Summer is a critical time of need for millions of American children who receive free and reduced-price meals during the school year. To address childhood hunger this summer, American Idol alum Katharine McPhee is joining the Hunger-Free Summer initiative through Feeding America’s partnership with the ConAgra Foods Foundation. The 26-year-old beauty opened up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about her hopes to help millions of hungry children this summer, why she became involved in this mission that “broke” her heart and her plans to have children one day.
CBS: Tell us about your partnership with the ConAgra Foods Foundation and Feeding America to feed low income children during the summer.
KM: “While most of us are thinking about vacations, travel and fun this summer, many of us don’t realize there are millions of children across the nation who are at risk of hunger during the summer months. I have been a member of Feeding America’s Entertainment Council of celebrity supporters for almost a year and I am honored to be working with Feeding America and the ConAgra Foods Foundation to launch the Hunger-Free Summer program.
The goal of the program is to ensure that kids at risk of hunger have access to nutritious meals – including milk, peanut butter or turkey sandwiches, vegetables, and yogurt – year round. So, while school may be out for summer, lunch is always in session.
This summer I am traveling across the country to Feeding America food banks from Orlando to Los Angeles – to volunteer my time, but more importantly, to raise awareness about this important issue. I want to challenge every community to come together to help end child hunger in the United States.”
CBS: Tell us about how many children go hungry in America during the summer. How can we help out?
KM: “Millions of children struggle with hunger during the summer when they’re out of school. During the school year, about 19.5 million children depend on free or reduced-price school meals to help keep them from going hungry. But during the summer, only 2.2 million children participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program.
It’s easy to help. You can make a donation to Feeding America or you can volunteer your time at your local food bank. You can even make a difference by telling your friends and family about this program so hopefully everyone knows there is a resource available to them. Learn more at ConAgra Foods Foundation.”
CBS: You have appeared on The Biggest Loser to help advocate for healthy eating and you have volunteered for the Los Angeles food bank. Why have you taken such an interest in fighting hunger in America?
KM: “I was so surprised when I was exposed to the number of people – adults and children – who go hungry every night. I had no idea that the percentages were so high when it comes to kids not knowing where their next meal is coming from. It broke my heart. I wanted, in any little way possible, to help get the awareness out there for people who are in need and those who might want to volunteer or donate.
The economy is really tough so it is not always about giving money but of giving time. I could go on and on with this topic. When I go to the centers and see the kids and hand out a meal knowing this could possibly be their only meal of the day, I realize we need to do something and hunger is something we could actually ‘cure.’ There can be an end.”
CBS: Are you and your husband Nick Cokas hoping to have children one day?
KM: “Of course. I love kids! Cannot wait. We haven’t really planned for it. It will be the right time when it happens.”
CBS: What are you working on next? More film? More music? Both?
KM: “At the moment I am concentrated on this summer hunger initiative and between this, I am in the studio working on a Christmas album which I am really excited about. That will get me to September. Acting is always going on and I have a couple of things in the works but I don’t like talking about them until I am standing there in front of the camera.”
In the above photo provided by ConAgra Foods Foundation, Katharine sang with children at the New Image Youth Center to help kick off the Hunger-Free Summer initiative in Orlando, Fla. on July 7.