretch her paycheck to pay for enough food for herself and her two young daughters and also pay for rent, transportation and shelter. Another couple with several kids finds themselves going from earning $3,000 a month to being unemployed. "One day, you're just hungry," says the father.
They also spend time with the CEO of the nation's biggest hunger relief non-profit, Feeding America. That CEO, Vicki Escarra, talks about the large numbers of new working-class poor who would have previously been considered middle class.
"The people I have seen in the last year are formerly employed teachers, people in the service industry across America and they've lost their jobs," she said.
The leading authority on how food insecurity and hunger affects a developing child, Dr. John Cook of Boston Medical Center, is also interviewed.
"Children experience hunger as a very toxic kind of stress," he said. "They'll have more behavioral problems in school, problematic interactions with their peers, and in adolescence it can even lead to depression and suicide. It can have a very major effect on their learning readiness."
There are a number of ways to get involved and support the cause, including:
- Go Grocery Shopping: From March through May 2011, consumers can purchase select ConAgra Foods brands and, when they enter their code online, the company will donate one meal to Feeding America - up to 2.5 million meals this during the time period.
Visit http://www.childhungerendshere.com/ and enter the eight-digit purchase code found on specially marked packages. Participating brands include: Banquet, Chef Boyardee, Healthy Choice, Fresh Mixers, Kid Cuisine, Marie Callender's and Peter Pan. Every code entered is another meal that ConAgra Foods will enable Feeding America to secure through local food banks. Codes on specially marked packages can be redeemed through August 2011.
- Text to Donate: Consumers can make a financial contribution to Feeding America through a mobile giving campaign. Simply text "FEEDKIDS" to 50555 to make a $10 donation directly to Feeding America through June 30, 2011.
- Watch the Special: On March 19 in select markets, "Child Hunger Ends Here: A Special Report," a 30-minute special hosted by Al Roker with Natalie Morales, will premiere on NBC highlighting the personal stories of families struggling with hunger and showcasing how Americans can work together to tackle this issue. Check local listings for viewing times. During the special, viewers can also participate in an online event that will shed additional light on the child hunger issue.
By following #ChildHungerEndsHere on Twitter during the broadcast, participants can ask questions from an expert panel, as well as learn about ways to get involved. In addition, a series of PSAs will run in select markets highlighting key child hunger issues and the text to donate program.
- Spread the Word: Individuals can get more information on the child hunger issue by following ConAgra Foods on Facebook and Twitter. When you become a fan at www.facebook.com/ConAgraFoods you can see how your donations are making a difference and share your own photos and stories.
(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)