Media Contact:

Emily Pickren

WASHINGTON, June 9, 2016 — The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) honored U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and End Hunger Connecticut! during its 26th Annual Benefit Dinner held last night at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C. Each was recognized for their leadership and commitment to ending hunger in America.

“This year’s honorees reflect the essence of FRAC’s model of effective anti-hunger work,” said Jim Weill, president of FRAC. ”They epitomize leadership, collaboration and advocacy to make the best possible use of those national nutrition programs.”

Secretary Vilsack received FRAC’s 2016 Distinguished Service Award for his longstanding and influential service. First, his leadership has helped millions of families through the recession through programs like SNAP and school meals, according to FRAC.

“The most significant improvements to America’s school meals and child care food programs in three decades resulted from Secretary Vilsack’s tireless efforts,” said Weill. “Not only has he worked with thousands of communities nationwide to promote expanded participation in school meals, summer and afterschool food programs, and SNAP, but he has also promoted and defended anti-hunger programs when they have been under attack. In myriad ways, he has been a crucial partner of FRAC and the entire anti-hunger community throughout the last 7 ½ years.”

Senator Murkowski also received FRAC’s Distinguished Service Award for her leadership and public service, which are demonstrated by her ability to reach across the aisle and build coalitions for the common good.

“Senator Murkowski has been a national leader on nutrition and food security, a proponent to update nutrition standards, and has worked to pass legislation addressing childhood obesity,” said Weill. “She is the lead Republican co-sponsor of the Summer Meals Act, and as a member of the Appropriations Committee, she labors to ensure that vital federal nutrition programs are well funded every year.”

End Hunger Connecticut!’s Executive Director Lucy Nolan accepted FRAC’s 2016 Award for Innovative Anti-Hunger Work on behalf of the organization. “End Hunger Connecticut! has creatively and tenaciously increased food security and nutrition among Connecticut families since its inception 15 years ago,” said Weill. “By conducting outreach around federal nutrition programs, improving state and local implementation of these programs, and supporting legislation to make them more effective, End Hunger Connecticut! has yielded remarkable results, such as establishing breakfast in the classroom programs, making SNAP benefits more accessible, and increasing participation in the Summer Food Service Program.”

More than 300 representatives from the private and public sectors attended the dinner, which benefited FRAC’s Campaign to End Childhood Hunger. The campaign aims to provide children with the nutrition they need to be healthy, to learn, and to grow by raising awareness of existing programs, creating partnerships with local groups to craft innovative strategies, and developing long-term strategies to improve programs. The General Mills Foundation served as Legacy Patron of the event, which also received generous support from the Kellogg Company Fund, AARP, Abbott, United Food and Commercial Workers, PepsiCo., Nestlé, and Unilever.

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The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) is the lead advocacy organization working to end hunger in America through stronger public policies. For more information, visit Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.