United Way's End Hunger Initiative Aims To Strike Out Chronic Hunger

Valley of the Sun United Way teams up with Arizona Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall and Second Baseman Aaron Hill to rally the community to UNITE to End Hunger. Equipped with a simple yet powerful message, local residents are urged to take the Pledge to End Hunger at vsuw.org and be part of the movement to end chronic hunger right here in Maricopa County. For every pledge taken, the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation will donate one dollar, up to $100,000, to United Way’s work to end hunger.

"Personally, this is so meaningful because I can't imagine or think about children going without food," said Hill. "It's something that I am very passionate about and I want to be involved with, and not just as a voice. My wife and I are very excited to do whatever we can. Kids should not have to go hungry. It will be fun to see how far we can go with it."

Ending Hunger is part of Valley of the Sun United Way’s broader community goals.  In an effort to tackle this issue long-term, United Way partnered with the Association of Arizona Food Banks and a 17-member volunteer steering committee, co-chaired by Hall and retired APS executive Steve Wheeler, and developed a four-year plan to end chronic hunger in Maricopa County.  Input from executives from business, government, non-profit, and education among other sectors guided the plan’s development.

“As United Way’s board chair, as a business person and most importantly as a father I am proud to fight hunger for families right here in my community,” said Hall.

An assessment of hunger data, demonstrates that 82,000 households in the Valley suffer chronic hunger. United Way’s UNITE to End Hunger initiative immediate goal is to end chronic hunger for 33 percent of the most vulnerable households by 2016.  Data indicates those most impacted include children, seniors, pregnant moms and single parents. In fact, nearly half are households with children and another 20 percent are senior citizen households.

“Although, hunger may be an invisible issue to many, it’s a harsh reality for 1 in 20 households in Maricopa County,” said Merl Waschler, Valley of the Sun United Way’s President and CEO. “We need the community’s help to end chronic hunger for a grandparent, a mom, a young child and a high school student, who may not know where their next meal will come from.”

As part of the initiative, United Way and partners will work to increase access to out-of-school-time meals for children year-round; improve distribution of meals for seniors, and help connect pregnant moms to supplemental nutrition programs, among other key end hunger strategies.

“United Way creates systemic change and improves lives in Maricopa County,” said Hall. “We hope our local residents will take the pledge and become champions to end hunger. It’s easy, take the pledge, become part of the conversation and help spread the word to help our fellow neighbors.”

For more information on the United Way’s End Hunger Initiative and to take the pledge, visit vsuw.org or text ENDHUNGER to 41124.