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Food Network Dishes Up Philanthropy

ATAS to honor docu 'Hunger Hits Home'

Food Network documentary “Hunger Hits Home” will be among eight TV shows feted by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences at its sixth annual gala on May 9.

But to hear network president Brooke Johnson tell it, the award isn’t nearly as important as the reason she chose to produce the docu. It’s what makes the Food Network and Share Our Strength, which fights childhood hunger in the U.S., ideal partners.

“When I came to the Food Network 10 years ago, I quickly discovered that all of our chefs were involved in anti-hunger activities,” says Johnson. “It’s a natural thing for a chef to do. They want to feed people.”

Indeed, Food Network staff operated a kitchen on Long Island after superstorm Sandy. It also offered meals in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

But while anti-hunger efforts seem built into the DNA of those who work at the web, Food Network formalized that commitment behind Share Our Strength to put more muscle behind its efforts. “We thought we could have more impact if we focused on one thing; childhood hunger is Food Network’s main issue.”

Share Our Strength operates initiatives year-round, with an accent on a seasonal approach. From May through August, it aims to connect kids to summer meals; August and September stress the importance of a healthy preschool breakfast; other events concentrate on fighting hunger over the holidays, and buying healthy food on a tight budget.

The Food Network offers the org financial support, and is its main communication partner. “We produce documentaries about hunger, we run PSAs,” Johnson says. Which is where Hunger Hits Home comes in.

While Share Our Strength is the focus of Food Network’s national anti-hunger efforts, the web also maintains a local charitable presence, with the New York Wine and Food Festival, which it launched six years ago. The festival raises more than $1 million each year, with proceeds going to Share Our Strength and the NYC Food Bank.

(Pictured Above: Foodies: Brooke Johnson, Sandra Lee and Bobby Flay at NYC Wine & Food Festival.)

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