WASHINGTON – The crowd oohed as the red velvet curtains dropped,revealing a tall cheesecake sculpture made of 30,000 cans of soup.
The can-pastry,although not immediately edible,marked the end of Hunger Action Month,a national initiative promoting community involvement in the continual battle against hunger in the United States.
The celebration took place Thursday at the Capital Area Food Bank's warehouse and distribution center in Northeast Washington.
“I'm happy to report that America responded,” said Mark Mears,chief marketing officer of The Cheesecake Factory.
The increase in the number of people who don't have enough food is attributed to the current economic downturn. Today,one in eight Americans is at risk of hunger,according to the Feeding America Web site.
“With the current economic situation,the lag will take a couple of years,” said Vicki Escarra,president of Feeding America.
Escarra said the demand for food assistance in the United States is at a pinnacle,with many middle-class Americans visiting food banks for the first time.
“They are people that have never been there before,” Escarra said.
The primary partners,The Cheesecake Factory and Feeding America,created the first Drive Out Hunger Tour. The 30-city tour started in Los Angeles Sept. 1,and ended in Washington. The goal of 100,000 canned food products was shattered by the end of the tour. More than 300,000 cans were collected.
The Cheesecake Factory serves 72 million Americans a year in its restaurants and raises awareness and donates money to help feed the 25 million people who don't know where there next meal will come from. Mears said efforts to “drive hunger out of America” will continue.
“This journey still has many,many miles to go before we reach our ultimate goal,” he said.
Feeding America is food-assistance network of 205 food banks across the United States and Puerto Rico,including the Capital Area Food Bank.