Business, food bank leaders to discuss hunger in Latin America


Of the 1 billion hungry people around the world, 53 million live in Latin America and the Caribbean. This region had shown marked improvement in food security in recent years that has been reversed by rising food prices, unemployment and the global financial crisis. Hunger is a barrier is to all aspects of human development -- education, health, economic self-sufficiency, productivity, social stability, and secure communities. Yet hunger is preventable -- there is enough food in the world to feed everyone, but the world is losing 40 percent of the food already produced. The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN) creates food banks where they are needed and supports food banks where they exist while connecting surplus food with hungry people. Leaders from Argentina, Colombia and Mexico -- Claudio Marcelo Giomi of Arcor, Carlos Enrique Cavelier of Alquería, and Luciano Aimar Reyes of the Mexican Association of Food Banks (all of whom serve on the GFN Board of Directors) traveled to Chicago to discuss hunger in their countries and expanding the role of food banks to alleviate hunger. GFN also announced the development the Global BackPack program, with initial pilot projects to address childhood hunger in Mexico City. Lead funding for this effort is being provided by the Abbott Fund (the philanthropic foundation of the global health care company Abbott), with additional support from the P & G Fund and Share Our Strength. The Humanitarian Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International will also provide support.

'The Global FoodBanking Network backpack initiative will provide chronically hungry children with a reliable source of nutrition on weekends and other times when they don't have access to school food programs,' said Cindy Schwab, Vice President, the Abbott Fund. 'Abbott and the Abbott Fund are happy to support the backpack initiative in Mexico, building on the funding, nutritional product donations and volunteer support that we provide for the initiative in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.'

The BackPack concept was developed in the United States to provide nutritious food to school children in need. Today, more than 140 Feeding America member food banks operate more than 3,600 BackPack programs serving more than 190,000 children. The BackPack program is designed to meet the food needs of hungry children at times when other resources are not available. BackPacks are filled with food that children can take home and food is child-friendly, nonperishable and easily consumed. In addition to providing nutritious food to school children in need, some BackPack programs provide additional food for younger siblings at home; some programs operate during times when children are out of school and have limited access to free or reduced-priced meals through their school.

'P&G is proud to partner with The Global FoodBanking Network to improve life around the world. As part of P&G's Live, Learn and Thrive cause, we are especially pleased to support GFN's backpack initiative in Mexico,' said Brian Sasson, P&G Global Manager-Social Investments.

'Share Our Strength is dedicated to continuing our work in Mexico and supporting this back pack program. It is one important way we know we can help,' said Pat Nicklin, managing director of Share Our Strength. 'By sending kids home with healthy food for the weekend that they can enjoy and share with their family, we are one step closer to surrounding needy kids with nutritious food where they live, learn and play.'

About The Global FoodBanking Network: The mission of The Global FoodBanking Network is to alleviate hunger. We do this by supporting food banks and food bank networks where they exist, and by working collaboratively to create them in communities where they are needed. To learn more, visit About CSCI: Chicago Sister Cities International is committed to promoting Chicago as a global city, developing international partnerships and networks, and sharing best practices on a city-to-city basis. To learn more, visit Chicago has 28 official Sister City relationships around the world including: Accra, Ghana (1989); Amman, Jordan (2004); Athens, Greece (1997); Belgrade, Serbia (2005); Birmingham, England (1993); Bogotá, Colombia (2009); Busan, Republic of Korea (2007); Casablanca, Morocco (1982); Delhi, India (2001); Durban, South Africa (1997); Galway, Ireland (1997); Gothenburg, Sweden (1987); Hamburg, Germany (1994); Kyiv, Ukraine (1991); Lahore, Pakistan (2007); Lucerne, Switzerland (1998); Mexico City, Mexico (1991); Milan, Italy (1973); Moscow, Russia (1997); Osaka, Japan (1973); Paris, France (1996); Petach Tikva, Israel (1994); Prague, Czech Republic (1990); Shanghai, China (1985); Shenyang, China (1985); Toronto, Canada (1991); Vilnius, Lithuania (1993); and Warsaw, Poland (1960).

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