Food to Sate Kids' Hunger

Las Vegas — Food Network has launched the first national public-affairs campaign in its history, a multi-year partnership with Share Our Strength, a nonprofit organization devoted to ending childhood hunger in the United States.

While the channel has done local charity tie-ins over the course of time, it has been looking for seven years for an appropriate partner that would “share the DNA” of a network devoted to food, public-affairs director Carrie Welch said.

Share Our Strength has raised $200 million for its anti-hunger mission since its founding in 1984, according to the organization's Web site. It distributes the funds through a network of 1,000 hunger-related charities throughout the U.S.

Share Our Strength marketing director Steve Martin said the group is the “charity of choice” for the culinary industry, and has worked with some of the chefs featured on Food.

Scripps Networks-owned Food will raise funds for the charity and produce public-service announcements to publicize Share Our Strength's work. The first event in the channel's charitable initiative will support Share Our Strength's “Great American Bake Sale” on May 19.

That national campaign effort individuals and community groups to hold local bake sales and donate the proceeds to hunger charities. The focus this year: healthy options families can prepare together.

In addition to airing the public-service announcements featuring Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee and Tyler Florence, Food on May 19 will run an “In the Kitchen” bake sale during its daytime block.

Viewers who hold bake sales on behalf of the network effort can compete for a sweepstakes prize, with the top fundraiser winning a trip for two to New York to see a taping of Emeril Live! and a behind-the-scenes tour of the network's kitchens.

Local cable affiliates are joining the effort. For instance, at The Cable Show, Cox Communications's Las Vegas system donated $10,000 to Chefs for Kids. Carolyn Leontos, a professor and nutrition specialist with the University of Nevada Reno said the 17-year-old charity has reached 20,000 elementary school children in at-risk areas.