TV foodies join in fight against hunger

There’s no hotter category on the smallscreen these days than food-related programs, and there’s no bigger programming opportunity for TV foodies than Thanksgiving.

This year, as culinary celebs show off gourmet wonders for holiday meals, Food Network and other outlets are also looking to raise awareness among viewers about the nearly 50 million Americans who don’t have enough to eat on a regular basis.

A coalition of major anti-hunger advocacy orgs, including Feeding America and Share Our Strength, has set the ambitious target of ending child hunger in America by 2015.

Jeff Bridges is the spokesman for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign that has tubthumped for federal policy changes and fostered grassroots public and private partnerships to encourage the development of food banks and nutritional education for needy families. Washington, D.C.-based Share Our Strength estimates that more than 16 million kids are at risk of hunger at any given time.

Food Network has integrated Share Our Strength initiatives into numerous programs to air in the coming weeks. It is also running “text to donate $10″ promo snipes in many of its programs in support of Share Our Strength. Tuesday’s edition of the cabler’s popular competition series “Chopped” will feature White House chef Sam Kass as a guest judge in a cook- off among four school cafeteria chefs. The seg will emphasize Share Our Strength’s message about the important role that school breakfast and lunch programs play in fighting hunger and promoting healthy eating habits.

ABC’s new daytime strip “The Chew” has adopted Chicago-based Feeding America as its charity of choice. The show donates $1 to the org for every person that attends a taping of the Gotham-based show, which has a 150-seat studio aud. The Oct. 17 edition of “Chew” was devoted to the subject of the pervasive nature of food insecurity even among middle-class families in tough economic times. It featured a lengthy seg on a Feeding America-affiliated food bank in New Jersey, and the show’s co-hosts demonstrated recipes made from items often handed out by food distribution programs.

For the holidays, Feeding America is also pushing its Give a Meal campaign, which aims to persuade shoppers to forgo knickknacks and bathrobes and the like in favor of a modest cash donation. Bank of America is ponying up $2 in matching funds for every $1 donated. Feeding America emphasizes that every $1 donated to Give a Meal will provide eight meals for needy families.

The ubiquitous Rachael Ray is the frontwoman for the Give a Meal campaign. Her Yum-O Foundation has made sizable donation to Feeding America.

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