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Day of Action 2016: Volunteers Provide Free, Nutritious Food to Those in Need

While most Americans will celebrate July 4th with backyard barbeques and picnics at the park, millions of others will be worrying where they’ll get their next meal.

Forty-eight million Americans – including 16.2 million children – live in households that don’t regularly have access to enough food according to Share our Strength. It’s called food insecurity, and it means people are skipping meals or buying cheaper, less nourishing food because it’s all they can afford.

For many kids from low-wage families, summer also may mean the loss of regular school breakfasts and lunches. That’s why we partnered with Share our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign to get the word out about summer meal sites across the country. By sending a text message, those looking for free meals can find programs in their communities.

The campaign is all part of a one-day event know as Day of Action. Each year, on or around June 21, United Way mobilizes the caring power of thousands of volunteers around the world to find solutions to problems like this.

Across the country, United Way volunteers delivered summer meals, led community-wide food drives, and provided other resources to those in need. United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut mobilized volunteers to canvas East Hartford’s neighborhoods and distribute information promoting the summer meals program. They also hosted a block party for more than 200 families, serving meals and providing educational activities and books for kids to read throughout the summer.  In Palm Beach County, which has highest rate of food insecurity than any other county in South Florida – United Way organized a Pop Up Pantry. Volunteers distributed 25,000 pounds of produce, 500 bags of non-perishable food and provided nutrition education and healthy recipes to residents.  And in West Michigan, where hunger threatens 1 in 7 people, hundreds of volunteers helped Heart of West Michigan United Way in Grand Rapids serve more than 75,000 meals to local pantries.

But United Way’s work in alleviating food insecurity doesn’t begin and end on Day of Action. Throughout the year, United Ways across the country are helping people gain greater food security by doing things like organizing food drives during the holidays, packaging and delivering meals and helping people find local food pantries. It’s all part of larger, year-round effort to build stronger, healthier communities where everyone can thrive.