Eating Out To End Childhood Hunger

Nearly 17-million children in America face hunger. That's almost one out of every four kids growing up today who worry where their next meal will come from. The great American dine out returns this week, an annual event that unites restaurants with consumers here and across the country to end childhood hunger. Pat Hernandez tells us more.

We've all experienced hunger at one time or another, but there's a big difference between trying to satisfy a brief craving and wondering when or from where your next meal will come. Brian Green, is president of the Houston Food Bank. He says they estimate that about 36-hundred children go hungry each day in the greater Houston area:

"This is of course, the time where nutrition is most important and yet, actually when you look at food and security rates for children, they're significantly higher than the national average."

Green says its become a chronic problem.

"It is certainly going up. The people most likely to be the victims of the downsizing loss of jobs are actually families with children."

Thanks to the efforts of Share our Strength, millions of consumers will be able to help the national non-profit achieve its goal of ending childhood hunger with the Great American Dine Out. This is Jessie Sherrer:

"A lot of restaurants will hear about it for the first time and say, 'Why have I not done this? Why am I not involved?' So, we're really getting a very positive response."

PH: "It is hard to imagine that even in the most powerful country in the world, Jessie, there are kids who find it a challenge to get a decent meal each day."
 
Sherrer:  "Yes it is and, it's not that we don't have food in this country, we do. A lot of these families and children lack the resources to actually get to the food."

Sherrer says Share Our Strength ensures children in need are enrolled in effective federal nutrition programs, invests in community organizations like the Houston Food Bank and encourages the restaurant industry to participate
in the Great American Dine Out. Ray Blanchette is CEO of some well-known eateries in town like The Ignite, Joes Crabshack and The Brickhouse.

"It looks like we will more than double last year's fundraising in this year's event. We are very very excited."

PH: "Ray, I would imagine that your participation in this event has been more of an eye-opening experience in as much that it's one thing to put a classic meal on the table for the patrons, but it's another thing to know that there are people who are not as fortunate?"

Blanchette: "Without a doubt. Last year for our Christmas party, we kind of took a vote around the office of doing a nice event, or spending the day at the Houston Food Bank doing a day of service and the going to one of our restaurants at the end of the day, and for us, that was probably our most meaningful Christmas party ever."

Blanchette says they will donate a percentage of their sales or offer promotional values this week in the Great American Dine Out. Nationally, the effort hopes to raise over a million dollars toward ending childhood hunger. For the list of participating restaurants log on to www.GreatAmericanDineOut.org.

Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...