Hunger Free America has launched a Virginia campaign to make it easier for hungry Americans to obtain food and for anyone to volunteer in the most effective ways to end hunger. Nearly one in ten (10.1 percent) of Virginia State residents, and one in six (16 percent) of children live in households that can’t always afford enough food, the organization said. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funds a toll-free hotline to make it easier for them to access food from both private and governmental resources.
The hotline can be reached at 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8- HAMBRE (for Spanish) from Monday through Friday (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST). Hunger Free America, formerly known as the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, has just launched a coast-to-coast outreach campaign to increase the use of the hotline. Hunger Free America is operating the hotline nationwide as part of a USDA National Hunger Clearinghouse contract.
The National Hunger Hotline staff connects callers with emergency food providers in their community, government assistance, nutritional assistance programs, and various services that promote self-sufficiency. During summer months, the hotline provides information about meal sites where children 18 years old and under can get free, nutritious meals through the USDA Summer Food Service Program.
Free summer meals are offered in all 50 states at participating schools, libraries, pools, and other local sites, funded by the federal government. In 2015, a total of 164 million meals and snacks were served to typically low-income children.
Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon highlights the importance of the hotline in the fight against hunger. “USDA’s nutrition assistance programs provide a nutrition safety net, helping to put food on the table in households across America. And the toll-free hotline is there for those in need to access this assistance, as well as help provided by private resources,” he said.
Hunger Free America also just launched, www.hungervolunteer.org, a state-of-the art volunteer matching portal to make it easier to mobilize the unique talents and skills of each individual volunteer in order to take the biggest bite out of hunger.
Hunger Free America’s CEO Joel Berg said, “Now everyone can get – or give – help. If you’re hungry or at risk of hunger, it can be a daunting task to obtain food and benefits. The hunger hotline can immediately help connect families with food providers in their area. We are starting a national awareness campaign and want to make sure that people who need help can get it quickly and easily. We also want to make sure that all Americans can give back, by volunteering in ways that move beyond soup kitchen work to attack hunger at its root causes. ”