MATTHEWS, N.C. – In effort to help fight hunger in North Carolina, four in-state collegiate rivals are forming a unique bond this 2015-16 athletic season. The “Million Meals Challenge” – a banner initiative in collaboration with Harris Teeter and NC Food Banks – focuses on generating yearlong support from students, fans, alumni and campus communities of Duke, NC State, UNC and Wake Forest universities.

Big4_MillionMeals_logoThis initiative marks a first for both NC Food Bank Association and the four collegiate institutions. Harris Teeter has been a long-time corporate partner of the respective athletic departments, and on a corporate level is committed to striking out hunger within the state of North Carolina, where approximately 160,000 different people receive emergency food assistance in any given week.

“Harris Teeter recognizes hunger affects millions of Americans including hard-working adults, children, veterans and seniors. In an effort to aid in hunger relief, the Company is proud to offer its shoppers and associates a convenient way to help fight hunger through participation in the Million Meals Challenge,” said Danna Robinson, communication manager for Harris Teeter. “The contributions made through these efforts will allow our food bank partners to support the community members they serve.”

The collaborative effort to provide one million meals for North Carolinians will be fueled by significant involvement on and off the respective campuses, as well as through in-store food drives at area Harris Teeter locations. Harris Teeter’s number one priority is eliminating hunger, and last year the Matthews, N.C.-based grocery chain donated more than $9.4 million and 5.5 million pounds of food to hundreds of nonprofit organizations that qualify through the Corporate Contributions guidelines.

Duke, NC State, UNC and Wake Forest will be reaching out individually to their respective student body, alumni and campus communities to help donate their time, money and/or food in support of the “The Million Meals Challenge”. Various on-campus events, as well as activities led by student groups, will be held to accept food donations and contribute to the overall initiative throughout the year. Each school will dedicate radio, online, text donation and social media efforts to the campaign. Additionally, a food drive will be held during an ACC men’s basketball game at each respective school to mark the campaign’s conclusion.

The endeavor was developed and will be activated by the schools’ respective, athletic multimedia rights holders: Blue Devil IMG Sports Marketing (Duke University); Learfield Sports’ Wolfpack Sports Properties (NC State University); Learfield Sports’ Tar Heel Sports Properties (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill); and Wake Forest IMG Sports Marketing.

“Recent reports show that North Carolina continues to have significantly higher rates of food insecurity than the rest of the country. One in six adults and one in four children lack adequate food during any given month,” said North Carolina Association of Feeding America Food Banks Executive Director Alan Briggs. “Last year, our member food banks provided over 140 million meals to those in need, but that falls short of the demand. That is why we are so excited to partner with Harris Teeter, Learfield Sports and IMG to provide a million more meals to feed our hungry neighbors across North Carolina.”

For additional details about the campaign and to donate funds supporting one of the four universities, visit Monetary donations are made online, and food donations can be made at one of the select Harris Teeter locations.

Harris Teeter, with headquarters in Matthews, N.C., is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR). The regional grocery chain employs approximately 28,000 associates and operates stores in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Maryland, Delaware, Florida and the District of Columbia.

The North Carolina Association of Feeding America Food Banks is a strategic alliance of the six food banks and one food recovery organization in North Carolina who also belong to Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger relief charity. The North Carolina Association of Feeding America Food Banks is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt charitable nonprofit organization.