ATLANTA, August 30, 2010 – A national survey conducted by the Walmart Foundation and Boys & Girls Clubs of America found that cooking meals together is the top way moms and dads get kids to eat a healthy meal, and poultry products rank as the top food for getting kids to eat protein-rich dinners. While eating meals together is an important way families bond, one in six Americans are facing tough times and are unsure of where they will get their next meal.
Boys & Girls Clubs of America helped ease the burden for families this summer by providing an estimated 3 million healthy meals and snacks to Club members across the U.S. as part of a $3.4 million grant from the Walmart Foundation. Walmart recently committed $2 billion to hunger relief efforts as part of its Fighting Hunger Together initiative.
There is no question that proper nutrition is vital for children’s development. Summer poses a challenge for kids who are eligible for free and reduced lunches during the school year but don’t have access to healthy food when they’re not attending classes. Staff members at Boys & Girls Clubs have seen dramatic increases in the number of young people who arrive at Clubs hungry as families struggle to provide for their children during the tough economic times.
Boys & Girls Club alumna Lucille O’Neal, author, mother to four – including NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal, agrees that providing kids with healthy meals is key to proper development. Ms. O’Neal took to the airwaves today to talk about the issue of childhood hunger.
“As a mother of four and grandmother of 14, I personally know that finding the right resources for your family can be a constant struggle,” Ms. O’Neal said in an interview. “The summer feeding program at Boys & Girls Clubs helps young members gain access to healthy snacks and meals, helping students go back to school having properly developed over the summer.”
Many Clubs will offer additional food programs from October through December to ensure children are being taken care of during the tough economy. Nationwide, 61 percent of Boys & Girls Club members qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.
“Eating a healthy meal is vital to the development of children, and during the summer there are kids who go hungry because they don’t have access to healthy food when they aren’t in school,” said Margaret McKenna, president of the Walmart Foundation. “We are committed to fighting hunger and ensuring young people are getting the healthy meals they need.”
While some are struggling to feed their families, others are having a hard time getting their kids to eat nutritiously. Aside from cooking meals together, moms and dads are also reporting a rise in bargaining with screen time—access to television, computers and cell phones—as rewards to get kids to eat vegetables, according to the survey.
“Offering dessert for eating your dinner was a popular bargaining tool in our house,” O’Neal added. “I guess now moms are offering some time on the Internet. When it comes to getting your kids to eat broccoli, it’s okay to negotiate!”
To learn more about Walmart’s $2 billion commitment to help end hunger in America, visit www.walmart.com/fightinghunger.
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About Boys & Girls Club of America
For more than 100 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (www.bgca.org) has enabled young people, especially those who need Clubs most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, some 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs serve more than 4.2 million young people through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs can be found throughout the country and on U.S. military installations worldwide, providing young people 6-18 years old with guidance-oriented character development programs conducted by trained, professional staff. Key programs emphasize leadership development; education and career exploration; community service; technology training; financial literacy; health and life skills; the arts; sports, fitness and recreation; and family outreach. In a Harris Survey of alumni, 57 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta.
About Philanthropy at Walmart
Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are proud to support the charitable causes that are important to customers and associates in their own neighborhoods. The Walmart Foundation funds initiatives focused on education, workforce development, economic opportunity, environmental sustainability, and health and wellness. From Feb. 1, 2009 through Jan. 31, 2010, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation gave more than $512 million in cash and in-kind gifts globally, $467 million of which was donated in the U.S. To learn more, visit www.walmartfoundation.org.