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Metropolitan Detroit schoolchildren take a vacation from hunger

Charter One teams up for second year with Forgotten Harvest and Gleaners Community Food Bank to expand services to children and families during summer

Detriot       (July 8, 2009) - Charter One today announced the kickoff of Summer Vacation from Hunger, an initiative first launched in 2008 to help fight the impact of child hunger during the summer. As part of this effort, the Charter One Foundation has again pledged $100,000 to Forgotten Harvest and Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan - our region's two leading organizations in the fight against hunger - to provide much-needed funding to feed thousands of children and families throughout southeast Michigan.

The number of children affected by hunger in southeast Michigan is growing. Today one in five Michigan children under 18 years old reside in households receiving food stamps. More than 250,000 school children in the tri-county area are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches - an important resource that ends when school is out for the summer.

Last year, Forgotten Harvest and Gleaners initiated a mobile food pantry service in Detroit's Osborn community, distributing boxes of perishable and non-perishable food. With the support of Charter One colleagues, the mobile food pantry ran every Wednesday for six weeks serving 1,055 families and 2,738 children.

This year, Summer Vacation from Hunger's coordinated mobile food pantry service will be extended from six to eight weeks and expand to three communities - continuing in Osborn and beginning service in Detroit's Brightmoor neighborhood and city of Southfield. Another significant enhancement to the program is improving the experience for community residents by offering a choice of perishable and non-perishable donated food arranged in a shopping environment. It is anticipated that more than 3,000 families and 7,500 children will be reached through this year's program.

"The ability to choose donated food brings a sense of dignity to individuals seeking emergency food relief,” said Sandy Pierce, President of Charter One, Michigan. “Charter One is grateful for the leadership of Forgotten Harvest and Gleaners and their commitment to operate client choice pantries. We're proud to partner with them to make a difference for children in our region.”

Forgotten Harvest and Gleaners will partner with Our Lady of Good Counsel in Osborn, City Mission serving Brightmoor, and Oakland Church of Christ in Southfield to bring coordinated emergency food service on designated days during the week. Information on additional emergency resources available in southeast Michigan will also be provided to families benefiting from the mobile food pantries.

“It is a harsh reality to be without food for yourself and children and have no where to turn,” said Susan Goodell, executive director of Forgotten Harvest. “Thanks to the support from Charter One, the mobile food pantry will enable us to get desperately needed food into underserved pockets of our community and ultimately feed more individuals and families."

Through the end of August, Forgotten Harvest and Gleaners, along with volunteer colleagues from Charter One, will bring a mobile food pantry service to Osborn, Brightmoor and Southfield on designated days to feed the community. Information on additional emergency resources available in southeast Michigan will also be provided to families benefiting from the mobile food pantries.

“Southeast Michigan children and families have more hope because of this leadership effort,” said DeWayne Wells, president of Gleaners. “And it comes at a time when hope - and food - is critically important.”

For more information on the Summer Vacation from Hunger initiative and ways in which the public can learn more about hunger issues and become involved, visit the following Web sites: www.forgottenharvest.org and www.gcfb.org.

About the Charter One Foundation

Charter One Foundation is a subsidiary of the Citizens Charitable Foundation, which is a charitable contributions vehicle of Citizens Financial Group, Inc., RBS Citizens, N.A. and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania. The foundation's support is focused on housing, community development and basic human needs.

About Forgotten Harvest

Forgotten Harvest was formed in 1990 to fight two problems: hunger and waste. Forgotten Harvest will rescue more than 12 million pounds of food this year by collecting surplus prepared and perishable food from a variety of sources, including grocery stores, fruit and vegetable markets, restaurants, caterers, dairies, farmers, wholesale food distributors, and other Health Department-approved sources. This donated food, which would otherwise go to waste, is delivered absolutely free of charge to 150-plus emergency food providers in the metro Detroit area. The individuals and families served are as diverse as the community's residents - young and old, from all races and faiths. The common bond uniting them with each other and with Forgotten Harvest is hunger. Visit www.forgottenharvest.org.

About Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan

Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan is one of the oldest food banks in the United States. Gleaners secures food from grocers, food manufacturers, farms and gardens, individual donors and other sources and distributes it to more than 420 local non-profit agencies that feed people in need. Some of Gleaners' partner agencies operate soup kitchens or food pantries that provide nutritious meals and food packages, while others include shelters and human service organizations that serve meals. Since 1977, Gleaners Community Food Bank has grown to distributing over 28 million pounds annually, equivalent to 77,000 meals per day. Gleaners' Web site is www.gcfb.org.