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Second Harvest Heartland, Feeding America, General Mills, and 'The Biggest Loser' Team to Help Community Lose Weight and Raise Funds to Feed the Hungry

SAINT PAUL, Minn., Dec. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Second Harvest Heartland, the Upper Midwest's largest hunger relief organization, today announced a new partnership with Feeding America, General Mills and NBC's "The Biggest Loser." Through the Pound For Pound Challenge, for every pound participating dieters in Minnesota and western Wisconsin pledge to lose in the new year, General Mills will donate 10 cents to Second Harvest Heartland -- enough to provide one pound of groceries to someone in need. Funds will be distributed through Feeding America.

The Pound For Pound Challenge serves two purposes -- it provides a fun, interactive structure for losing weight, and it helps to raise critically needed funds for Second Harvest Heartland and more than 200 other food banks throughout the nation that are part of the Feeding America network.

The timing of the Challenge coincides with increasing demand for emergency assistance at food pantries, soup kitchens and other feeding programs as the nation struggles through tough economic times. In fact, according to the USDA, more than 36 million Americans live in "food insecure households" -- meaning that they do not always know where they will find their next meal. One in 10 Minnesotans struggles to put on their tables.

"We serve more than 25 million Americans every year, and the number of people in need just keeps growing," said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America. "We work with many generous donors who give us substantial food and funds to do our work, and we are especially pleased that General Mills and 'The Biggest Loser' have come up with such an innovative way to help us raise more funds and, just as importantly, raise awareness of the pervasiveness of hunger in our nation."

"We are delighted to be a part of The Pound For Pound Challenge," said Rob Zeaske, executive director of Second Harvest Heartland. "A program that lets the community help others while helping themselves is truly a win-win for everyone involved."

In addition to the weight loss challenge, grocery shoppers also can look for Pound For Pound seals on specially-marked General Mills products. For each seal mailed in, General Mills will also donate 10 cents to Feeding America. General Mills brands carrying the seal include Cheerios(R), Green Giant(R), Yoplait Light(R), and many others.

Seals will appear on select products for a limited time only. Between the donations for weight loss pledges and product seals, General Mills will contribute up to $775,000 to Feeding America during the Pound For Pound Challenge. Feeding America will distribute the funds to local food banks based on the zip codes of consumers who participate in the program, so the areas of the United States that participate most actively in the Pound For Pound Challenge stand to benefit most from the donations.

"General Mills has a long-standing commitment to nutrition and wellness, and we're thrilled to support a cause that will not only provide hunger relief but also encourage Americans to get healthier," said John Haugen, vice president, Health and Wellness at General Mills. "By joining the Challenge, Americans are helping themselves while helping the one in eight Americans who struggle with hunger."

The Pound For Pound Challenge starts in January with the launch of season seven of "The Biggest Loser" and lasts until the season concludes in May. Viewers will get updates on the Pound For Pound Challenge throughout the show's season.

"Our show inspires so many people to commit to a healthier lifestyle, and we're excited that motivation will help secure millions of pounds of groceries for local food banks," said Bob Harper, trainer with "The Biggest Loser."

Those who wish to participate in the Pound For Pound Challenge can visit and enter their weight loss goals. Participants can pledge to lose weight from now through April 27, 2009.

About Second Harvest Heartland

Second Harvest Heartland is the Upper Midwest's largest hunger-relief organization, with a mission of ending hunger through community partnerships. 41 million pounds of grocery products were distributed last year to hungry seniors, families and children through more than 1,000 non-profit member agencies and programs, including food shelves, soup kitchens, shelters, senior centers, faith-based organizations, and children's after-school programs serving 59 counties in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. For each $1 donated, Second Harvest Heartland can distribute more than $9 worth of grocery products for those in need. For further information, visit or call 651.484.5117.

About Feeding America

Feeding America provides low-income individuals and families with the fuel to survive and even thrive. As the nation's largest domestic hunger-relief charity, our network members supply food to more than 25 million Americans each year, including 9 million children and 3 million seniors. Serving the entire United States, more than 200 member food banks operate 63,000 agencies that address hunger in all of its forms. For more information on how you can fight hunger in your community and across the country, visit

About General Mills

One of the world's leading food companies, General Mills operates in over 100 countries and markets more than 100 consumer brands, including Cheerios, Haagen-Dazs, Nature Valley, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Old El Paso, Progresso, Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen, and more. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A., General Mills had FY2008 global net sales of US$ 14.9 billion, including the company's $1.2 billion proportionate share of joint venture net sales.

About "The Biggest Loser"

The first reality series where everybody "loses," "The Biggest Loser" challenges and encourages overweight contestants to shed pounds in a safe and recommended manner through comprehensive diet and exercise as they compete for a grand prize of $250,000. Hosted by Alison Sweeney (Days of our Lives), the series provides the contestants with challenges, temptations, weigh-ins, and eliminations until the final contestant remains to claim the title of "the biggest loser." Each team works out under the supervision of professional trainers Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper. "The Biggest Loser" is a production of Reveille LLC, 25/7 Productions and 3 Ball Productions.

"The Biggest Loser" series has become a worldwide hit airing in over 90 countries and produced in 25 countries. Since its debut in 2004, "The Biggest Loser" has also grown to become a standalone health and lifestyle brand by developing tools and products inspired by the show and approved by our doctors and experts. Anchored by its online diet and exercise subscription-based extension of the show,, The Biggest Loser Meal Plan, The New York Times best-selling books series, best-selling fitness DVD series, line of appliances, fitness equipment, protein supplements, and countless other health and lifestyle based products, "The Biggest Loser" consumer products program has generated over $50 million in spending with presence at more than 25,000 major retailers to date. Check out for more information.

SOURCE Second Harvest Heartland
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