February 22, 2017

It's incredible how many Americans are living in hunger. We see them every day and might not even know they're struggling. Working moms are making choices between feeding themselves or their babies. People working full time are still relying on federal assistance to feed themselves and their families.  50 million Americans struggle to get enough to eat.

Hunger hurts everyone, but it is especially devastating in childhood because hunger deprives kids of more than just food.

Children are at high risk of hunger because they are dependent on adults for their care. And their younger and growing bodies are more vulnerable to the other problems hunger causes.

Every year, 2.6 million children die as a result of hunger-related causes. In the U.S., nearly 16 million children — one in five — live in households that struggle to put food on the table. Even short-term episodes of hunger can cause lasting damage to a child’s development. Hunger puts children at risk of a range of cognitive, behavioral, emotional, and physical problems.

It is vitally important that children get a good start in life from a nutrition point of view. Studies show hunger among children can lead to aggression, tardiness, and absenteeism, health problems, a decrease in attention and lower test scores.

Children who are fed and nourished adequately learn better in school. This translates into a better education. As better-educated children grow into adulthood, they are more likely to be productive and have higher-paying jobs.  Ending hunger among children has many benefits. It can break the cycle of poverty that often continues across generations.

Los Angeles County is home to one of the largest populations of any county in the nation. We are also home to one of the largest accounts of hunger.

According to Feeding America’s recent “Map the Meal Gap” report, 1.5 million people in Los Angeles County don’t have enough funds to buy a sufficient amount of food, making it home to the largest population of food insecure people in the U.S.  That’s equates to a 14.7% food-insecurity rate.

The report also found that L.A. has the largest population of food-insecure children. There, one in four kids don’t have enough food to eat.

12 percent of the food insecure people in Los Angeles are living above the poverty line. Federal nutrition programs, while targeted at our most vulnerable, do not serve all who are in need of food assistance.

Adrian with Courtney Morra and Michael Flood
Adrian with Courtney Morra and Michael Flood

For 43 years, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank has worked to mobilize resources in the community to alleviate hunger.  Their Vision is that no one goes hungry in Los Angeles.

Since 1973, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank has distributed more than 1 billion pounds of food. It provides food to 320,000 people every month and in 2015 they distributed 52 million meals–that’s more than 62 million pounds of food. Twenty percent of that food is fresh produce.

The Food Bank collects food from hundreds of resources, which – with the help of 27,000 volunteers annually – it distributes through a network of more than 600 partner agencies.  Ninety-seven percent of revenue raised goes directly to programs.

1 in 4 children in Los Angeles county struggles with hunger.  These children come from homes where parents routinely have to make tough choices between paying the rent and putting food on the table.  The Food Bank has launched several Children’s Nutrition Programs over the past 10 years.

In 2016, the Summer Lunch Program served an average of 3,500 meals a day at 69 distribution sites throughout Los Angeles County, including Boys and Girls Clubs, summer school locations, community centers, the Salvation Army and public libraries.

Ricco Ross at Celerity Octavia Charter School
Ricco Ross at Celerity Octavia Charter School

Actor, Producer and Writer Ricco Ross recently volunteered his time to support The Peace Fund's Interactive Storytelling Program where he entertained students at Celerity Octavia Charter School in Los Angeles with his telling of the Disney book, Toy Story.  The Peace Fund has found this Storytelling platform to be active and in-the-moment. It engages children's full imagination and full creativity - hopefully instilling in them a passion for reading.  The celebrities who participate have all enjoyed the experience.

Ricco is known for his work in A Husband for Christmas, The Wishmaster, Mission: Impossible, Highlander, Dr. Who, Babylon 5 and many others.  He is best known for his role as Private Frost in Aliens...a character James Cameron wrote specifically for him.

Filming has begun on his latest role of Ray Watson (Uncle Ray), Whitney Houston's bodyguard/uncle in the biopic "Bobbi Kristina".

Livy's Hope
Livy's Hope

Jon & Hailey Scheinman from Livy’s Hope talk with John Bierly about their new partnership with The Epilepsy Foundation.  As many of may remember, Hailey’s twin sister Olivia was born with a brain malformation that resulted in epilepsy, cerebral palsy and other disabilities.

Livy is the heart of Livy’s Hope, but so is Hailey. She helped start it and she’s determined to make a difference in lots of kids’ lives, not just Livy’s. Together, the girls are showing that there really is hope in the world.

Their mission is to support children with medical needs and their families. 
They do this by sharing their story of "Don't Give Up. Give Back." to try to inspire people to always have hope during hard times and to give back to those in need.

They accomplish this by working with organizations who share a similar focus in order to help them accomplish their goals.