July 9, 2010 at 1:43 pm , by Lisa M. Gerry
American Idol alum, Katharine McPhee, has teamed up ConAgra Foods Foundation and Feeding America for an amazing project called, Hunger-Free Summer. 19.5 million American children are on free or reduced meals during the school year, and when school lets out, only 2.2 million of them are getting that free food over the summer. That leaves 17 million kids who go hungry during the summer because they’re no longer getting government-funded meals. “We’re working with 23 food banks and trying to bridge that gap,” says McPhee. “Our goal is to feed 25 percent more kids this summer than last.”
I spoke with Katharine about what drew her to this cause, how she’s helping, what we can do to eradicate hunger in America—and I couldn’t let her go without finding out what other projects she has up her sleeve.
Were you surprised by the hunger crisis in America?
When I heard that 1 in 4 kids don’t know where their next meal is coming from, I was shocked. A friend of mine is a schoolteacher in Minnesota and she said she had a student who was sneaking sandwiches because they were starving. And when kids are hungry, they can’t focus in school and they sometimes cause problems in the classroom. I just didn’t think about hunger existing in this country—especially not in LA where I grew up.
You’ll be visiting food banks in at least six cities. What will you being doing there?
My main duty is to talk to food bank representatives and see how we can make the program better every summer. Many of the kids’ parents will be working, so they’ll be dropped off at supervised areas close to the food bank. And they spend their days there because they get lunch and dinner. So I’m there just to remind them that they’re kids, play with them and maybe sing a couple songs with them.
What can our readers do to help?
You can go to my website, katharinemcphee.com, and there are links to the programs that I’m working on. There are so many ways you can make a difference. In these economic times, it’s really hard to ask people for money. I get that, but this issue is not just about money. It’s about giving time.
Find out what Katharine is up to next…