For some, the end of the school year means backyard barbecues, summer camp and beach vacations with family.
But for the more than 14.5 million children who depend on free or reduced-price breakfast or lunch, the end of school can mean hunger and malnutrition. While existing federal food programs do provide meals for more than 2.3 million of these children each summer, another 12.2 million may still go hungry.
In an effort to supplement federal programs, Sodexho Marriott Services will provide more than 120,000 meals to needy children across the country through its eight-week Feeding Our Future program beginning this week. Host cities for the four year-old program include: Boston, Chicago, Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Worth, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco , Toronto and Washington, DC.
Sodexho Marriott Services will donate food and labor for each program and partner with clients in each city to provide kitchen space for food preparation. Sodexho Marriott is also working with hunger-relief organizations in each city to coordinate the distribution of meals to various sites throughout each community.
“As the North America’s largest food and facilities management services company and the leading provider of school dining services, Sodexho Marriott Services knows and sees first-hand how important it is for children to eat nutritious meals every day,” said Michel Landel, president and CEO. “Undernutrition along with environmental factors associated with poverty can permanently retard physical growth, brain development, and cognitive functioning. I’m pleased this year we could add Canada and Philadelphia to the program.”
Hunger is on the rise in the U.S. In fact, according to a study conducted by the Center for Hunger, Poverty and Nutrition Policy at Tufts University, hunger has increased by 50 percent since 1985. It is estimated that nearly 12 million people go hungry every day–4.2 million of whom are children. “That’s one reason why Sodexho Marriott Services has made it our corporate mission to fight hunger,” said Landel. “We serve breakfast and lunch to more than one million students daily during the school year, which puts us in the perfect position to help relieve summer hunger, as well. That’s what Feeding Our Future is all about,” Landel added.
Sodexho Marriott Services, Inc. (NYSE-SDH) is the largest provider of outsourced food and facilities management in North America, with $4.5 billion in annual sales. Sodexho Marriott Services offers a variety of innovative outsourcing solutions, including food services, housekeeping, grounds keeping, plant operations and maintenance, asset and materials management, and laundry to the corporate, government, health care, education and remote site markets. The Company is the 57th largest employer in North America with 103,000 employees and its headquarters is located at 9801 Washingtonian Boulevard, Gaithersburg, MD 20878.