In between his endless hours on the set of the hit Fox show, Mark Salling is hoping to make a difference to end child hunger with a new awareness campaign. All it takes is a package of food and a pair of scissors.
Mark Salling knows where he’s going to get his next meal. Whether he’s eating at craft service during a 14-hour day on the set of Gleeas bad boy Noah Puckerman or mixing up his signature chicken-brown rice-peanut- avocado combo (“It’s my favorite concoction.”), Salling is food secure.
While he’s not worried about his next meal, Salling, 29, is concerned about the nearly 17 million children in the United States who are at risk of hunger, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
“There are good kids and people affected by hunger in our country, and we should all try to do something about that,” says Salling.
Child hunger has been shown to affect children’s mental and physical health. Children from food insecure homes are at a higher risk of having cognitive and behavioral development issues. Studies have also shown that food insecurity leads to problems in school like absenteeism, poor grades, aggression, and anxiety.
To support the cause, Salling has taken on the spokesman role for the Child Hunger Ends Here campaign, sponsored by Feeding America, ConAgra Foods and Schools Fight Hunger. The concept is simple: Collect the UPC codes from ConAgra food products like Peter Pan, Orville Redenbacher, and Healthy Choice. For every code that is sent in, ConAgra will donate one meal to Feeding America, a charity that provides meals to low-income individuals and families. To find out how to organize your own UPC Code Drive, visit ChildHungerEndsHere.com.
Salling’s involvement in the campaign is just one of the ways Salling tries to do good every day. “Part of my daily routine is to do something selfless and charitable, and this is just another easy way to do that,” he says.
Salling’s own home state of Texas is one of the hardest hit areas and ranks the second highest when it comes to child food insecurity. (Arkansas is number one.) As a child growing up, Salling remembers getting to know the at-risk families in his neighborhood. “We had a government housing project three blocks away from my house,” Salling recalls. He and his family though embraced their neighbors. “We always got to know those families,” he says. “We would have them come over and play basketball or football game and have dinner.”
Despite moving out of Texas and into Hollywood, Salling has kept that welcoming and altruistic attitude and hopes he can inspire others to do the same with the Child Hunger Ends Here campaign.
“We should all try to do something about child hunger,” he says. “This is a pretty easy way to help the kids down the street. You’ve probably already got the product in your house, and that just means you have a meal for a child in your pantry.”
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