Jeff Bridges: A hunger to help kids

No Kid Hungry campaign enlists youth to raise money, awareness

Video: Jeff Bridges discusses childhood hunger on ‘Morning Joe’

I’ve been working to end hunger in America for almost 30 years, first with my own charity, the End Hunger Network, and now with Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign.

As Thanksgiving approaches, actor Jeff Bridges reflects on his work as an anti-hunger activist.

As the No Kid Hungry national spokesperson, I’ve met with governors and mayors across the country to encourage them to become a No Kid Hungry partner. I’ve spoken at the national conventions, done media interviews and documentaries, attended fundraisers and toured schools. I’ve met with everyone from the Secretary of Agriculture to celebrity chefs to lunch ladies.

I have also been awed by the statistics: Nearly 16 million kids in America struggle with hunger. Some 2.5 million of them live right here in my home state of California.

But what inspires me the most are the young people I meet who want to help.

These are kids who don’t have to worry about getting a nutritious dinner when they get home from school. They tell me they can’t imagine that there are kids in their town who don’t get the food they need. That’s why the No Kid Hungry campaign is launching a Youth Engagement Project.

Kids have a powerful voice and we know we need them in order to end childhood hunger in America. The Youth Engagement Project gives young people a chance to start a movement, either in their schools or communities. It puts them in touch with kids who are struggling to hear their stories.

Kids in America aren’t hungry because we lack food. We have food in abundance. They aren’t hungry because we lack food and nutrition programs. We have programs in place to feed kids in need in every state in America. Kids in America are hungry because they don’t have access to the food and nutrition programs that are there to serve them.

And that’s why the No Kid Hungry campaign works so well. The campaign connects kids who are struggling with hunger to the nutritious food they need, making sure they are signed up for free breakfast and reduced priced lunches at school. It teaches their families to cook healthy food on a budget and in the summertime, when school (and school meals) aren’t around, the No Kid Hungry campaign makes sure parents know where to go to get a free meal for their children.

Last week I attended a No Kid Hungry fundraiser in L.A. with Elle Fanning, Amandla Stenberg and Sierra McCormick, a group of wonderful young actors who believe no child should grow up hungry.

My hope this Thanksgiving is that more people in the entertainment industry — actors, directors, producers and musicians — will join me in my work with Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign. Ending childhood hunger in our country is possible. Doing it alone isn’t.

For more information, please go to: NoKidHungry.org