New campaign launched for End Child Hunger in Alabama

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End Child in Hunger in Alabama, a statewide initiative launched from the Hunger Solutions Institute at Auburn University, has a new marketing campaign.

The "Every Meal Matters" public service announcement will air on eight television stations in Alabama, plus one in Columbus, Georgia, to bring awareness to End Child Hunger in Alabama.

"The alarming truth is that one in four children in Alabama is food insecure," said Harriet Giles, managing director of the Hunger Solutions Institute. "With the commitment of the End Child Hunger in Alabama Task Force and partnerships throughout the state, together we are making a difference.

"By 2020, our goal is for Alabama to be one of the states with the greatest child food security and a model for others to follow."

Since End Child Hunger in Alabama was launched three years ago, the number of meals served through the USDA's summer feeding program has doubled. In addition, the number of children receiving breakfast in the classroom, rather than before school begins, has increased as well. Giles said incorporating breakfast into the school day helps children focus and perform better academically and behaviorally.

Joining Giles for the announcement of the new campaign Monday at Glen Iris Elementary School in Birmingham were Katie Wilson, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services; Dr. Reed Dimmit of Children's of Alabama; Mike Wilson, principal of Glen Iris Elementary; Amanda Storey, executive director at Jones Valley Teaching Farm; and Melanie Bridgeforth, executive director at VOICES for Alabama's Children.

Deputy Under Secretary Wilson praised Alabama for the notable strides it is making in addressing child food insecurity by implementing creative marketing and service delivery methods, such as the "Break for a Plate" summer feeding marketing campaign, breakfast in the classroom options and suppers for at-risk children.

Another highlight of the launch featured the innovative partnership between Birmingham City Schools and Jones Valley Teaching Farm, which has resulted in the implementation of a healthy food systems curriculum. By providing gardens in the schools, Jones Valley is teaching hands-on food and nutrition education from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Hunger as a health issue was brought to the forefront by Dimmit, who acknowledged that food insecurity and obesity often go hand-in-hand. This is especially relevant for Alabama, which has one of the highest obesity rates in the nation.

To address the critical issue of food deserts, where fresh produce is not accessible, VOICES is sponsoring the Healthy Food Financing initiative. When fully funded, this revolving loan program will enable small business retailers to open grocery and corner stores stocked with fruits, vegetables and other sources of nourishment that contribute to a healthy lifestyle.

"In order to end child hunger in Alabama, we have to first and foremost ensure our children have access to the food assistance they need. But we also have to examine what we are doing at the macro level to cultivate a strong regional food system and enhance the economic stability of families," said Giles. "The Every Meal Matters campaign is designed to raise public awareness about the causes and consequences of child food insecurity from the micro to the macro levels and encourage all Alabamians to join together in finding sustainable solutions."

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