Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Pound For Pound Challenge Inspires Americans to Lose Weight to Help the Hunger Crisis

/PRNewswire/ -- NBC's The Biggest Loser, General Mills, Subway, 24 Hour Fitness and Feeding America are partnering on the Pound For Pound Challenge, a program that encourages Americans to lose weight nationally to help provide hunger relief locally. For a second year, for every pound of weight participants pledge to lose, a pound of groceries will be delivered to a local food bank. The new season of NBC's The Biggest Loser, which premiers tonight, Tuesday, January 5 at 8 p.m. ET, will provide updates on Americans' participation in the Challenge and how their efforts are helping communities nationwide.

New this year, 24 Hour Fitness is joining this important initiative and www.PFPChallenge.com will highlight the top 10 participating states and food banks to help ignite friendly competition across the country.

Recent data from the U.S. government shows more than 49 million Americans struggled to get enough to eat at some point in 2008, the highest total in 14 years, making it the ideal time to get involved in the fight against hunger.

"Our network of more than 200 food banks across the nation have shown an average 30 percent increase in demand over last year," said Vicki B. Escarra, president and CEO, Feeding America. "At these rates, we all likely know someone affected by hunger and can help them in a big way by simply participating in the Pound For Pound Challenge."

To join the Challenge, people can visit www.PFPChallenge.com or www.BiggestLoser.com and enter their weight loss goals. For every pound of weight participants pledge to lose, the Pound For Pound Challenge will donate 14 cents to Feeding America - enough to deliver one pound of groceries to a local food bank - up to a maximum donation of $800,000.

"As a food company, General Mills is deeply committed to the hunger crisis," said John Haugen, vice president, Health and Wellness at General Mills. "Last year we helped Feeding America deliver more than 3.5 million pounds of groceries to local food banks through the Pound For Pound Challenge, and we are thrilled to give Americans yet another chance to help themselves while helping those in need in their communities."

To wake up Americans to the hunger issue, General Mills recently committed to donate 49 million bowls of Big G cereal made with whole grain to Feeding America for delivery to local food banks. General Mills CEO Ken Powell, NBC's The Biggest Loser's Bob Harper and Feeding America president and CEO Vicki B. Escarra traveled across the country to rally Americans to join the cause.

"I'm so inspired by the commitment I've already seen from Americans to help those who struggle to put food on the table," said Bob Harper, trainer, NBC's The Biggest Loser. "More than 1 million pounds have already been pledged to the Pound For Pound Challenge, and that momentum will only continue as we highlight the program on our show."

"Starting January 5, our viewers will watch as the show's contestants commit to improving their own health, and we hope that inspires them to join the Pound For Pound Challenge," said Mark Koops, Managing Director of Reveille, the production company behind NBC's The Biggest Loser. "The Challenge will be actively integrated into season 9, so viewers will get updates on how their own efforts are impacting their local communities."

Each person who pledges will be matched with a local Feeding America food bank nearest their residence, and donations will be delivered to those food banks when the Challenge ends. Participants who want their pledge to benefit other areas of the country can indicate that when they make their pledges. The Pound For Pound Challenge will donate 14 cents, enough to deliver one pound of groceries to a local food bank, for every pound pledged up to a maximum donation of $800,000 based on participation. Pledges will be accepted until June 30.

"Subway has long encouraged Americans to lead healthy, active lifestyles," said Tony Pace, Chief Marketing Officer of the Subway Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust. "By joining the Pound for Pound Challenge, Americans can turn their own healthy commitment into support for a great cause."

On www.PFPChallenge.com, dieters also can get helpful meal and weight loss tips from Yoplait, MultiGrain Cheerios, Larabar, Muir Glen, Eat Better America, Subway and 24 Hour Fitness.

"24 Hour Fitness is committed to helping people achieve their workout and weight-loss goals," said Tony Wells, Chief Marketing Officer at 24 Hour Fitness. "There is no better motivation to stay dedicated to a healthy lifestyle than to join the Pound For Pound Challenge."

With the rapidly increasing need for donations, everyone can do their part to spread awareness of the hunger issue and become a part of the solution. In addition to pledging to lose weight, at www.PFPChallenge.com you can create a PFP Challenge team on Facebook, invite a friend to join the Challenge via e-mail, donate directly to Feeding America and learn how you can volunteer at local food banks. To learn more and to join the Challenge, visit www.PFPChallenge.com.

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