Jeff Bridges pictured with Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. Jeff appeared at the GOP convention in Tampa to talk about the No Kid Hungry campaign's work to end childhood hunger. Jeff will also be talking about No Kid Hungry to the Democrats at their convention in Charlotte next week.
Who do you think will be our future governors, our great thinkers and educators? Who’s going to create new businesses and keep us competitive economically in the world? Who will be our future leaders?
Our children of course.
They are our future. And, we are not doing right by them. We are one of the richest countries in the world, with the most opportunity and freedom. But we have an embarrassing problem in our country. Millions and millions of children wake up every morning not knowing whether they’ll get enough to eat that day. Can you imagine the fear these kids must feel everyday just trying to get from meal to meal when they should be learning and playing and enjoying life?
More than 16 Million kids in America are not getting enough healthy food on a regular basis. They suffer from profound health problems - they can’t perform well in school - many of them won’t be fit to serve in our military because they are obese or didn’t have proper nutrition in early childhood. This is not only creating an education and health issue but a huge economic issue. Hunger currently costs our country billions of dollars each year. But above all, this is a moral issue.
I’ve spent the last 30 years working to alleviate hunger in America and what I’ve come to learn is the children in America aren’t hungry because we don’t have enough food - we do. Its not because we don’t have food and nutrition programs - we have those. Our children are hungry because they don’t have access to the food and nutrition programs that already exist to help them.
The issue of ending hunger in our country has historically been a bi-partisan issue. We may have different opinions about a lot of things, but the anti-hunger fight has always been bipartisan. Folks like Bob Dole were prominent anti-hunger champions, and now Republican Governors like Bob McDonnell (Virginia), Nathan Deal (Georgia) and Rick Snyder (Michigan) can add themselves to that list. All three of these Governor’s states have joined the No Kid Hungry campaign, connecting families to the food and food programs that already exist in their communities.
One of the things I find so attractive about the No Kid Hungry campaign is that its focus is really about creating public/private partnerships. We go to each state and bring the business community to the table with local elected officials, government agencies, and community organizations and work to make the programs that already exist in their communities more accessible to families who are struggling.
In just over two years, in the states where we’ve been at it the longest, Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, and Arkansas, these public/private partnerships have helped increase the number of kids who are enrolled in food programs, like free breakfast at school and summer meals when school is out. We’ve increased the number of kids enrolled in these programs by 25%. More kids are getting the nutritious food need.
The No Kid Hungry campaign is really a program that is focused on local solutions for local problems.
So, what's missing?
We're looking for leaders who have been chosen by the people of their state to lead them in the right direction, to help break down barriers that prevent access to the programs that feed kids and their families.
We're looking for leaders who will call together the powerful members of their community - business, religious and political leaders, media, educators and nonprofits – and work together in a united non-partisan effort of reinvesting in America, finding innovative solutions and encouraging best practices that work in their own local communities. And, then share those with other communities.
We're looking for leaders to join us - to join me, Governor McDonnell, Governor Deal and Governor Snyder in saving our children’s future...we hope you are among them. You don't have to be an elected official to help. We all have the potential to be leaders.
A good place to start is to take the No Kid Hungry Pledge.
Together we can put an end to childhood hunger.