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      Plans to end childhood hunger in Illinois by 2015

      School Lunch and Breakfast Programs / KHQA file photo

      Some people believe that childhood hunger in Illinois and the rest of the nation can be ended by 2015. This month, actor and anti-hunger advocate Jeff Bridges, some governors and others interested in the cause kicked off a national campaign to help accomplish that goal.

      Across the country, Bridges says, 17 million kids need reliable access to food. One solution, he notes, requires no extra funding.

      "We want to make better use of the programs that are already in existence."

      Bridges says the No Kid Hungry Campaign focuses on access to nutrition education and to existing federal programs such as SNAP (formerly food stamps) and the School Lunch and Breakfast programs . It was developed by Share Our Strength , an organization dedicated to ending childhood hunger. Share Our Strength has a long history of supporting community groups in Illinois, with more than $9 million in grants awarded since 1988.

      The No Kid Hungry Campaign is aimed at breaking down barriers to participation in programs that are already in place, Bridges says.

      "Right now there's over a billion dollars available for states to use for these programs that is not being used."

      Bridges says they are simply asking people to take this pledge to show their concern: "By taking this pledge I'm adding my voice to the national movement of people who are committed to ending childhood hunger in America by 2015."

      Organizers are aiming the No Kid Hungry Campaign at creating a public-private partnership to close the gaps between existing food resources and the families who need them. More information is available at www.nokidhungry.org.

      This story was written by Mary Anne Meyers of Illinois News Connection.

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