ATLANTA, July 3, 2012 // PRNewswire // -- Summer break should mean sleeping in, vacations, picnics, catching fire flies and long days spent outside having fun with your friends. But, for many kids, the end of the school year brings a challenge – hunger. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), while more than 21 million school children in America get free or reduced-price school lunches during the school year, just over 3 million of those kids get a free summer meal when school is out.
The Arby's Foundation, in partnership with Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry® campaign, is trying to change this statistic with a Hungry For Happiness mobile tour. The goal of the tour, which is traveling over 8,000 miles to 15 cities across the U.S. through August, is to raise awareness about childhood hunger and increase participation in free summer meal programs in communities nationwide.
"Summer is a vulnerable time for kids who rely on school nutrition programs during the school year, and we are working with Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign to connect kids to over one million more meals during this time period," says Hala Moddelmog, president of Arby's Restaurant Group, Inc. "We believe that every child should have access to the food they need to learn, play and grow. Summer should be a time for happiness for kids, not a time to worry about where their next meal will come from."
"Today, many American families are struggling to make ends meet, and the summer months can be stressful when already-tight food budgets have to stretch even further," says Billy Shore, founder and CEO of Share Our Strength. "The good news is that there are programs available to make sure kids get the healthy food they need, and we're proud to partner with The Arby's Foundation to help get this message out."
Free summer meals are available to kids and teens ages 18 and under at thousands of summer meals sites around the country and programs do not require applications or proof of income. Sites are registered with the USDA and are held at safe, local places such as schools, churches and community centers. All meals served follow USDA nutrition guidelines.
To help encourage families to participate in these free offerings near them, the Arby's Foundation has funded an innovative summer meals texting program with No Kid Hungry, which connects people with local hunger resources through their phones. Families can find a free summer meals site near them by texting FOOD to 877-877, calling 1-866-3HUNGRY or visiting www.strength.org/summermeals.
While in each city, the Hungry For Happiness mobile tour will stop at summer meal sites to deliver a full summertime's worth of activities and games for kids, complimentary Arby's Kids Meals (which follow USDA nutrition guidelines) and education on available summer meals programs and resources in each community. In addition, the tour will visit public events in each city to help raise awareness in the local communities on these issues.
Sponsors supporting The Hungry For Happiness Tour include Pepsi, Shamrock Farms, Dr Pepper, Kraft Foods and Comcast.
In addition to the tour, the Arby's Foundation is raising funds to further support No Kid Hungry through a donation match campaign, where Arby's will match every dollar donated up to $100,000.
Arby's® is the largest quick service restaurant chain to partner in a nationwide effort with Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign, and contributed over $2.2 million to its mission in 2011. Arby's and the Arby's Foundation have generated significant national awareness of the childhood hunger movement by leveraging its restaurants and digital and social media properties in the fight to end childhood hunger in America.
Since 1986, the Arby's Foundation, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, has raised more than $52 million to support youth initiatives in the communities the foundation serves. In 2011, the Arby's Foundation contributed $2.2 million dollars toward its new mission to end childhood hunger in America. The Arby's Foundation is the charitable arm of Arby's Restaurant Group, Inc., and works together with AFA Service Corporation (Arby's Franchise Association), Arby's suppliers and the generosity of Arby's customers and employees to ensure that all children in America have access to wholesome food choices, because every child deserves to learn, play and grow. For more information on the Arby's Foundation, please visit www.arbysfoundation.org.
Atlanta-based Arby's Restaurant Group, Inc. is the second largest quick-service sandwich chain in the U.S. with more than 3,500 restaurants system wide. In addition to its classic Roast Beef and Beef 'n Cheddar sandwiches, slow-roasted and thinly sliced in store daily, Arby's is also known for its deli style Market Fresh® line of sandwiches and salads, Curly Fries and Jamocha Shakes. In 2011, Arby's introduced Ultimate Angus, a premium Angus beef menu line featured in sandwiches. To learn more about Arby's, please visit www.arbys.com.
More than 16 million children in America struggle with hunger. Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry® campaign is ending childhood hunger by connecting kids to the healthy food they need, every day. No Kid Hungry brings together governors, mayors, businesses, chefs, federal and state agencies, educators and community leaders to connect children at risk of hunger with food and nutrition programs where they live, learn and play. No Kid Hungry also teaches families how to cook healthy, affordable meals through Cooking Matters® and invests in community organizations that fight hunger. Get involved at Strength.org.
SOURCE Arby's Foundation, Inc.